SARASOTA COUNTY — Despite temperatures in the low 50s and gusty winds that would make even the most diehard beachgoer think of something else to do, Sarasota County officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the $21.5 million Siesta Beach improvement project.
County Commission Chairman Charles Hines said the project “is a long time coming” — something he had the audience of more than 100 people excitedly repeat. The project will add more than 130 parking spaces and significantly change the appearance of the property, which received the ranking of the No. 1 beach in the United States, based on water and sand quality and amenities, from Dr. Stephen Leatherman, known as Dr. Beach, in May 2011. Tourism officials say the beach on Siesta Key draws more than 2 million visitors every year, making it the county’s top tourist attraction.
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