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Island Chatter

Staff report

Anna’s Deli receiving national acclaim

For the past two decades, the Surfer Sandwich at Anna’s Deli has been voted best sandwich by local magazines and newspapers. Anyone that’s ever tasted this sandwich can understand why.

But according to a recent post on Anna’s Deli Facebook page this sandwich is now receiving national attention as well. Filming was recently completed at their Siesta Key location (6535 Midnight Pass Road) for an upcoming episode of the TV show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” 

Their post says, “For all who haven’t heard, pretty cool stuff happening for your neighborhood Anna’s Deli. Katie Lee, a popular TV chef and author, visited the Siesta Key location last year and proceeded to nominate Anna’s famous Surfer sandwich for the TV show ‘The Best Thing I Ever Ate.’ Well they’ve decided to include us in an upcoming episode and came in to do some filming on July 16. That’s a wrap!! We’ll let you all know as soon as we hear about our episode airing on the Food Network!”

It goes on to say, “we always appreciate all the support our loyal fans have given us and want to give a special shout out to Katie Lee for nominating our Surfer for the show. We’re beyond flattered and super excited.”

At the time of press, manager Ashley Paynter, stated no final date has been set for the episode’s airing, but said the episode will be shown either in September or October.  Once she is notified she will post it on their Facebook page.

When asked how she felt being the center of attention while filming, Paynter laughingly admitted, “Having everyone staring at you while feeding you your lines can get a bit overwhelming. Makes me realize this line of work is not for me.” 

The Breeze extends its morning hours

The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce announced in a July 18 email blast that the Siesta Key Breeze has extended its morning hours.

The trolley service begins at 8 a.m. each day of the week, the Chamber points out. Previously, the Breeze started its route from Turtle Beach Park to Siesta Village at 10 a.m.

The longer morning hours will continue through Labor Day, the email blast says. From Sunday through Thursday, service continues until 10 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Breeze operates until midnight.

Typically, the trolley service has maintained shorter hours in the summer, after peak tourist season has ended.

SCAT will evaluate the success of the extended two hour start time in a late August meeting. Siesta Sand will keep all posted.

A roundabout near Beach Access 2?

Siesta property owner and manager Michael Holderness has been communicating with Sarasota County Public Works staff about ideas to ameliorate traffic congestion issues related to Beach Access 2, he has told SNL.

In a July 3 email to Spencer Anderson, county engineer and the county’s Public Works Department director, Holderness proposed a roundabout at the intersection of Avenida Messina and Avenida Veneccia, saying that he had learned by talking with other property owners in that area of the island that the roundabout is their preference.

As part of that plan, he continued, Avenida Veneccia should be made a one-way street between Columbus Boulevard and Avenida Messina, which would stop what he characterized as “the ‘racetrack’ through the neighborhood.”

Traffic would have to access Avenida Veneccia via Columbus Boulevard, he noted.

Holderness also has proposed a gate west of the roundabout, which he said the property owners would pay for and maintain as part of the effort to eliminate what those property owners consider to be an excess of vehicles in the neighborhood.

He did emphasize in his email that maintaining public pedestrian access would be a key factor in the plans.

Responding to an earlier exchange with Holderness over the Beach Access 2 traffic issues, Anderson wrote in a June 21 email, “We have something in the works for the intersection of Veneccia and Messina. Not quite as restrictive as your outline but hopefully productive. We’ll provide once it’s fully developed.”

In a July 9 email, Anderson reported, “At this time, Beach Access #2 (at the north end of Beach Road) provides one handicap spot and appropriate signage to allow for enforcement of [No Parking] areas along Beach Road within the Mira Mar subdivision. We are working on plans to potentially reconfigure the intersection of Avenida Veneccia and Avenida Messina to try and redirect automobiles from Beach Access #2 as parking is not permitted in the public right of way at this location other than the one handicap spot.”

Another parking petition for the Traffic Advisory Council

Along with the North Shell Road parking changes on its Sept. 9 agenda, Sarasota County’s Traffic Advisory Council (TAC) is scheduled to consider a petition regarding parking restrictions on Avenida Leona.

For those unfamiliar with the street, it intersects Calle Minorga in the area behind the SunTrust bank branch and the Old Salty Dog restaurant in Siesta Village.

The petition formally was submitted to the TAC on Dec. 27, 2018 by Edward Braun, an Avenida Leona resident.

“During tourist season,” the petition says, “our street is used extensively for parking by visitors. Although Avenida Milano and Avenida Madero, neighboring similar streets, have signs prohibiting parking on both sides of the street, Avenida does not have such signs.”

The petition adds, “Cars are constantly parking on both sides of the street endangering pedestrians and bicyclists, making it difficult for our service vehicles to travel, and no doubt obstructing emergency vehicles if such were needed.”

Along with Braun, five other Avenida Leona residents signed the petition.

Under the county’s guidelines for TAC petitions, a certain number of signatures of unrelated affected residents is necessary to get an item on a TAC agenda. For local streets, the form points out, the threshold is five signatures, or 20% “of the local street’s abutting property residents (within 1500 feet of the same street),” whichever figure is greater.

The TAC is set to meet at 2 p.m. on Sept. 9 in the County Commission Chambers in the County Administration Center in downtown Sarasota, which is located at 1660 Ringling Blvd.

Deep discounts being offered

Siesta Nails & Spa, located a few doors down from Hooters Restaurant, in the Sarasota Pavillion, is under new management and offering some deep discounts August 1 – 7, to celebrate their grand re-opening.  Their spa has been completely remodeled and refurnished and they’re eager to show it off.  Call them at 941-556-9048 to find out what specials they have in store for you or stop in to see all the updates.  Siesta Nails & Spa is located at 6517 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Coconuts Outlet Store closing

After 37 years we are closing our Coconuts Outlet Store in the corner of Captain Curt’s Plaza, directly behind Captain Curt’s restaurant. Everything must go, Clothing/Bags/Jewelry/Crocs- $5 $10 $20 and 50% off racks- Open Daily 10-6. Located at 1218 Old Stickney Point Road, Siesta Key in Captain Curt’s Plaza. Many thanks to the Stewart Family of Captain Curt’s for being such great landlords over the years. This does not affect our main store Coconuts next to Crescent Beach Grocery.

About 36,000 of untreated sewage spilled into Grand Canal on Siesta Key

Approximately 36,000 gallons of untreated sewage spilled into the Grand Canal from Siesta Key’s master pump station on July 9, the county reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

The incident was a result of a failure at Sarasota County’s Lockwood Ridge Road booster station, the FDEP report explained.

County staff manually opened a valve at the Lockwood Ridge facility to divert some of the flow of effluent to the north, which eased the pressure in the sewer force main from Siesta Key, the report said. Then the flow increased from the Siesta master pump station, the report added, which stopped the spill.

The incident occurred about 5:30 p.m. on July 9, the county report added. The Siesta facility is adjacent to the Siesta Isles neighborhood.

About 14,700 gallons of the wastewater was recovered from the canal, the report noted. Samples were taken, the report said, and lime was distributed in the immediate vicinity of the spill as a mitigation measure.

The National Lime Association explains that treatment with lime helps limit the growth of pathogens in wastewater.

Catherine Luckner, president of the Siesta Key Association (SKA) reported that the recovery effort focused on the swales around the master pump station. Residents had not reported any odor issues, she added.

However, she continued, SKA leaders were surprised that the county did not issue an alert via its CodeRed system, which is used in public safety and emergency situations.

In a July 12 statement emailed to SNL, Dave Cash, manager of the county’s Water/Wastewater Division, reported that the Public Utilities Department staff was working to correct the issue that resulted in no CodeRed alert to residents living around the Grand Canal. He added that staff would work to make certain that a CodeRed notification would go out “if another spill occurs.”

“In addition,” he wrote in the email, “utilities staff continues to review the incident in order to identify additional enhancements to the (sewer) system.”

SNL also learned that Jamie Carson, manager of the county’s Communications Department, interviewed Mike Mylett, director of the county’s Public Utilities Department, during a Facebook Live event after the spill, asking him about the lack of CodeRed notification.

Mylett’s responses mirrored the email from Cash. Mylett affirmed for Carson that the issuance of a CodeRed alert in such a situation is “standard protocol.”

In early 2018, county staff completed its years-long project to transform what had been the Siesta Key Wastewater Treatment Plant into the master pump station, which sends effluent off the island for treatment. If Hurricane Irma had not struck the state in September 2017, the project probably would have been completed before the end of 2017, Robert Luckner, a member of the Siesta Key Association’s Environmental Committee, told the nonprofit’s members in January 2018.

Prior to the Siesta plant’s decommissioning, the county was operating it under a Consent Order with FDEP. That order officially called for the cessation of wastewater treatment at the facility before the end of June 2018.

SOSS2 achieves a milestone

In his 55th newsletter for Save Our Siesta Sand 2 (SOSS2), issued on July 15, Chair Peter van Roekens had big news.

“For the past six years the Board and I have dedicated our lives to achieving two goals,” he wrote:

“1. Stopping the dredge of the Big Pass Shoal.

“2. Raising enough money to pay for our attorneys and expert witnesses so we can achieve our number one goal.”

Van Roekens continued, “I am very relieved and pleased to announce that with the donations received after our last newsletter, we have reached our funding goals for this phase! I especially want to thank our Matching Fund donors and all our friends, family and those members who we do not know personally, who have so steadfastly contributed to achieve this result.”

He added, “Now, with renewed energy, we can devote all our attention to our primary goal of stopping the dredge of the Big Pass Shoal.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the City of Sarasota have proposed publicly since late summer of 2013 to remove sand from Big Pass to renourish South Lido Key Beach. SOSS2 was established as a Florida nonprofit organization in March 2014 to fight those plans, fearing that the dredging of the pass — which never has been done — would lead to severe property damage on Siesta Key and drastically impede navigation in the waterway. (See the related story in this issue.)

As van Roekens has pointed out on numerous occasions, SOSS2 is fully supportive of the proposal to stabilize the Lido Beach. However, he and his board members and supporters believe the sand should come from a different source.

In January, SOSS2 filed a lawsuit against the USACE in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, arguing that the USACE has violated a number of federal policies by proceeding with plans for the Lido project without ever having conducted an in-depth analysis called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The USACE has maintained that its modeling shows no harm will come to Big Pass or Siesta Key if it dredges the pass.

In his newsletter this week, van Roekens reported that SOSS2 had sought the court’s approval to file additional materials for the case record.

The USACE did submit into the record one of the documents on the SOSS2 list of materials the nonprofit believes the court should review, van Roekens added. The USACE conceded that its failure to provide that material to the court was an oversight. However, the USACE has argued against the inclusion of the rest of the supplemental materials SOSS2 cited in its June 6 motion.

After the judge reviews the latest filings by the USACE and SOSS2 related to the administrative record, van Roekens wrote, SOSS2 would file its opening motion for summary judgment in the case. He anticipated that would take place in August.

 “[W]e expect a ruling in this case early next year,” he added in the newsletter, although the original timeline the court laid out indicated the litigation likely would be concluded late this fall.

If the USACE attempted to begin dredging the pass before the case has been completed, van Roekens pointed out, SOSS2 would file for an injunction to stop that initiative.

“Again, we thank our members for their outstanding support, and we hope we can prevail in this critical defense of Siesta Key,” he concluded the newsletter.

Plenty of July Fourth garbage for volunteers to collect

On July 5, through the Liberty Litter Cleanup initiative, 128 volunteers collected 0.74 tons of garbage and 0.38 tons of recyclables, Keep Sarasota County Beautiful (KSCB) announced via Twitter. The volunteers worked on seven county beaches the day after the July Fourth festivities, county Media Relations Officer Drew Winchester reported. Altogether, the volunteers put in 230 hours, he added. Altogether, approximately 8,000 trash bags were distributed on July Fourth to people on the county-maintained beaches, Winchester reported, in an effort to encourage the proper disposal of garbage.

As for the Fourth itself: Ann Frescura, executive director of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, reported that the organization’s 29th annual free fireworks show at the beach “was fantastic, and the fact that the rain held off was a huge plus!”

She added that approximately 125 guests attended the Chamber’s sponsor hospitality event that evening at Siesta Public Beach. 

“We are very appreciative of all of our sponsors, volunteers, and the assistance from the Sheriff’s Office, EMS Service, County Staff, and the SRQ Vets,” Frescura wrote in an email. As a result of everyone’s efforts, she continued, “it was a great event!”

A dip in Village property values

With the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office having released its official July 1 property values for tax purposes, SNL found that the figure for the Siesta Key Village Public Improvement District actually went down a bit from the preliminary total released in late May.

The official July 1 value is $76,939,662. The preliminary value for June 1 was $77,015,705. By SNL’s calculation, that drop is slightly less than 1%.

The owners of property in the Public Improvement District are those assessed for the upkeep of the Village.

A new Adopt-A-Road initiative

Anyone who knows Siesta resident Michael Shay knows he is passionate about trying to keep the Key clean.

For years, Shay and his wife, Maria, have volunteered for the special events sponsored by Keep Sarasota County Beautiful (KSCB).

Now the Shays formally have adopted their own stretch of road through KSCB.

After the couple arrived on the island in 2009, he learned that the Siesta Key Association (SKA) and the Siesta Key Village Association were involved in the KSCB Adopt-A-Road program. (The Village Association was folded into the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce a number of years later.)

The two organizations were responsible for two stretches of road, Shay continued: Ocean Boulevard from Higel Avenue to Beach Road, and Midnight Pass Road from Stickney Point Road to Turtle Beach.

Shay — who served for several years on the SKA board — added that in February, he received the following email from the county:

“Requests were sent out via email in December 2018 and January 2019 asking Adoption Partners to renew their commitment to the Keep Sarasota County Beautiful Adoption Program for this calendar year. Since we did not receive the renewal paperwork for this year, I wanted to reach out personally to follow up. 

“If you are interested in continuing in the adoption program, please complete BOTH the renewal Application and Agreement of Maintenance by February 28. If you are no longer interested in participating, please respond as such and we will remove you from the program.

“We thank you for your past service to Keep Sarasota County Beautiful and hope to continue working with you in the future!”

Shay reported that he forwarded the email to SKA President Catherine Luckner and to Ann Frescura, executive director of the Chamber. He also told the KSCB staff that if the SKA and the Chamber did not renew their adoptions with the county, he would be interested in adopting the Ocean Boulevard section. “And so I did!” he added.

Shortly after he signed the agreement with KSCB on June 18, he continued, Luckner called him to ask if the SKA could partner with him on the initiative. She told him that the nonprofit had intended to renew its participation in the Adopt-A-Road program, but the person responsible for communicating with the county had failed to act in a timely fashion.  

Shay said he declined the partnership offer.

On the morning of July 12, he continued, he was running errands when he noticed that a county crew had just finished installing a KSCB sign on the north end of Ocean Boulevard. A similar sign was to be erected at the south end of the road, he added. 

The KSCB sign says, “Adopted by Michael & Maria Shay & Friends.”

“I had spoken to friends about this [plan to keep the road segment clean] and have folks interested in volunteering, which is great!” Shay said.

The group will clean the road bimonthly, he pointed out, even though the county requires a minimum of one cleanup initiative per quarter.

For the plovers, a safe Fourth

After urging the public to help protect nesting birds on the county’s shoreline during the July Fourth festivities, Kylie Wilson, coordinator of Audubon Florida’s Bird Monitoring & Stewardship Program in Sarasota County, had great news on July 7. All the birds survived the holiday weekend, she wrote. “There were minimal disturbances, largely in part to all of those who came out to volunteer so THANK YOU!!!” she added.

In the meantime, she continued, the banded snowy plover that nested earlier on Siesta, only to lose eggs to predators, has been spotted with a nest on the beach in Englewood. Wilson added that she hoped the bird — dubbed Ms. Sanibel because of the green-and-white band on the bird’s leg — would be able to find success there.

Store closes in the Village

Everything But Water, the women’s resort wear shop for swimsuits, cover-ups, sundresses, sandals, hats & other accessories located at 5131 Ocean Blvd next to the Village Café recently closed this location.