ENGLEWOOD — Sarasota County officials will gather at 10 a.m. Thursday for a ground-breaking ceremony to begin work on the low-impact design stormwater improvements around West Dearborn Street.
The ceremony will take place at Pioneer Park.
‘It’s been a long-anticipated project in the works for several years,’ said Susan M. Walsh, Sarasota County spokeswoman. ‘This will provide, among other things, a major stormwater (storage) facility for the whole commercial district down in Englewood.’
The LID project is a pilot program designed to improve the flow of stormwater drainage and act as a filtration system before it runs off into Lemon Bay.
‘At the ground-breaking, (Sarasota County Commission Chairwoman Christine) Robinson will be speaking, as well as former commissioner Shannon Staub,’ said Debbie Marks, the Englewood CRA coordinator. ‘There will be a representative from the design team DMK (Associates), and our (Englewood Redevelopment Area) CRA Advisory Board (Chairman) John Mead, and the question mark is who from the governing board from the Southwest (Florida) Water Management District (commonly known as Swiftmud), who that speaker will be.’
Marks said contractors from Close Construction, based out of Okeechobee, Fla., also will speak, and that the company plans to utilize local help.
‘(The) anticipated start date of the project is four to six weeks,’ Marks said. ‘It’s a 12-month duration. Once it’s completed, anybody who wants to redevelop on Dearborn Street will be able to do so without pulling their Swiftmud permit. So we’re taking care of all the stormwater requirements.’
If the LID project succeeds, Marks suspects Swiftmud may permit similar projects in the future.
‘We did some initial assessments and evaluations,’ said Adnan Javed, a project manager for Sarasota County. ‘I don’t think there are any issues. There were a few contaminated sites in the area, but the engineers have looked at it and factored in all those things as part of the design. We’ll be working closely with the construction team to make sure none of those impact and make it worse for the community.’
Javed said the initial deadline for the project would be September 2013, but staff proposed an extension that will have the project done by March 2014.
‘We’re planning on taking the extension to the (Sarasota County Commission) in the next few weeks,’ Javed said.
According to Marks, everything is in place.
‘It’s a very unique design,’ Marks said. ‘It’s not (something that) just anybody who lays pipe can do, because the soils that are put into the bio-swales actually have to be engineered in order to filter the water like it needs to be done. It’s not like laying pipe in the ground. It’s a very technical specialty to do.’