Island Chatter SKA News

| February 1, 2016

Siesta Beach Grand Opening Celebration

Brad Gaubatz from Sarasota County was the featured speaker discussing the wrap up of the Siesta Beach project at the January SKA meeting.
Gaubatz started out the discussion announcing the Park’s Grand Opening taking place on February 20. “This promises to be a festive occasion. The new park features pre-cast shelters, a new east pavilion, new tennis courts with pickle ball, a new Public Safety Building with a greater than 180 degree view of the park, a building which will also house a first aid clinic. A paver esplanade runs the entire length of the park” stated Gaubatz.

An impressively-efficient County Staff and General Contractor were able to complete 7 of the 8 things on the “wish list”. The only thing on that list that was not yet completed is building a covered shelter at the Maintenance Yard. Gaubatz said they may still be able to build this at a later date.
Gaubatz went on to say, “Amazingly, while deep in the throes of construction, Siesta Key Beach was named # 1 in the nation and 14th in the world! It was impressive that Sarasota County was able to keep the park open and operational during the entire period of construction. The county took a 1950’s era park and brought it up to today’s standards. Furthermore, they pulled off this retrofit without going over budget.”
Bond funding for the project is being paid off from the general tax revenue. Some tourist development monies were also included, since the beach serves tourists. Bob Luckner pointed out that some 15 million dollars of the funds are generated from the penny tax.

When asked about Security Cameras, Gaubatz said the decision was made to provide conduits should the county want to add cameras at a later date. Cameras need to be monitored, meaning that the operational costs of running cameras are higher than the actual cost of equipment.

Additional highlights from the SKA meeting
County Commissioner Alan Mayo was in attendance at the meeting. Mayo said that he recently had been at the opening of the 2nd new Fire House built in the last 14 months.  The county is growing. Two more new Fire Houses will be opened in April. He reminded the audience that a referendum will be held in November of 2016. A proposal for new public safety facilities will be on that ballot.

SKA Board member Beverly Arias reported that the Membership Drive is underway. Deet Jonker reminded everyone that the organization saves time and money when members join on-line instead of by mail. Go to www.SiestaKeyAssociation.com to join, or leave a message at 941.364.4880, and you will receive a callback. The fee is $30. The more members SKA has, the more attention they will get from local government. Each member is entitled to 2 tickets for the March 5 Member Breakfast.

Giving an update on the Big Pass Dredging project, Vice President Catherine Luckner reported that on December 5, 2015, a second request was sent to the Army Corps of Engineers to respond to a list of questions.
If the Corps does not respond to every single question on that list before April 7, 2016 (6 month deadline), their application will be dismissed. The Corps can of course reapply or ask for an extension. Delay is our friend.

Joe Volpe said both Bob and Catherine Luckner have put hundreds of hours on the issue of Big Pass. The room broke into appreciative applause for their extraordinary service.

The next SKA monthly meeting is Thursday, 2/4/2016 at 4:30 pm.

 

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