By Stan Zimmerman
Golf carts creep closer to M-Pass Road
Sarasota County Commissioners decided to hold at least one public meeting to allow up-graded golf carts to operate along a portion of Midnight Pass Road. The carts are called “low-speed vehicles” and have turn signals, a horn, stop lights and seat belts. They are limited to 25 miles per hour.
Residents in and around Sanderling Drive on the southern end of Midnight Pass Road would like the speed limit cut to 35 mph from the current 40 mph. State law bans low-speed vehicles from roads with speed limits higher than 35 mph.
The Sanderling-area residents would like to drive up to the commercial center at Stickney Point, which has a variety of stores and restaurants. Commissioner Nora Patterson has been pestering the Florida Department of Transportation to cut speed limits on Siesta Key, but before she realized the 35 mph limit opened the road to upgraded golf carts.
Commissioners agreed to propose a resolution cutting the speed limit to 35 mph between Sanderling Drive and Vista Hermosa Circle where the speed limit drops to 25 along Midnight Pass Road. However the resolution bans low-speed vehicles unless the commission changes its mind after the to-be-scheduled public meeting.
Meanwhile in Siesta Village where the limit is 20mph, low-speed vehicles are becoming a common sight along Ocean Boulevard.
Lights, Action, Crosswalk!
Sarasota County Commissioners finally approved illumination of Siesta Village crosswalks. It’s taken months, and several people have been hit in the crosswalks.
The $72,000 estimate is less than a $118,00 bid received earlier this year, but more than double the original county estimate of $31,500. The county will buy lighting equipment directly from the manufacturer and use an existing county contract with a company for installation.
The lighted bollards will be installed at seven Siesta Village crosswalks.
Swift gets beach project jeffe job
Sarasota-based Swift Construction received a $103,899 contract to serve as the “construction manager at risk” for the Siesta Public Beach Park improvements project.
The project’s price over the past couple of years has soared, and is now capped at $16.7 million for building costs. Swift’s job is to cut financial corners at every possible instance to keep the project from going into over-runs.
Swift will handle “design coordination and constructability reviews, refinement of the schedule and preparation of a guaranteed minimum price agreement for the work.”
Everything has a price
Siesta’s parking problems are perennial. And not just during season. Holidays like Easter also bring a glut of automobiles. One Avenida del Mare decided to turn lemons into lemonade by posting a sign offering to sell parking in the yard for $20.
Alas that’s illegal under county ordinance, unlike Manatee County where residents of Cortez regularly sell space on theirs for special events. On Siesta the county code enforcement officers have been instructing the would-be parking barons of their code violations.
While the parking problems should ease over the summer, expect them to ramp back up as season approaches. Then look for discrete lawn signs along the “avenidas” near the village if its parking you seek.
In the meantime, don’t drop off your child to save a space in the Siesta Beach parking lot while you circle ‘round. That’s now worth a $97 fine for blocking access to a vacant spot. Definitely a piggy-bank buster fine.
Public and private
Florida law says the beach is public property up to the high-tide line. Beachfront owners believe the whole thing is private. But when Mother Nature tosses a fish kill ashore, those public-private property lines somehow get ignored.
Last summer it was a wash-up of Red Drift Algae along Crescent Beach that caused a stir. Last December it was a fish kill off Blind Pass Beach chased by red tide. It all cases it’s not pleasant for the nose or the eyes. But can Sarasota County legally clean up the mess on private property?
The 1995 ordinance needed clarification, county commissioners were told to determine what areas of the beach were “public.” A discussion ensued, and commissioners agreed they’d spend taxpayer money to clean up private beaches if a couple of conditions were met.
The private beach would need to be “in close proximity” to a county-owned beach or beach access. The area was between the high-tide line but seaward of “any pronounced escarpment, dune, vegetated area, access bridge or stairs or shore protection structure such as a revetment or seawall….”
And the owners or their designated representatives of the private beachfront property would need to give written permission to the county acknowledging “the history customary use of the beach or access by the public.”
In other words, the government will clean it up but the public gets to use your beach.