Sarasota’s Bobby Jones water quality project funding survives challenge
SARASOTA — After initially denying funding for a crucial $3 million wetland redevelopment project at Bobby Jones Golf Course, the state board that manages regional water resources has changed its mind.
The shift in direction comes a week after Sarasota County commissioners unanimously agreed to become more involved in the construction of an 18-acre wetland treatment system next to the municipal course.
While elected officials have previously spoken in favor of the project and county staff have worked behind the scenes for years, the officials agreed to take a more prominent role on May 18.
The county is also expected to provide long-term maintenance on the project intended to restore wetlands and improve water quality by filtering tons of impurities and harmful nutrients before water enters Phillippi Creek and eventually Sarasota Bay.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to add Sarasota’s wetlands project to its annual budget — a key step toward a $1.5 million state contribution to the overall $3 million construction cost.
Joel Schleicher, the area’s representative to the water management board who was recently re-appointed its vice chairman, previously voted against the project in a subcommittee and thwarted attempts to bring it before the full board for consideration. Schleicher also took issue with the city's handling of some past projects.