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News Story
Updated: 01/23/2014 02:01:29PM

Leaders, community celebrate Siesta Beach improvement project kickoff

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PHOTO PROVIDED BY SARASOTA COUNTY
This rendering shows part of the $21.5 million Siesta Beach improvement project that involves the renovation and restoration of the historic main pavilion, which has remained largely unchanged since its construction in the 1950s.

SUN PHOTO BY SCOTT LOCKWOOD
Sarasota County commissioners shovel sand Wednesday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the $21.5 million Siesta Beach improvement project. Pictured, from left, are Christine Robinson, Carolyn Mason, Joe Barbetta, Chairman Charles Hines and Nora Patterson.

By SCOTT LOCKWOOD

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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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