Siesta Key Round Up

| December 1, 2017

Staff Report

A bit of an ‘oops’ regarding a dock license agreement

The request was listed on the Sept. 26 County Commission Consent Agenda of routine business items under a Planning and Development Services Department heading. And thanks to a unanimous vote of the board approving most of the Consent Agenda — including that item — a couple will be able to build a private dock with a single mooring area off Canal Road.

What was different about this matter, a county staff memo explained, was the series of events leading up to the vote.

The owners of the property at 348 Canal Road — Marko and Kelli Radosavljevic — had sought the dock license agreement so they could construct their dock within the Canal Road right of way “along the canal shoreline on the opposite side of the roadway” associated with their property. The memo pointed out, “Chapter 74 of the County Code prohibits the construction of docks or other private structures within public right-of-way, except as specifically authorized by the County Commission …”

The Radosavljevics also had submitted a permit application for the new dock, the memo noted. (Approval of the dock license agreement would be required prior to approval of the permit, the memo said.)

Staff recommended the board approve the dock license agreement, the memo added. As it turned out, the memo continued, the County Commission on April 25 inadvertently had approved such an agreement for the prior owner of the property, who had sold 348 Canal Road to the Radosavljevics on April 7. Even though the sale took place before the commission vote, it came after preparation of documents for the board’s April 25 agenda, the memo pointed out. “Staff was not informed of the sale of the property,” the memo added, “and it was discovered after the Board approved the Agreement. Therefore, the Dock License Agreement was not correctly established with the owner of the property and is legally non-transferable.”

That was why staff had prepared a revised dock license agreement for the Radosavljevics, so they could construct the dock in the same location proposed by the previous owner, Stacey James.

The memo did note that the County Commission has approved “several similar dock license agreements for nearby properties since 2011.” Should the board approve this one, the memo continued, staff would proceed with the review of the permit application “and ensure the dock design and construction meets all requirements in the [Water and Navigation Control Authority] Ordinance.”

SKOB burglary suspect arrested

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man on Oct. 25 in connection with the burglary of the Siesta Key Oyster Bar, the office reported.

Danny Limongelli, 51, of 8600 Culebra Ave., North Port, was charged with Unarmed Burglary of an Unoccupied Structure, according to his Sarasota County Jail record. He was ordered held at the Sarasota County Jail on $1,500 bond.

Deputies responded to the Siesta Key Oyster Bar (SKOB) — which is located at 5238 block of Ocean Blvd. — just after 8 a.m. on Oct. 25 after receiving reports of a burglary that allegedly had occurred overnight, a news release said.

When the manager arrived that morning, the report noted, the manager discovered that someone had entered the business by ripping open a door on the patio that had been locked with a deadbolt. The action had caused the doorframe to fall to the ground, the report added.

The manager saw that dollar bills patrons sign and staple to the walls and ceiling in a decorative fashion were missing, the report said. The manager estimated the total they represented was $150, the report continued.

After deputies obtained surveillance video from the restaurant, one of them was able to identify the suspect as Limongelli. That was because the deputy had had previous encounters with Limongelli, the report pointed out. Deputies also determined that the alleged burglary took place about 2:30 a.m. that day.

As Limongelli was known to frequent the Gulf Gate area, the news release said, deputies contacted people at several businesses in that area to advise them to be on the lookout for the signed dollar bills.

Just before 4 p.m. on Oct. 25, “thanks to the vigilance of a Publix employee,” the release added, deputies learned that Limongelli was in the Bealls Outlet at 6555 S. Tamiami Trail; he reportedly was attempting to use the bills from SKOB to pay for merchandise. He also allegedly still had numerous dollar bills from SKOB in his pockets at the time of his arrest, the report noted. Deputies identified the bills by the writing and signatures on them, the report said.

He was arrested at the outlet, the report noted.

Limongelli has three previous arrests since October 2016, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Corrections records show. On Oct. 27, 2016, he was charged with larceny involving at least $300 but less than $5,000, records say. He was released on Dec. 19, 2016 after serving time for that crime.

On Dec. 29, 2016, he was arrested near Whole Foods on First Street in downtown Sarasota and charged with petit larceny, first offense. This summer, he was charged with possession of not more than 20 grams of marijuana and with violation of probation on the petit larceny charge, the Corrections records say.

Earlier arrest records note Limongelli has a disability and is unemployed.

Early planning for Ol’ Times Church Festival

The Rev. Michael Cannon, the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church on Siesta Key, has announced that the parish family will hold its second Ol’ Times Church Festival the weekend of Friday, Jan. 26, and Saturday, Jan, 27, 2018.

The event will take place in the Parish Hall and on the grounds of the church, which is located at 5394 Midnight Pass Road.

This family-oriented festival will kick off at 6 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2018 in the Church Hall with an old-fashioned live auction, a news release says. Roy Baker, a parishioner who also is an auctioneer, will conduct that event. Anyone wishing to donate an item to the auction or anyone who would like additional information about it may contact Baker at jiggsbeer@aol.com., the release notes.

As the auction date draws closer, a list of the many items that will be available will be found on the church’s website, www.stmichaelssiesta.com, the release adds. A person will be able to click on the “Festival” menu button for the details.

Cash or a check — with appropriate identification — will be required for payment on the night of the auction, the release points out.

The festivities on Jan. 27 will take place from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the release continues. They will include food, crafts, music, games, raffles and other activities for all ages, the release says. 

“This event is open to all,” the release notes. The proceeds will go to St. Michael’s support of the Catholic Faith Appeal and its many charitable outreach programs, the release explains.

A parish committee has been meeting for several months to plan the event, the release says. Long-time parishioners Jack and Therese Swiatkowski are the chairs. “With the help of many other parishioners,” the release adds, “various [other] committees have been formed and the plans for this special event are well underway.” 

The primary planning committee is looking for volunteers and sponsors, as well as food vendors and local craftspeople and artisans who would like to participate in the festival. Those who are interested are asked to email theresejack.sw@gmail.com.

Wastewater treatment plant work lagging a bit

It appears that it will be January 2018 before Sarasota County finishes the work on the new master pump station that is replacing the Siesta Key Wastewater Treatment Plant, Robert Luckner, a member of the SKA’s Environmental Committee, announced during the November SKA meeting.

The pump station was about 85% complete as of Nov. 2, Luckner reported, based on his communications that day with the county project manager, Jack Gibson. However, Gibson informed Luckner that the county’s Public Utilities Department had requested additional piping work at the site; that would delay the completion timeline beyond the original deadline, which was the end of this year.

“They lost about three weeks with the hurricane and the power outage,” Luckner pointed out. A new sewer pipeline has been run from the mainland, under the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), to the plant, so effluent can be treated on the mainland, Luckner explained.

The repaving of Shadow Lawn Way and Shadow Lawn Drive, down which the pipeline has been installed, was set to start Nov. 9, Luckner added.

The only problem reported in Siesta Isles, Luckner continued, was that the electrical connection and irrigation equipment in the median on Shadow Lawn Way were damaged because the crew that checked for utility lines found no traditional markers for them in advance of the project. The contractor would reconnect the electricity, he added, and the company would work with the homeowners’ association to ensure the irrigation equipment was repaired.

The Siesta Isles Association won a Sarasota County Neighborhood Grant Initiative Program award in 2015 that enabled it to undertake the beautification work on that median.

The entire buried pipeline in Siesta Isles had been pressure-tested, Luckner noted. The master pump station testing would take place in phases, Gibson told Luckner, with most of the work scheduled in December and early January.

The very last phase of the project, Luckner pointed out, will be the decommissioning of the wastewater treatment facilities on the plant site, with the termination of treated wastewater outfall to the Grand Canal. All the old tanks will be cleaned out, he added.

In response to a question, Luckner said county leaders have not decided yet what to do with the property after all the work has been completed. One consideration, he continued, will be the underground pipes. “It’s better not to dig down and find out what’s there,” he joked, referring to infrastructure that could date back to the early days of the Siesta Key Utility Authority (SKUA). The county took ownership of the plant in 2006.

Still, Luckner said, “I think it could easily be some type of park facility.”

More on the continuing the fight to preserve Big Pass

During the November SKA meeting, Vice President Catherine Luckner provided a brief summary of activities over the past 12 months as the organization has continued its efforts to prevent the dredging of Big Sarasota Pass to renourish a 1.6-mile stretch of South Lido Key.

It was almost exactly a year ago, she told the approximately 60 audience members, that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) held an open house in Sarasota to allow the public to ask questions and offer formal comments about the proposed project of the City of Sarasota and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

“I heard from many people that it wasn’t as satisfactory as they would have liked,” she added of that session.

Various state agencies that had had a part in FDEP’s permit application review had personnel present, along with representatives of FDEP and the USACE.

At least it was a good opportunity for the SKA directors to put faces to the names of people with whom they had been corresponding, Luckner said.

After FDEP on Dec. 22, 2016 released its Notice of Intent to issue the permit for the project to the city and the USACE, she continued, a number of people told her they believed the open house was just pro forma.

“That was disappointing,” Luckner said of the FDEP decision, which the SKA, Save Our Siesta Sand 2 and the Florida Wildlife Federation have challenged. She had felt that, given all the research the SKA had undertaken to show flaws in the USACE modeling for the project, FDEP would realize that it should make the federal agency redesign its plans. “Maybe that’s my Pollyanna [approach] to many things,” Luckner conceded.

As the SKA prepared for both a December Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) challenge of the FDEP action, as well as a 12th Judicial Circuit Court case — if necessary — Luckner said the nonprofit’s attorney ended up waiving $23,000 in legal fees in midsummer. The Tallahassee firm of Hopping Green & Sams had exceeded the cap the SKA had set for what it could spend, she explained. “They actually reduced their hourly fees for us.”

The $23,000, she pointed out, was only half of what the SKA would have owed the firm for one month.

New amenities for the Village

By mid-November, a new decorative bench and trash receptacle were expected in Siesta Village, Lisa Cece, the special district coordinator for Sarasota County, reported.

The bench was to be installed in front of Siesta Kids, she wrote in an email, and the trash receptacle replacement would be at intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Calle Miramar. “Recently, a new decorative bench was installed in front of the Village Café,” she noted, “and a new decorative trash receptacle [was placed] in front of Daiquiri Deck, along with [a] brand new blue glass and bottle recycling container.”

“More will be planned this year to keep the Village in a resort like setting,” she added.

Correction

A reader pointed out that an item in the November issue of Siesta Sand had the wrong address for a Beach Road house.

The report was about a new initiative among Key residents to fight a petition, submitted to Sarasota County in late spring, seeking a Coastal Setback Variance for construction completely seaward of the county’s Gulf Beach Setback Line.

The plans call for a three-story house and pool west of the house at 654 Beach Road. The petitioner, Saba Sands II, wants to use Beach Access 10 as the means of entry to the property.

The principal of Saba Sands II is attorney William A. Saba of Sarasota.

We apologize for the confusion about the house number.

Coast Guard reducing number of daily openings on Siesta drawbridges

Early on the morning of Sept. 6, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it will indeed be reducing the number of openings of the north Siesta Key drawbridge and the Stickney Point Road drawbridge from three times an hour to twice an hour.

The change went into effect on Oct. 5, with the new rule to be in effect year-round.

The Stickney Point Road Bridge and the Siesta Drive Bridge shall open on signal, except that from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, will open on the hour and on the half-hour between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily.

Getting rid of the storm debris

Just a day before the Nov. 10 beginning of the annual Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival, email “chatter” circulated among Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. representatives about all the debris from Hurricane Irma that remained piled up along Ocean Boulevard and other Key streets.

On the morning of Nov. 9, all of the storm debris had been picked up on Ocean Boulevard except the towering pile at the entrance to the Sandy Cove condominium complex, just north of Siesta Village.

In response to a newspaper query about the situation, county Media Relations Officer Drew Winchester wrote in a Nov. 9 email, “Staff isn’t certain that the contractor will finish the entire [Key] by Friday, but they are working actively to remove debris and are in compliance with the contract specifications. They were also working on roads near Siesta Key Beach [on Nov. 8].”

Reports the newspaper received from island residents on Saturday, Nov. 11, confirmed that the storm debris was all gone, even the piles at Sandy Cove.

“It took ’em long enough,” Sandy Cove resident Joe Tinney said. Nonetheless, he added, “The county did a wonderful job of cleaning everything up.”

A Nov. 9 county email blast regarding a variety of topics pointed out, “This week 1,804 loads of debris, totaling 49,911 cubic yards, were picked up, which equates to approximately 20 percent of the total debris.” The e-blast added, “An average of 71 debris collection trucks per day worked throughout the county this past week.”

After cleanup efforts began wrapping up in Texas — where contractors dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey — more contractors began arriving in Sarasota County, Rich Collins, the county’s emergency services director, reported to County Administrator Tom Harmer in October.

A check of the county’s interactive storm debris collection map on Nov.10 showed the latest date projected for crews to arrive in any part of the county was Nov. 20. The map noted that work began on the county’s part of Siesta Key on Oct. 23. Crews from the City of Sarasota already had picked up debris on the city’s part of the island during the city’s first pass.

New partner program offered by Siesta Key Fitness Center

For a small weekly fee, hotels, condos, resorts, property management companies, and Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) listings may partner with Siesta Key Fitness Center, providing guests with a 50% discount on visitor passes. Property owners and managers are then free to advertise that they are listing partners with the only gym on the island, giving renters that valuable 50% discount.

The fitness-minded consumer does not expect free, he just wants to know that a facility is nearby and available at a reasonable cost. Offering discounted fitness serves to attract and retain more bookings.

The cost is surprisingly small.  The average price of a weekly stay on Siesta Key is approximately $1,600.  Based on the volume of units an owner or manager puts on the program, the cost of this program ranges from $3.75 to $5.75 per week per unit. As Bruce Day, owner of the center points out, if a property owner invests only $5.75 per week ($299 annually), and secures only one new booking a year as a result, the ROI is a staggering 542% – and that is from gaining only one new customer per year.

There is another substantial benefit for property owners. In addition to being able to advertise that they offer fitness on their own websites, all SKF partners receive both a listing and a link on   www.SiestaKeyFitness.com.  The website receives over 75,000 unique visits annually, visits coming from folks looking for fitness options on the island.

The partner fee should therefore be considered part of the property’s Advertising Budget, not part of their Amenity Budget. This small expenditure puts the property in front of thousands of fitness minded consumers who make buying decisions based on fitness availability and access.

People want fitness: it’s important. If your accommodation does not have fitness, Siesta Key Fitness does. Located at 5243 Avenida Navarra (in the Village directly behind the Daiquiri Deck) SKF offers staffed hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. (Annual members have 24-hour access.)

Signing up for an Accommodations Partnership is both simple and quick! Call 941.349.8500 for more information.

The Siesta Beach Seafood & Music Festival returns to Siesta Key

Come share in the festivities of the 2nd Annual Siesta Beach Seafood & Music Festival on December 2-3, at America’s #1 rated beach – Siesta Beach.  Bring family and friends to enjoy freshly-cooked seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes while relaxing to outstanding live musical performances. Hours are 10 am – 6 pm both Saturday and Sunday.  General admission to the event and musical performances is free! 

A VIP Tent is also available with an admission of $130 that includes:  an open raw bar serving oysters, shrimp and crab legs, an open bar serving premium drinks and a tented seating area with linens on the tables. Hours 10 am – 6 pm both days.  Come and enjoy the offerings!

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