I've seen many articles about the parking and traffic problems on Siesta. About a year ago I suggested a comprehensive parking and traffic plan for the village. Commissioner Al Maio encouraged me to work with Mark Smith and county staff to consult and formulate a plan.
After many meetings and a lot of work, we had a comprehensive concept plan that utilized the existing rights-of-way proximal to the village. The plan provided about 100 additional spaces, while including opportunities for drainage, landscape improvements and pedestrian/ traffic safety. There's no need to buy additional land or build an unsightly garage. Key elements of the plan include parking along Canal Road and other RMF resort areas like Columbus and Avenida Messina.
A stop sign was suggested for Canal Road at Avenida de Mayo to slow vehicle entry into the pedestrian zones. Underdrains and landscape were suggested for drainage and buffering issues between the back side of commercial areas and Resorts along Calle Menorca. The valet operation at Avenida Messina was moved off the travelway and further from the intersection of Ocean Blvd to alleviate congestion and facilitate traffic flow. The dangerous substandard intersection at Columbus and Avenida Messina was improved to decrease pavement, increase landscape and modify traffic flow, incorporating a standard intersection and stop sign. More parking was available across from the Salty Dog along Ocean Blvd. We also discussed the opportunity for property owners in the village area to obtain temporary permits to accommodate overflow parking needs for special events.
I'd like to thank Mark Smith for his valuable time and effort. Commissioner Al Maio did a great job of getting the right staff members involved, who were all very helpful and capable.
Unfortunately, the plan died. Why? Politics and budgeting. I was told, the Mira-Mar parking district permit holder does not want more parking, especially since they monopolize available spaces. The local business owners do not want more taxes since Siesta already contributes a disproportionate share of revenue. Would the business owners and valet operators support elements of the plan with other funding sources?
The county owns the rights-of -way (ROW) and issues permits for valet operations in the ROW. They also issue permits for expansion of village commercial operations. Presumably, these permits should require efficient, safe and orderly use of the public lands and ROW, including valet operations and traffic flow. Presumably, the county may determine where parking is needed within the ROW, especially when it meets transportation standards. Additional parking benefits the general public as well as local business. It also provides needed employee parking. Funding sources could include annual parking permit fees, proposed paid parking from the main public beach facility and tourist tax revenue.
A committee of locals, professional planners, staff and an elected official cannot implement plans without citizen support. Parking is a revenue generator, and when planned along with landscape, pedestrian and traffic improvements, can have long term public benefits. If you'd like to revive the plan that died or offer your own suggestions, please view the plans available at the Local Bean and LeLus coffee in the Village. Voice opinions to your elected officials. Let them know we need comprehensive, economical and efficient solutions to these issues. You can influence our next Capital Improvements Plan.
Bob Stahlschmidt, Siesta Key resident
Your Sarasota Real Estate Professional
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