Island chatter: April

Siesta falls from No. 1 to 17 on TripAdvisor top-beach list
After being recognized in 2020 as No. 1 on TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Top 25 Beaches list for the United States, Siesta Key Beach fell to No. 17 this year.
The new No. 1 is St. Pete Beach, followed by Ka’anapali Beach on the island of Maui, in Hawaii, as No. 2.
Other Florida beaches that snagged spots on the latest list were Madeira Beach, at No. 9; Ormond Beach, at No. 12; Henderson Beach State Park in Destin, at No. 13; Pensacola Beach, at No. 15; Treasure Island Beach, at No. 16; and Clearwater Beach, at No. 18.
Altogether, seven beaches in Hawaii were honored, putting it in second place behind Florida for 2021.
Based on 7,816 reviews on TripAdvisor, Siesta Beach received 4.5 out of five stars.
TripAdvisor cited 5,160 reviews for St. Pete Beach, which also earned 4.5 stars.
And while Ka’anapali Beach had 4.5 stars as well, TripAdvisor noted 9,203 reviews for it.
Out of all the reviews for Siesta Beach, 6,205 rated it “Excellent”; 1,104 marked it “Very Good”; 105 gave it a “Poor” rating; and 97 marked it “Terrible,” TripAdvisor’s website showed.

Chamber roster increases
The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce has added the following to its membership list:
CDJ Inspections, Create Seven, Esther Eti Farber of Keller Williams Classic Group, Happy Home Watch of Sarasota, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Sarasota East I-75, Angela Lista of Michael Saunders & Co., Parrot Beach Cottages Siesta Key, Lisa Gullick of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Siesta Key Watersports, Suncoast Luxury Real Estate, The Conciege Home Watch & Management, and Low Tide Tours.
Great American Cleanup
is April 17 at public beaches
The annual Great American Cleanup on Siesta Key is slated for 8 to 11 a.m. April 17. Volunteers are being asked to help pick up debris at both Siesta and Turtle beaches.
That same day, from 7 to 10 a.m., a turtle sculpture will be unveiled in the grassy area near the Siesta Beach pavilion.

Beach Road appeal update
Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal announced that it had “provisionally set” Siesta Key resident Mike Cosentino’s North Beach Road case for oral arguments at 11 a.m. on April 13.
Although Cosentino’s nonprofit Reopen Beach Road originally was a co-plaintiff in the action, the Tampa attorney he hired last year to assist with the appeal withdrew.
Therefore, “Reopen Beach Road, Inc., is foreclosed from filing additional briefing, participating in oral argument, and filing any post-decision motions,” the docket noted.
Cosentino originally filed his case in June 2016, after the County Commission voted 4-1 to vacate a 373-foot-long portion of North Beach Road starting at the Columbus Boulevard intersection.
If indeed oral arguments are conducted on April 13, Cosentino will go it alone in trying to persuade the Court of Appeal that the 12th Judicial Circuit Court’s final order in favor of Sarasota County should be overturned.

Sunrise service cancelled
Due to the pandemic, the April 4 sunrise service on Siesta Beach has been cancelled, according to Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources.
The annual Easter service is hosted by Pine Shores Presbyterian Church.

Easter-egg hunt is April 3
An Easter-egg hunt and children’s party will be held from 9 a.m. to noon April 3 on Siesta Key’s Turtle Beach, 8918 Midnight Pass Rd.
The event, sponsored by the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, is geared toward children ages 1 through 6. It will be limited to 175 participants and the cost is $10 per child. Each child will receive a goodie bag.
The outing will feature photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny, games and prizes, and the serving of Kona Ice.
A mounted patrol will be on site, and at 10 a.m. there will be a drive-by visit by fire trucks and ambulances.
At 10:30 a.m., an animal education session will be held with Stella the Sloth.
To register for the event, visit SiestaKeyChamber.com or call the chamber at (941) 349-3800.

Law enforcement sees early Spring Break activity
Spring Break season appeared to get an early start in February, Sgt. Arik Smith, leader of the Sheriff’s Office substation on the Key, has reported.
The total number of calls for service was 365, Smith said. Of those, 23 — about 6% — were of the more serious nature that the FBI used to classify as “Part 1 crimes.”
“We had two vehicle burglaries; we had six assault and battery cases, [for] all of which we have suspects identified and arrested,” he noted.
Additionally, six bicycle thefts were reported, he continued.
In all of those cases it appeared that locks had been cut, Smith said.
Extra deputies will be on patrol every day, he said, and members of the Mounted Patrol will be out on the public beach each day.

Fire chief shares numbers
Sarasota County Fire Chief Mike Regnier recently reported on the activity of local Fire Station 13.
In 2020, the Fire Department dealt with 1,653 on the Key.
In 2019 it handled 1,569 incidents.
Out of the 2020 total on the island, 1,208 were related to emergency medical situations; 44 entailed motor vehicle collisions, including one extraction; three incidents involved pedestrians struck by motor vehicles; 31 elevator rescues; 10 water/surf rescues; and nine watercraft rescues took place.
Of the 445 fire-related calls, two involved structure fires; 18 others entailed other types of fires; 42 involved hazardous conditions; 188 false alarms were recorded; crews dealt with two lightning strikes without fires; and 77 calls were for other types of service.
The mean response time from 911 Dispatch receiving a call to a fire or rescue vehicle’s leaving Station 13 was 1.1 minutes. From the time of departure to arrival on scene, the mean time was 6.1 minutes.
March and June 2020 were tied for the highest number of EMS calls in a month at 128. February was in second place with 122 and January was in third place, with 112.