Off Islands

| June 1, 2015

By Rodger Skidmore

If you cut sea grape trees do they cry salty tears
People laughed when Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her house. Well, if she lived on Little Diomede Island, Alaska she would be able to see Russia (Big Diomede Island – part of the Chukogke Autonomous Okrug, Russia) as it is only 2.4 miles away. And she would be able to see Russia 24 hours each day in summer as there is always daylight in the Arctic in July. How does that relate to us? 

Simple, it seems that the legislators in Tallahassee think they can see all the way down to the Sleepy Lagoon Beach Access on Longboat Key, and everywhere else in Southwest Florida, from their chambers. In years past, if someone cut down mangrove or sea grape trees, Sarasota or Manatee county would step in, find the culprit and fine them. But because the senators and representatives of our fair state have voted to take on that responsibility (but did not vote for the funds to enforce those rules) people can cut down those trees whenever they choose. 

Normally developers or those that have their homes directly on the water do the cutting to enhance their property. However the sea grape trees on Longboat key that have been repeatably cut down are on public rather than private property. So, who did it? Either someone who lives on the other side of Gulf of Mexico Drive that wants a better view or perhaps the Caped Agriculturist with his superpower to shear through the toughest stem. Or just maybe someone who does not think sea grapes are very attractive and would like the town to plant something else there – especially since they’ve whacked the sea grape trees.

This is not a victimless crime as, with no trees along dunes, sand will not hold and erosion may occur. Also, potentially, there are very direct victims (other than taxpayers). In nesting season sea grape trees block light from houses which might disorient turtle hatchlings and head them in the wrong direction to their death.  Longboat Key Public Works, Department Parks and Recreation Manager Mark Richardson reported that over 20 trees were cut earlier this year. And, of course, the perpetrator(s) knew they were doing wrong as they covered up the stumps with branches so the crime would not be immediately apparent.

Police Chief Pete Cumming and Town Manager Dave Bullock are in agreement that the trees were cut down on purpose. Surely they would love to have someone give them an anonymous call to let them know what you know about the situation. 

Home is where your heart is ….

South of Linley Street

South of Linley Street

…. and the Linley Street Boat Ramp on Sarasota Bay is where your boat is. Or has been, for various residents of the Village of Longboat Key for over the last 20 years. Longer, one would hazard a guess, than any individual resident has lived in that area. 

There is a great play that has been performed a number of times at the Florida Studio Theatre, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. That seems to be an approach that some take, not just to a man or woman they meet, but also to houses they buy. See a charming neighborhood, move in and then ask for changes. Recently a village resident who just might live near Linley Street has submitted a partition to Town Manager Dave Bullock requesting that boats on town property just south of the boat ramp have created a parking problem and are not attractive. He would like the area returned to its natural beauty. Since no one alive in that area today remembers what it looked like over 20 years ago, what it looked like then might be mere conjecture. 

One could suppose, of course, that indians, back in the day, put their canoes there when not out on the bay fishing. If that were the case the village should pass an historic ordinance stating that a minimum of 15 kayaks and dinghies be placed there at all times. Perhaps that ordinance is what Mayor Jack Duncan is drafting while waiting for the proper time to address the issue after having received an email from another villager, Fred Kagi. In that communication Mr. Kagi questioned the redundancy of a  number of the signatures on the partition and whether or not others were those of actual residents. Kagi felt the kayaks added to the ambiance of the Village and probably also thought that having boats near a boat ramp added a bit of authenticity. Viewing an image on Google map, it does not look as laid back as Key West, but that might be just as well.

If NIMBY doesn’t work, try NITBY

Don’t like people partying on your block? Have your city change its rules and regulations so that it can’t be done. The preceding is a good example of NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard. But what if the people a block away are having parties too. Simple, apply the NITBY rule – Not In Their Back Yard.

NITBY is the rule the St. Armands Circle Association is now trying to apply. A while back they decided that having too many festivals during the Season brings in too many people who don’t have buying from St. Armands shops as their prime goal in life. Thus they have gotten the City of Sarasota to ban more than a certain number of festivals on St. Armands Key during Season. The Association has recently learned that two art festivals have been scheduled to be held on Lido Key next year, one in February and one in April. As these events would increase the traffic passing through the Circle, the Association is contemplating what actions could be taken to stop another key from having its own festivals. The outcome of this key dispute may depend on whose ear the Association is whispering into. Maybe we shouldn’t tell them that Longboat Key may be having a festival of its own.

Category: Columns

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