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Island Chatter

Siesta Key Association meeting notes
By Diana Colson

Community Reports:
Sheriff’s Office: Deputy McGregor was pleased to report that it’s been a slow time for the Sheriff’s Office. Currently, there are no big crime trends.

Michael Shay mentioned there had been complaints about exiting the new SK Beach parking lot area onto Beach Rd. People were making left turns where only right turns were allowed. Deputy McGregor said two actions might be taken to correct the situation: either put up a NO-U-TURN sign or extend the curbing. He will investigate the situation.

Code Enforcement: John Lally continues to work on illegal rentals. He has about 80 cases on his desk right now, with each case requiring 5-6 hours of preparation.  (Lally is a one-man operation.) The situation is growing worse. New web sites are popping up all over the world touting short term properties for rent on Siesta Key, most of which are illegal. Fines range from $250 to $500 a day, and the owner is the one who is held responsible. Joe Volpetook the position that realtors who rent out these properties need to be held responsible for their part in illegal rentals.

A new ordinance is now on the books allowing sales on the sidewalk in Siesta Key.  Temporary Use permits must first be applied for, and these are good for one year. Each store will be allowed only TWO items to be placed on the sidewalk: a mannequin, a rack or a table, but nothing hanging. This is a one-year ordinance, and may be revoked in 2015 if not successful.

FDOT & ROUNDABOUTS: Robin Stublen and William Hartmann of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) explained the upcoming Project Development Environment Study exploring the intersection at SR 758 at Beach Rd.  They emphasized that before any decisions are made, the public will have a chance to voice its opinions. Roundabouts are being considered because they are proven to reduce serious T-Bone accidents by 75%. They also keep traffic flowing at a steady pace and provide Right Turn exits instead of the more dangerous Left Turns. “People have embraced roundabouts once they have experienced them,” says Stublen.

This project is funded by Federal monies. FDOT is currently studying all possible options.  One option is a roundabout, or some variation of it. Another option is to do nothing. The study will look at all traffic patterns. The project would provide wider bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks for pedestrians.

Concern was expressed about a roundabout being built right next to the Fire Department. Stublen said the upcoming study would also address issues pertaining to the location of this Fire Station.

Nothing is yet cast in stone.  Every possible answer is on the table, and there is no predetermination. Today’s presentation was preliminary to the actual workshop, which will be held in January of 2015. (Time, date, and location of this workshop will soon be announced.)

For information on roundabouts, go to www.SWFLROADS.com where you will find an excellent video. (To navigate the web site, go first to MORE, and then to GENERAL ROUNDABOUT INFORMATION.)

Committee Reports: Environment —Catherine Luckner: Not much change. The county did approve funding for an independent study, and 7 firms are being considered, one of which will run the study. Nora Patterson added that Sarasota was underwriting this independent study to get reassurance that no damage would be done to Siesta Key or to South Lido Park. The hope is that only good things would happen for both Siesta Key and Lido.

New signs have appeared on Turtle Beach, put there by the Park Service. These signs are purely cautionary, warning people not to swim (no life guards) and not to fish (alligators have been sighted in those waters.)

Old Business: Bob Stein gave an update on Siesta Promenade. Plans are scheduled to be submitted in a couple of weeks. Nora Patterson said the developers will do traffic studies to show how traffic will be handled. She added that the developers have altered their plans considerably from what was originally submitted.

Michael Shay announced that the County is hosting a Volunteer Recognition Dinner within the next few weeks.

New Business: Paul Wilkinson spoke about upcoming November Events, and also about the Membership Drive. He asked that if at all possible, people sign up for SKA 2015 Membership on-line using credit cards.

Catherine Luckner acknowledged the outstanding service given by Nora Patterson during her 16 years on the County Commission, preceded by many years on the City Commission. The retiring commissioner was praised for caring about the birds of Siesta Key, and for always having advocated for things that would help people grow and prosper.

The next SKA Monthly Meeting will be Thursday, December 4th, at 4:30 pm.