By Bob Stein
Commission OK’s concrete shade structures
Some additional changes are coming to Siesta Public Beach. On Nov. 10, the Sarasota County Commission approved a Gulf setback variance allowing construction of a new sidewalk and replacement of wood shelters with eight concrete shade structures at Siesta Key Public Beach.
The eight structures are in addition to the concrete picnic structures installed recently throughout the park.
The vote came amid opposition from some nearby residents who voiced concerns that the amenities would bring an increase in problems reported by residents living in nearby condos. The vote was 4-0, and it clears the way for the county to replace the eight wood “two-pole” structures on the west end (also commonly referred to as the north end) of the park. The eight wood structures will be replaced with the new, pre-cast concrete picnic structures recently installed elsewhere throughout the park. The concrete shelters — inspired by the Sarasota School of Architecture — were recognized by the Florida chapter of the American Institute of Architects as the winner of the Merit Award for an Object design.
Unit owners at Sunset Royale and Crescent Royale voiced concerns about the new, larger shelters and a wedding pavilion, contending that these new structures could exacerbate problems such as noise and people using landscaping as a bathroom. Commissioners also addressed concerns about the lack of parking restrictions on Beach Road.
Beach Road allows for parking 24/7 with no restrictions on time. Lt. Kasper from the sheriff’s department was present and explained to the BCC that as long as the vehicle is parked within the parking lines, it’s legal.
Commissioner Maio raised concerns at the meeting. “It appears to be an easy solution; however, placing restrictions on the Beach parking can solve one problem but create another” he stated. The public beach parking lot is closed at night, without the Beach Rd street parking residents that want to walk the beach early in the morning have nowhere to park. This is compounded even more with numerous SKA residents that walk the beach daily cleaning up the beach in the early morning helping the county at no cost.
The board suggested taking the issue up with residential and business groups on the Key and considering proposing some changes to the county’s Traffic Advisory Council.
Contractor selected for Turtle Beach Renourishment
Sarasota County last month secured a contractor for the South Siesta Renourishment. The county received one qualifying contractor bid for the project. Weeks Marine submitted the $18.1 million bid, which came in very close to the county’s most-recent estimate for the project, Sarasota County Spokesman Jason Bartolone told Siesta Sand.
The long-planned renourishment, which includes Turtle Beach, is on track to start in mid-January. Officials say the work should be completed by April, before the start of the sea turtle nesting season.
The County Commission still had, as of press time, to give final approval of the contractor selection. The project will add 800,000 cubic yards of sand to two miles of beach. It will buffer the eroded shoreline that was initially nourished with a million cubic yards of sand in 2007.
Weeks Marine’s bid price did come in lower than an earlier county figure of $21.5 million estimated at a time of increased demand for dredging equipment and contractors following storms.
The county has secured all final permits, including a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The final federal permit was issued following a lengthy delay due to unanticipated issues regarding a listed species. The potential stopover of the Rufa Red Knot during migration delayed the permitting process, and since spring the county had also been working to put specific safeguards in place to protect both the Red Knot and Loggerhead sea turtles. Read the entire process that Laird Wreford from the county presented at the Siesta Key Association meeting .
New Executive Director for the Siesta Key Chamber
The following email was sent out to all the members and volunteers in early November by Board Chair Alana Tomasso. On behalf of the Board of Directors, it is with great pleasure that I announce that after an extensive search we have a new Executive Director! Her name is Ann Frescura and her employment will begin the first week of January. Ann is coming to us from Springfield, Illinois and has extensive experience in non-profit and event management. We are very excited that she will be joining us and we look forward to introducing her to all of you. Thank you for your continued support…we are really excited about starting a new chapter for the Chamber!
Scat makes changes to Pinecraft Route
On November 14, the Sarasota County made some route changes affecting Siesta Key. Route 10 will operate between Cattlemen Transfer Station and Turtle Beach, replacing the old Route 33. For more information about any of these route changes, log on to www.scgov.net/scat or call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.
Help Spread Holiday Cheer for Cancer Kids
Founder of The Holiday Cheer for Cancer Kids program, Henry Rhodes continues to look for participants. According to Rhodes, “This year’s program has gotten off to an excellent start. Thanks to Bob and Emy Stein, publishers of The Eagle and Siesta Sands community papers, word is spreading about this important program designed to bring happiness to cancer kids of Sarasota families during the coming Holiday Season.”
He continued, “As of November 16, we have received family information for about thirteen families from All Children’s Hospital of St. Petersburg. We expect to receive information for approximately seven to 10 additional families by publication date. Volunteers have contacted us from Siesta Key and the Landings communities. It is truly wonderful to recognize how generous people can be especially during this season of the year.”
The families include children as young as two years old and as old as 19. Imagine being two-years-old and not really understanding what is happening to you, or perhaps even more challenging to be a teenager, feeling left out, different and disconnected at a time when connection and belonging is all you want.
If you would like to participate in this year’s program please contact Henry Rhodes (941-927-1047 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jim Goldman (email@example.com) or one of our two Program Captains, Carmen Lawrence (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Karl Maggard (email@example.com). The more volunteers there are willing to adopt a family, the more families in these circumstances this program is able to support during the holiday season. For additional information please call the above number. Any and all donations are very much appreciated.
Where’s Blue Que?
For all you returning snowbirds wondering what happened to the Blue Que Restaurant in the Village, changes were made in late October. Owner Matt Dively decided to make some changes bringing in a new chef and going to a new menu, featuring seafood. The new name of the restaurant is Aaron’s Fish Camp featuring 32 new menu items.
Nora Patterson holds first fundraiser
Nora Patterson, Republican held her first fundraiser on Nov. 18 for her State Senate campaign for District 28. Steve Seidensticker and family hosted the fundraiser, along with a host committee of more than 85 area residents.
The fundraiser took place in downtown Sarasota, featuring prominent community leaders such as State Senator Lisa Carlton, Dr. Duncan Finlay and State Senator John McKay, showing the strong support Patterson has established going into this race. Having lived, worked and raised a family for 45 years in Sarasota, Patterson draws a wide base of support across the district. Although redistricting of the Senate districts remains an issue for this race, Patterson remains optimistic that Sarasota will remain whole. If she is unable to run in her election due to redistricting, she’s committed to returning her donor contributions.
Nora Patterson has called Sarasota home since 1970. She served on the Sarasota County Commission for 16 years, and served for eight years on the Sarasota City Commission, including a term as Sarasota Mayor. If elected to the Florida Senate, she will continue to work for a healthy and diverse economy and careful use of taxpayer dollars. To learn more, visit www.norapatterson.com or call the campaign at (941) 210-9991.
Holiday Shipping Tips from Mail Pack Center of Siesta Key
The holiday season kicks off on Black Friday, November 27. One of the first things to avoid is the rush and ship as early as possible. Believe it or not, there are only 22 regular delivery days before Christmas, following Thanksgiving.
When you are ready to ship, there are some basic packing tips that are worth repeating.
First, don’t use old boxes or gift boxes for shipping. More than likely, they’re not going to provide adequate protection for your product. Whenever possible, use a new box. Also, only use approved packing materials like foam packing peanuts, bubble cushioning, and packing tape. Steer clear of the masking tape, the twine, and newspaper to cushion your items. Also, a good tip is to include a label on the inside of the package, including both the destination and the return address, just in case the label on the outside is somehow damaged. The Mail Pack Center has been helping to pack and ship items for island residents and visitors for 19 seasons. Let them help you again! Visit Jack and Hanna at Mail Pack Center for best service or any questions you have about shipping packages. MPCSK 6547 Midnight Pass Rd Siesta Key 941-346-3303.
Looking for the Village Barber?
As snowbirds begin to return to Siesta Key many are wondering what happened to the Village Barber? Back in July Scott Reich announced moving out of the Village and off the Key. Reich and his stepfather Pete Sparks had been servicing patrons in the Village for the past 20 years. The Siesta Center was sold and the new ownership of the Ocean Blvd building was not quite meeting up to expectations he and Sparks had of the new landlord. Sparks announced his retirement and Reich announced a move to The Shop SRQ at 6625 Gateway Ave. in Gulf Gate. You can reach Scott Reich at 941-346-0222.
SKA needs board members
The Siesta Key Association has a rich tradition of representing and proactively lobbying for the rights of the citizens of Siesta Key and it is becoming ever more critical to have an active body that represents the interest of all property owners on Siesta Key.
SKA needs board members who can actively participate in subcommittees which work closely with the County to beautify our island, look after the environment and ensure that zoning laws are followed, so that we can look forward to maintaining the essence of Siesta Key which is so important to all of us. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to become a board member.
If you don't have the time to participate in subcommittees, you can learn more about what is happening in your community and contribute your ideas by attending any of the monthly SKA Board Meetings. Become a SKA member for only $30 a year. SKA is the closest thing to an island government.