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Progress on ‘the Pit’

By Rachel Brown Hackney
SarasotaNewsLeader.com

Past SKA President Gene Kusekoski told not just SNL but also attendees of the SKA’s March 2 Annual Breakfast Meeting about a recent bicycling incident involving one of his friends.

“My biking buddy fell into ‘The Pit’ across from Aloha Kai this week,” Kusekoski first reported to SNL in a March 1 email. He included a photo of The Pit that was taken in 2017. (Aloha Kai is located at 6020 Midnight Pass Road.)

“Fortunately he’s not seriously hurt but he has a lot of cuts and bruises,” Kusekoski noted of his friend. “We’ve complained to both the county and [the Florida Department of Transportation] FDOT for two years on this, but it never gets fixed.”

Kusekoski then pointed out that the manager of Aloha Kai “actually reported [The Pit] to FDOT a year or two ago, but the crew put asphalt in front of her place instead of in the hole across the street! She ran out when she saw the workers and said, ‘No! It’s across the street!’ They told her the work order said Aloha Kai, so that’s where the asphalt was going!” Kusekoski wrote.

During the SKA meeting, Kusekoski explained that, after his friend was injured, Kusekoski used the SeeClickFix app Sarasota County launched a couple of years ago to report The Pit problem to the county. (SeeClickFix allows a person to take a photo of a situation and email it to county staff, so staff can address it.)

“Next day,” he continued during the March 2 meeting, “there was an FDOT guy down there saying he was going to fix the problem” across from Aloha Kai.”

After the March 2 SKA meeting, Kusekoski again emailed SNL. “I went out to Key Solutions to see the results of the repair that FDOT had done on the uneven sidewalk transition. They did get rid of the big hole, but I can’t say that I’m impressed with the repair. I don’t know what would happen if a bike rode over that glop, but I’m not willing to risk trying. I give it a few weeks before it crumbles and disappears. I don’t feel like they’re taking this seriously …”

SNL asked county staff whether Kusekoski’s SeeClickFix report simply was referred to FDOT. Media Relations Officer Drew Winchester confirmed that the information was passed along to FDOT’s customer service staff, as FDOT still is responsible for that part of Midnight Pass Road on the Key.

Kusekoski also provided a strong endorsement for SeeClickFix during the SKA’s March 2 meeting. “I’m a big fan of that. … It really works.”