Siesta Key Roundup

An improved and renamed park

The transition from “Bay Island Park” to “Nora Patterson Bay Island Park” is now complete. At a dedication ceremony Sept. 18, the just-recently improved park was renamed in honor of former Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson. The dedication celebrated the renaming of the park, along with the completion of improvements at the park, which included the construction of a new sea wall and installation of new benches, fishing rails, signage and other improvements.

“We're honored to rename this beautiful facility after Nora Patterson, a retired beloved commissioner and excellent steward of public lands,” said Carolyn Brown, director of Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources. “We're also happy to unveil this newly improved park to the community, who are certain to enjoy this little piece of waterfront paradise.”Nora Patterson Bay Island Park is regularly used for recreational fishing, as a temporary landing spot for recreational boaters and an ideal place to take in great views of beautiful Sarasota Bay. Nora Patterson served as a Sarasota County Commissioner for 16 years as the commissioner for District 4. Long an advocate for public water access, Patterson said she was honored to have the park named after her. The current Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to rename the park after her in May.


New Boss on the Key

A familiar face has returned to the Key but in a new role. On September 18, a decision was made to fill the Sheriff’s Siesta Substation Sergeant position. Sergeant Jason Mruczek is the new Siesta Substation sergeant. He had worked at the substation up until his promotion a few years ago. Sgt. Mruczek fills the position vacated by Sgt. Osborne when he accepted a new position over 6 months ago.


St. Boniface Animal Blessing

BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS to be held on Saturday, October 3 at 10 a.m. in the Labyrinth Courtyard, St. Boniface Episcopal Church, 5615 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key. The occasion marks the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi and welcomes all animals appropriately caged or leashed. The event which has been celebrated for the past 10 years is sponsored by the Boniface Eco-Stewardship Team. Contributions of pet food for the Humane Society will be gladly accepted. Representatives from animal assistance agencies will be represented. Refreshments for animals and persons provided. Call Grace Riker 941-924-8908 for further information.


Big Real Estate Sale

On September 15, a home sold in the Sanderling Club on the southern part of the Key for $6.25 million.  At the time of press this single family home sale was the third largest sale in Sarasota this year. The 5,000-square-foot estate on two acres is located right between the Gulf of Mexico and the Heron Lagoon.


Final Numbers for the 2015 Bird Nesting Season

Snowy Plovers: There were 23 nests on Siesta Key, and there were 9 nesting pairs. Two of the nests hatched. One nest hatched 3 chicks and fledged 2, while the other nest hatched 1 chick (potentially 3) but didn't fledge any. There was 1 nest on Lido Key. The nest hatched 2 of 3 eggs. None of these chicks fledged.

Least Terns: There was one colony of LETE located on Siesta Key. There were 45 nests, with about 100 adults but only 45 nesting pairs. Unfortunately, Fish Crows may have played a large part in the failure of this colony, but there were very few clues. The terns did not come back to repeat.

Black Skimmer: There was one colony of BLSK located on Lido Key. There were about 175 nesting pairs, with, at its peak, 450 adults within the colony. It's hard to get an exact count on the total number of nests, but at its peak there were about 160 nests. There were 183 chicks fledged from this colony. 

At the time of press, there are still about 30 fledglings with close to 80 adults near the colony site.


Siesta Key Oyster Bar News

New General Manager, Stephanie Brown, a Sarasota native and new Executive Chef, Aaron Chavarria have enhanced the menu at the popular Village restaurant. Chef Chavarria’s food specializes in “resort style, sustainable, farm-to-table dishes. The new menu items have been a hit, as posted on SRQ Daily in September.

The posting went on to say; The Daily Chef’s Oyster Special, which features rotating oyster varieties with fresh shaved horseradish and a house made Bloody Mary Granita, and appetizers like the Ceviche Duo with Florida Whitefish and fresh shrimp. The Chili Crusted Tuna offers a zing of background heat a drizzle of local orange blossom honey and ginger. For the entrée course, a recommendation is the Caribbean Mariscada, which is full of sautéed seafood, crispy yucca, and plantains. The broth for the Mariscada is flavored with Siesta Key Rum. One of the daily dessert specials features a pineapple brioche with cinnamon ice cream, coconut and a homemade rich and tasty caramel sauce.

SKOB is one of the anchors to the Siesta Key Village. The restaurant features live music, with a layback tropical feel visitors are seeking. Escape to SKOB, located at 5238 Ocean Blvd in Siesta Key Village.


Volunteer Trolley Tour and Appreciation Dinner

The Siesta Key Visitor Center Volunteers are taking their annual Trolley tour of 6 accommodations Monday, October 26 Noon – 6:00pm on Siesta Key. The tour gives the accommodations a unique opportunity to showcase their property’s individual features for the volunteers to pass on to the thousands of tourists that call and come through Siesta Key Visitor Center each year. Following the tour the volunteers will be treated to dinner. The tour and dinner is sponsored by the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce


Volunteers Needed

The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce is seeking volunteers in their Visitor Center.  As a volunteer you will have fun helping visitor’s find accommodations, places to shop, eat and attractions.  It’s a great place to become active and involved in the Siesta Key community, whether you’re a full-time or seasonal resident.  Volunteers also have the opportunity to attend Chamber networking and special events.  Must be familiar with the local area, some computer knowledge, and the ability to handle a busy environment!  Please contact, Mia Leone, Visitor Center & Volunteer Manager at 941-349-3800 or by stopping by the Chamber office at 5114 Ocean Boulevard.


Beach cleanup results

The 2015 International Coastal Cleanup took place on Saturday, September 19, with approximately 40 locations in Sarasota County being cleaned by volunteers.  As in the past, Siesta Key Association (SKA) partnered with Keep Sarasota County Beautiful and helped pick up trash on Siesta Key Beach from Point o’ Rocks to Beach Access 2, including the Beach Accesses parking lots. Beach access #1 was also cleaned along with the adjoining parking lot.  The 29 volunteers collected 18 (15 lb.) bags of garbage and 2 (20 lb.) bags of recyclables. 

According to Michael Shay, president of SKA and Coastal Cleanup organizer for SKA, “The beach was actually cleaner than in past times. However, the beach access parking lots were a bit dirty.” 


Talking about Trash on the beach

Siesta Key Association (SKA) members and visitors continuously complain about the amount of trash left behind by beach goers. There is a constant request for more trash cans to be placed at and on the beach.

Michael Shay, President of the SKA reached out to Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Director, Carolyn Brown, in an email regarding the complaints.

According to Brown, there are several good reasons why the trash cans are placed far from the open beach areas and water, and placed near beach access points.

In Brown’s emailed response to Shay, she stated, “I have reviewed your email regarding trash on our beaches and asked staff to provide some information. Here are several bullet points that reflect the county’s efforts to manage litter and trash on the public beach in a safe and efficient manner:

• The multitude of cans on the open beach is an eyesore, in spite of the number of cans they were often overflowing and thus even more of an eyesore.

• Trash cans and their associated litter provide food for opportunistic wildlife, throwing wildlife populations out of balance that can impact protected wildlife.

• The county’s deployment of trash cans is limited to county-owned or managed lands and is therefore limited to the public beach and beach access points.

• The need to empty trash cans on a regular basis required utility vehicles on the beach at times when the beach was filled with beachgoers which could be a safety issue.

• State wildlife agencies and local Audubon representatives were asking us to minimize use of utility vehicles on the beach due to the impact on beach nesting birds. Trash cans on the beach also are contraindicated by the Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance, necessitating their removal from the open beach during the nesting season.

• Each summer, tropical storm events required staff to haul the cans off the beach multiple times per season to avoid loss.

The county continues to use a beach rake to clean and groom Siesta Beach.   The wrack line is left alone to provide foraging for wildlife.  

Staff will continue to monitor and evaluate trash and recycling management at all of the beaches and parks and are prepared to make changes as necessary.”


Big Pass dredging renourishment project update

At the beginning of September, the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) responded to the questions the Florida of Environmental Protection (FDEP) sent to the ACOE months ago. The ACOE responded with no adverse impacts to the coastal system, ensuring protection to the turtles and seagrass. FDEP should respond by early October to the ACOE’s application and determine if it is complete. If they determine the application is complete they will have 90 days to take action to refuse or issue the joint coastal permit to the City of Sarasota and the ACOE.

As groups opposed to the dredging sit back and wait. Sarasota County is also waiting for Atkins North America Inc. which is doing a peer review hired by the county for $49,000. The draft for the review should come in sometime in October.

One of the biggest items the opposing groups are seeking is an Environmental Impact Statement. Only time will tell if an EIS will be requested by either the FDEP or the County. If not, it will be requested in Court by the opposition.

At the September SKA meeting Catherine Luckner, VP of SKA said, “There are procedures, there’s due process and there are legal remedies along the way.”  If legal action should be warranted, the City of Sarasota would be the entity sued since it requested the permit.” Luckner believes there is plenty of time before legal action is needed, if at all.


New members join Siesta Key Chamber

The Siesta Key community would like to welcome eleven businesses to the Siesta Key Chamber Of Commerce. The following businesses joined the chamber in the month of August: Sarasota Jungle Gardens, True Real Estate LLC, Go Fish Siesta, Barefoot Caribbean Grill, SRQ Senior Fitness, Suncoast Destination Guide, Bolt Insurance, JoAnn Milivojevic, Morton’s Siesta Market, Siesta Key Seaplanes and Siesta Key Delivery.