Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Save Our Siesta Key Sand

Over 150 people attended the meeting on May 11th sponsored by the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, the Siesta Key Village Association, the Siesta Key Association and the Siesta Key Condominium Council.  Five speakers discussed various aspects of the project. The main speaker was Dr. Robert Young who was retained by SOSS2 to examine the risks of relying on the Army Corps models. This is critical because the entire basis of the Army Corps claim that there will be no harm to navigation or Siesta Key is based on their modelling results.  Dr. Young reported that the models generate unpredictable results and impacts to Siesta Key have not been adequately considered. The empirical data provided by the negative results that we have seen elsewhere in Florida and in Louisiana support that conclusion.

There was a discussion about whether FDEP will save the day. It is possible but in our opinion it is a long shot. Once FDEP has approved a plan such as in Longboat Pass they have made it clear that their primary aim is to support the Army Corps plan.  Navigational impacts or damages to other beaches are secondary concerns.  It is clear that an area wide Environmental Impact Statement is needed rather than the limited Assessment done in 2002/2004. So the best option is for you to state your objections to the current plan by submitting a petition on our website stating your concerns in the comments box. While is past the stated Army Corps date, this petition goes to the FDEP, the Army Corps, our Congressman and all of the County and City Commissioners.

Questions were raised about the objectivity of the County sponsored peer review with Atkins. Several people questioned their independence given the business they do with the Army Corps in Florida which totals multiple millions of dollars per year and over 10 billion in the next 30 years. SOSS2 has questioned the County Library List process but has been told that it is a given that the next firm on the list must be selected. Therefore SOSS2 has submitted three questions which we believe the peer review must answer and the County is considering having Atkins address them.

Finally, there was a discussion about a lawsuit being the last resort with documentation of concerns and letters to the newspapers and public officials being the first approach to take. SOSS2 agrees with this but judging from other Army Corps projects that have proceeded down the path to implementation with little regard for public input, it is obvious we need to be ready take legal action. I.e. speak softly but carry a big stick.

We are slightly more than halfway to our funding goal of $100,000 but halfway won’t do it. We need to be able to mount and sustain the appropriate legal action. So if you have not written or submitted a petition, please do so as we assume you care as much as we do. If you have not donated to our legal fund and are counting on others to do it, please contribute your share or whatever you can. Whenever the permits are granted, we need to be able to move quickly.

Thanks to all that have brought us this far.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Morton’s Gourmet Market

Fans of Morton’s Gourmet Market in Sarasota’s Southside Village won’t have to leave Siesta Key to get their locally grown produce and specialty foods for much longer.

Morton’s will officially move into the space currently occupied by Siesta Market on June 1st, but they will not be open to the public until the fall, after the store-wide renovation of the building, which is expected to take 4 or 5 months, is complete.

Siesta Market will be closing its doors at the end of May when current the owners of the only grocery store in Siesta Village, brothers Peter and Vincent Messina, retire. The Messina family has owned and operated the business for 44 years current and they will be missed, but the news of a new Morton’s Gourmet Market will soften the blow for many.

Morton's owner, Eddie Morton, told ABC7 reporters "My son and I said we would never ever expand; we would make it (the over 40-year-old family business) the best market there is, unless the opportunity ever came up on Siesta Key. That would be the only place we'd want to expand to."

The Siesta Key location will offer groceries and specialty items, like their other location, but it will have more of a focus on prepared foods.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Sea Turtle nesting season started on May 1st and goes to October 31st. Sea Turtles usually nest through September and hatching starts around July and goes through to October. This year, we saw a few nests prior to May 1st, this is consistent with trends that show that sea turtles are laying their eggs earlier each year.

Nesting has been steadily increasing since its lowest point in 2007. This year, we’re expecting the turtles that hatched in 2012, our biggest year so far, to return, so we’re hoping for another big year!

We ask beachgoers to fill in holes and knock down sandcastles before leaving the beach, and take all their beach furniture with them when they leave the beach. Please remember to keep lights from shining on the beach at night when the turtles are nesting. Sea turtles use lights to find their way back to the ocean and lights on the beach will cause the turtles to go the wrong way.

Mote Marine Laboratory is trying to get their Turtle Patrol volunteers out early, so they can catch new nests. If you would like more information about volunteer opportunities at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, please contact Mote at

USACE Dredging Proposal Meeting

The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, the Siesta Key Village Association, the Siesta Key Association, and the Siesta Key Condominium Council will host a meeting to address a proposal by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to use the Big Pass shoal between Siesta Key and Lido Key as a source of sand to restore badly-eroded Lido beaches.

Anyone interested in learning more about the potential effects of the plan on the Siesta Key beaches and navigation in Big Pass is encouraged to attend the special meeting to be held at the St. Boniface Church Community Center located at 5615 Midnight Pass from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, May 11th.

Local architect, Mark Smith, will introduce panelists: Laird Wreford, Manager of Coastal Resources; Rob Patten, President of Coastal Dunes, Inc.; Jono Miller, Charter Fellow of the Florida Natural Resource Leadership Institute; and Peter van Roekens, Chair of Save our Siesta Sand & the Boaters' Coalition.

Brief presentations by each of the panelists will be capped by a presentation by Dr. Robert Young, Director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines & Professor of Coastal Geology. The presentations will be followed by a question and answer session.