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What has been most confounding and astound- ing to us about the whole project is that the original design called for the lift station to be constructed underground. Did the original group of engineers think they were work- ing in a mountain community? Last time we checked, the water table for most of Sarasota County was pretty high. Those same neigh- bors we referenced earlier might have wished for an out-of-sight, out-of-mind facility in the park, but that notion is as absurd as our being able to take a DeLorean to the future. In fact, that "invisibility" desired by those neighbors, and the City Commission's foolish acquiescence to their call for an underground facility, planted the first seeds for this multi-million dollar boondoggle. Fortunately, discussion about storm surge has persuaded the City Commission that an aboveground structure is the only practical course of action. Visions dancing in their heads of hundreds of pounds of water popping the "lids" off the underground silos — and cre- ating just the type of environmental disaster the lift station is designed to prevent — seem to have proved quite effective. We have been exceedingly fortunate to have dodged a serious storm in this county over the past decades, but emer- gency management officials remind us every hurricane sea- son that we cannot c o n t i n u e t o c o u n t on lore about Native American burial grounds and the energy of that fine quartz sand on Siesta Key to keep storms churning away from our coast. As far as we are concerned, the designs for the type of building that will house the lift sta- tion have tremendous aesthetic potential. We believe the neighbors will be satisfied with whichever architectural style is chosen, even if the resulting building is as tall as 34 feet. And, after all, public meetings will allow them a say in that process. More important than any other factor in this ordeal is the need to construct a lift station that will incorporate the best technology to safeguard the city against future sewage spills. After all, that is why Lift Station 87 was planned in the first place. Lift Station 7, which sits three blocks away from the Luke Wood Park site, failed a number of times, sending hundreds of thousands of gallons of sewage into Hudson Bayou and ultimately into Sarasota Bay. The city is keeping that old lift station active through special dis- pensation from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection until the new facil- ity is on line and functioning well. No one yet has offered a timetable for com- pleting Lift Station 87. Everyone who recalls t h o s e t r a g i c L i f t Station 7 spills wishes they were part of an overly long nightmare about ineptitude. How wonderful it would be to just wake up and What has been most confounding and astounding to us about the whole project is that the original design called for the lift station to be constructed underground. OPINION Sarasota News Leader May 23, 2014 Page 98

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