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.