Siesta Key Island Chatter

Written by Siesta Sand Staff

Local Artist Creates Siesta Key Souvenir Coloring Book

Local resident Pam Trapani recently completed a Siesta Key Coloring Book.

Pam and her husband Drew, snowbirds for fourteen years, built a home and became permanent residents of Siesta Key three years ago.

Her love of Siesta Key inspired her to create the coloring book and to have it published and distributed locally to support the local merchants that make Siesta Key and Sarasota so special.

The coloring book is the perfect gift and ideal souvenir for kids, grandkids, and all visitors who come to our Key.  Included in the book are thirty-four original drawings of local shops, restaurants, wildlife, and of course, numerous drawings of our famous beaches.

The Souvenir Coloring Book is now available in shops and restaurants on Siesta Key including:

The Gift Shop at the Siesta Key Main Beach Pavilion, Sunshine & Sand Hidden Treasures and Davidson Drug Store at the south end of the Key. In the village at The Old Salty Dog, The Village Café, Davidson Drug Store and the Sea Shanty Gift Shop.

For our snowbirds and out of town visitors, contact Pam Trapani at  siestakeycreations@gmail.com to have coloring books shipped to you.

Big bills to pay

About four weeks before the nonprofit’s initial brief was due at the Second District Court of Appeal, in its Big Sarasota Pass legal case, the Siesta Key Association (SKA) was facing a big bill, Director Robert Luckner told members on Jan. 9.

“Boy, fighting City Hall’s not easy,” Luckner said.

Last fall, he reminded the approximately 80 audience members, he had made it plain that the nonprofit would need a considerable amount of money to continue its litigation to try to force the City of Sarasota to obtain permission from Sarasota County to remove up to 1.3 million cubic yards of sand from Big Pass to enourish about 1.56 miles of South Lido Key Beach.

In November and December 2019, Luckner continued, members came through, contributing $20,000.

Nonetheless, Luckner noted, that was about half the total the SKA expects it will need for its Second District Court of Appeal case.

During the Feb. 6 SKA meeting, Luckner reported that the organization had received a total of $6,900 in January to use for its legal expenses. Of that amount, he noted, $5,300 was contributed to the Siesta Key Environmental Defense Fund (SKEDF), which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Several years ago, the SKA board established the SKEDF as a means of allowing members and others to make tax-deductible donations. Directors have encouraged members to make use of that opportunity to support the SKA’s work on their behalf.

In response to a request from the News Leader, Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier wrote in a Feb. 6 email, “The amount [the city has] spent on the Siesta Key Association suit originally filed in 2017 is $158,216.29.

Chamber announces dates for member meetings

Regular readers will recall that in January, we reported that Ann Frescura, executive director of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, was working with outgoing board Chair Eric Fleming and incoming Chair Mason Tush to revise the schedule for the Chamber’s quarterly meetings for members.

In its February newsletter, the Chamber staff has included those dates on its 2020 Calendar of Events. The first quarterly meeting is set for March 18; the second will be on June 17; the third, on Sept. 16; and the fourth, on Dec. 16.

Last year, the Chamber board relocated the meetings to the Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar in Siesta Village. However, Frescura told the SNL in early February that the decision had been made to hold the sessions at the newer Daiquiri Deck, located on Stickney Point Road.

The board will conduct a brief meeting first on the quarterly meeting dates, beginning at 8:30 a.m.; then, the session for members will begin about 9 a.m., Frescura added.

Siesta Key Marina sold to nation’s largest marina company

Safe Harbor Marinas, which calls itself “the largest owner and operator of marinas in the United States,” formally announced in late January that it had purchased the Siesta Key Marina, located at 1265 Old Stickney Point Road on approximately 1.7 acres.

The new name of the facility is Safe Harbor Siesta Key, a news release pointed out. It is the area’s only full-service marina, the Safe Harbor Siesta Key website noted.

Safe Harbor paid $2,422,100 on Dec. 6, 2019 for the property, Sarasota County Property Appraiser Office records show. In 2019, the total market value of the land and buildings was $2,722,900, the Property Appraiser’s Office says.

Safe Harbor is based in Dallas. The Siesta property is its 12th in Florida, according to a map on its website.

Colliers International Leisure Property Advisors brokered the sale, according to a news release that firm issued. Siesta Key Marina had been owned since October 2016 by Andy Eggebrecht, Maurice Dentici and their families, through a limited liability company called MADD Marine Holdings, Florida Division of Corporations records note. The families paid $2.7 million for the parcel, Sarasota County Property Appraiser Office records also show.

The Eggebrechts and Denticis will continue to operate the Spearfish Grille restaurant — which opened in March 2018 — and the marina’s boat tour service, leasing those spaces from Safe Harbor, according to the Colliers International news release.

“In the marina business, we continue to see the consolidation of family-owned facilities to larger operators like Safe Harbor,” Matt Putnam, managing director of Colliers International, said in the news release. “It’s not uncommon because large operators can run facilities more efficiently with economies of scale,” he added in the release.

Given the negative national publicity about red tide in 2018 and early 2019, marinas on the Gulf Coast suffered financially, Dan Grovatt, director of Collier’s International, pointed out in the release. That situation kept marina operators from looking to purchase properties along the Gulf Coast, he noted in the release. However, that hesitancy has dissipated, Grovatt added.

Promotional materials for Siesta Key Marina, featured on the Colliers International website, listed the following investment highlights: “Irreplaceable Southwest Florida Location,” “Tremendous In-Place Cash Flow,” approximately 250 rentable units, “Situated Within A High-Growth [metropolitan statistical area],” and “Rare Acquisition Opportunity.”

Safe Harbor Siesta Key’s website says it has 243 storage racks and 22 boats for rent. The business also offers “Master Yamaha Techs,” fuel and bait, and snacks and beverages, the website adds, along with the SpearFish Grille and a waterfront tiki bar on site.

The marina opened in 1961, the website notes.

Second Special Exception petition headed for a hearing

Regular readers may recall that a Special Exception petition also has been filed with county Planning and Development Services Department staff regarding a house located at 5228 Calle Menorca.

The applicant hopes to obtain county approval for the property to be classified as “transient accommodations,” so he can rent it out for periods of less than 30 days.

That petition was scheduled to be heard by the Planning Commission on Feb. 20, a notation on the county’s interactive Planning and Development Services map said, which was beyond the publication deadline for this issue of Siesta Sand.

The owners of the property are Max Nuebler Jr. and Paula J. Nuebler, who bought it in August 1985, county Property Appraiser Office records show.

The market value of the parcel in 2019 was $575,839, the records note.

A Nov. 26, 2019 letter to county Planning and Development Services Department staff from attorney G. Matthew Brockway, with the Icard Merrill firm in Sarasota, identifies the applicant as Chad Waites. A copy of a document accompanying the letter — a Michael Saunders & Co. contract for sale and purchase — says Waites plans to buy the property, contingent upon county approval of the Special Exception. Waites signed the form on Feb. 19, 2019.

Brockway noted in his letter that the parcel comprises only about 0.10 acres. Located on the west side of Calle Menorca, it is surrounded by commercial properties, he added.

The structure contains two dwelling units, which are rented for periods of 30 days or longer, Brockway pointed out.

“While cosmetic and interior improvements to the existing building are contemplated in connection with the proposed Special Exception,” he continued, “no material changes or improvements will be made to the Property.”

Waites “contemplates removing the kitchens of the existing dwelling units, including 220[-volt] electrical service to the kitchens, prior to commencement of rentals for periods of less than [30 days,” Brockway added. “No site improvements or alterations are required or contemplated …”

The protocol for road swap hearing comments

In early January, the News Leader asked Brian Rick, spokesman for District One of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), what protocol the department would follow in the aftermath of a Dec. 11, 2019 public hearing on the planned swap of Siesta roads to the state later this year.

At the time — right after the holidays — Rick was unable to get any answers, he responded, because the people who could answer that question were not in the office.

On Jan. 28, he reported that he finally had an answer about the handling of the formal remarks made during the hearing at Siesta Key Chapel, as well as those submitted to District One staff via email.

“All the comments are gathered into a technical memo for public records request,” Rick wrote in a Jan. 28 email. “The memo is also a part of the transfer agreement package submitted to the district secretary and Central Office in Tallahassee. There is no dedicated website for this agreement.”

The County Commission approved the final road swap document in October 2019. In exchange for the state’s assuming authority for River Road in South County, Sarasota County will take control of Stickney Point Road west of U.S. 41; Midnight Pass Road north of the Stickney Point Road intersection; Higel Avenue; Siesta Drive west of Osprey Avenue; Bay Road; and a section of Osprey Avenue south of Siesta Drive.

The Siesta roads are expected to be transferred to the county in September.

SKA announces speaker for March 5th meeting

Dr. Charles Reith, a recognized global expert in energy efficiency and leader of Reith Energy will be the featured speaker at the March 5th Siesta Key Association meeting. Dr. Reith will be speaking on the subject of ‘Affordable Energy for Healthier Communities.’

Dr. Reith has had a 25-year distinguished career in energy, mining, agriculture, environmental remediation, waste management, and academia. His responsibilities have included executive management, project execution, technical analysis, solution development, and sustainability auditing. He has also provided management and professional training through short-courses, webinars, and broadcasts.

His clients include multinational firms such as ExxonMobil, Shell, and Newgold; national resource companies such as Petroleo Mexicano, Abu Dhabi Gas Liquefaction, and Petroleos de Venezuela SA; resource ministries in Trinidad, Egypt, Peru, and Ghana; and dozens of small businesses, municipalities, and NGOs.

He served as Vice President of Environmental Safety and Health for DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations Company, which manages the United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

Throughout his consulting career, Dr. Reith served academia as professor, administrator, and staff member at four Universities: American University of Nigeria, Tulane University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and George Mason University.

He is a Certified Permaculture Designer, a Licensed Horticulturalist, and a Licensed Landscape Contractor; these credentials supported his founding and leadership of Naturally Green, a company that designed, installed, and maintained environmentally responsible landscapes in Southern Louisiana.

In his capacity as founder of Naturally Green, Professor at Tulane University, and acting Executive Director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, Charles was very active in planning the disaster recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Charles has a PhD in Ecology from the University of New Mexico.  He has published three books and dozens of technical and popular publications, and has hosted Backyard Wonders, a regional nature TV series.

In 1990, Dr. Reith received the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Award from President George H.W. Bush for volunteer work on environmental justice in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico.