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Editorial Letters – Week ending May 1, 2020

Longboat Key News encourages Letters to the Editor on timely issues. Please email to: letters@lbknews.com or mail to PO Box 8001, Longboat Key, FL 34228. We also print letters sent to Longboat Key Town Hall that address Longboat Key issues as well as Sarasota City Hall that address Sarasota issues. We reserve the right to edit.

Roundabout is not the answer

To: Editor

I have driven on rotaries (roundabouts) most of my life in Massachusetts and I know they take skillful driving and split-second decision-making skills. Sarasota is filled with tourists and elderly people, a population which cannot navigate such difficulties. I drive around ST. Armand’s Circle daily and expect that the car ahead of me will come to a full stop before it decides that it might move slowly forward. I curse because I already have my light blinking and know exactly how I will keep moving. And then a car with no warning cuts in front of me to go to Lido. I have learned to look for these cars which will cut in front of me but the stranger in town has no idea what is going on. So he stops again. It is a jerky and slow ride. But I am a citizen of this area for 20 years now. My visitors have no such experience. My daughter from Canada had the experience of her life when she faced a car going the wrong way on St. Armands Circle.

People say that the little roundabouts in Sarasota keep cars moving. They do because there is little traffic. They actually slow down traffic and keep it moving once people know how to use then. But this huge intersection where four major roads meet will be slowed down so much that we need to forget trying to get off Longboat Key if the traffic is high. And the accidents will be many. Although the crazy shifting and adding of new lanes which is being tried now causes confusion, because no one knows which lane they are supposed to be in if they want to turn, I have seen only one accident. But you wait forever as the lights get longer and longer.

And I have heard that Sarasota is planning to add people on foot to this confusion. No, no. There is no room for people with befuddled drivers all trying to figure out where they should be driving next. We’ll all be too busy with our eyes on the car ahead to notice people.

The only solution to this terrible intersection which is always blocked is to go up and get the traffic to driver over the mess below. This is what Boston had to do and I see it as the only solution for the situation we are in. Everyone in Sarasota and Longboat Key I talk to is angry and frustrated at what our towns (all of them: Sarasota, Longboat Key and Anna Maria) have done by allowing over-development. They have sold themselves to developers and forgot those residents who have to stay home while tourists are everywhere. The headlines in the newspaper congratulate Sarasota for the millions more homes being built, the much higher number of tourists every year, and our higher population. While the readers sit and growl. We are the residents who make this town the artistic center it is and our needs and desires are ignored. And we are angry.

Anne Arsenault

Longboat Key

 

Modeling is unscientific

To: Editor

The Center for Disease Control relies on “modeling” to make their projections about he coronavirus and that’s why you can’t trust anything they say. Modeling is guesswork, it’s not based on people’s assumptions, it’s not empirically based. That’s why when Dr. Fauci said that 2.2 million Americans could get the coronavirus he was guessing. That’s why when he said between 100,000-240,000 might be killed he was guessing. And that’s why when Dr. Birx warned us that if we didn’t take her social distancing guidelines (that includes closing schools, banning large gatherings, limiting travel and forcing people to stay in their homes) seriously, the death rate could be much higher. These people are lousy guessers and excellent liars. Does it rise to the level of treason?

The following references will further elucidate the nefarious activities of Drs. Fauci and Birx:

• NYTimes.com  March 31, 2020. Coronavirus may kill 100,000-240,000 in U.S. despite actions; Officials say by Michael Shear et al.

• Effectiveness of Work Place social distancing measures in reducing influenza transmission. A systematic review by F. Ahmed. BMC Public Health 2018.

• CDC/Corona Disease 2019 (COVID-19) last updated April 24, 2020.

• CDC/Why forecasting COVID-19 deaths in U.S. is critical.

Mona Schonbrunn

Longboat Key

 

Village Life and Safety Issues

To: Editor

Thanks for your continuing and comprehensive coverage of the life, safety and quality of life issues created in the Village by the improperly checked expansion of the three restaurants on Broadway.

On April 17, your lead letter from Trevor Gillott reflected a number of misimpressions that justify correction.  First, Mr. Gillott states that Village residents bought homes in a “less desirable part of the Key” and “enjoyed buying at relatively low prices.”  In fact, virtually all Villagers purchased their homes because the Village is the most desirable part of the Key to them.  And, in fact, many Villagers paid relatively high prices for their wonderful homes.

Second, Mr. Gillott states that “the vast majority bought there whilst the restaurants have been operating.”  In fact, almost no current residents bought while the restaurants have been operating — because Whitney’s and Shore did not even exist until recently, and because the significant expansion of Mar Vista happened only slightly less recently.  Mr. Gillott appears unaware of the restaurant situation when almost all current Villagers purchased their homes; that is, no Whitney’s at all, no Shore at all, a Moore’s that had a fraction of the impact of Shore, and a much smaller Mar Vista.

Third, Mr. Gillott states that he is “galled” and “infuriated” that Villagers and the Town are working tirelessly (with, incidentally, the much-appreciated cooperation of the restaurants themselves) to address these pressing issues before a pedestrian, bicyclist or motorist is seriously injured or killed by an entirely transformed situation that results in over 1000 documented speeders per day, an endless choke of traffic in our formerly quiet, historic residential community (especially on weekends in season), and parking throughout the Village that results in blocked fire hydrants, blocked driveways and blocked sightlines.

If that multi-constituency, genuine, thoughtful effort by the individuals and organizations who Mr. Gillott calls “actionists” galls and infuriates Mr. Gillott, one can hardly imagine his level of gall and infuriation if a similar situation occurred in whatever “more desirable” part of the Key he inhabits.

Thanks again for your coverage of these important issues to our community.

Henry Smith

Longboat Key

 

Elkhorn Coral Project

To: Editor

What an amazing project Mote has tackled with very promising results!  As a former diver throughout the Caribbean many years ago, I still vividly recall the beauty of the extensive coral formations, now unfortunately, seriously diminished.

I wish them much luck in their ongoing efforts in restoring Elkhorn coral to our Florida coasts.

Patrick Hollis

Longboat Key

 

Mercker Op Ed

To: Editor

Mr. Mercker and I may share a common view of Sarasota Bay as we look out towards the high rise buildings on Longboat Key. However, I don’t share his views about the Corona Virus or the COVID -19 disease. His flippant attitude – people die each day no biggie – is dangerous for it suggests that Mother Nature must be allowed to take its toll -an angel of death that must be tolerated. Mr .Mercker cites other causes of death that takes a larger number of victims than does the Corona- Virus.

However, we don’t go gently into the night. We actually try to prevent death. We do require licenses and testing  and have regulations and penalties  and safety design standards for driving a lethal machine. We have hotlines for suicide prevention and therapists  and pastoral counseling. We take flu vaccines. We try to control guns and keep them out of the hands of those who would do themselves or others harm. Although we read about statistics on causes of death no one wants to be included in that statistic.

None of the causes of death cited are contagious. Fear of this virus arises from the possibility that we may infect or be infected by a virus however transported from human contact, through the air, the touch of infected surfaces  that can lead to death for you, your loved ones, your acquaintances or for innocent people who you don’t know. And even if you survive the horrible experience your health may be impaired for the rest of your life. No mere flu and no vaccine to protect you.

All the doctors and medical staff and first response teams and grocery clerks and police and EMS teams and garbage collectors and all essential workers are putting their lives at risk helping to save lives and to allow us to carry on the business of daily life and necessary services. The media reports and assesses what it is reporting. It cites statistics and raw numbers of cases and deaths due to the virus. Pandemics are not forecasts or planned events in their business model and revenue projections.

Go to an Intensive Care Unit at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and tell the medical staff to “focus on life”. I’m sure you’ll find that this is exactly what they are doing.

Larry Grossman

Sarasota Florida

 

Common Sense too Easy?

To: Editor

Does anyone know that you are at greater risk of lung problems and deathly virus outcomes when you breathe polluted air?  Increased pollution increases susceptibility to infections. A Harvard analysis showed a statistical link, revealing a large overlap between Covid-19 deaths and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to fine particulate matter. Why do people sit in cars with engines running, wasting gas and polluting air? or making sure their muscle cars have extra loud, polluting exhausts? It is against Florida law. Why are landscapers allowed to use highly polluting leaf blowers?  This pollution destroys the cilla in your lungs.  Without cilia, secretions from the lungs pile up, narrowing the airways and eventually restricting oxygen exchange.  Please be aware of your health and try to improve our environment and health at the same time.

Joanne Hummert

Longboat Key

 

Parking in Village is not a necessary privilege

To: Editor

I have been reading with interest the barrage of letters written on the parking/traffic issues on Broadway in the Village.  In my opinion the moniker, “Life and Safety”, that some of the Village use as their argument, is overstated.  We residents in LBK can say this is true throughout our parking and road systems.  We all want our areas to be free of any kind of potential hazards.  To me it is clear that the Town has already taken significant time and positive steps to alleviate the issues, namely, speed limit signage, parking lines and increased police presence.  And I think they are considering speed tables.  In the end, the people in the Village bought/settled there knowing full well that on Broadway there were three commercial properties.  Unfortunately, as in many commercial properties, things change over the years; right, wrong or indifferent.  As a taxpayer and resident of Longboat Key for 15 years, I would never be in favor of “resident only parking” in the Village.  It is not a necessary privilege.

Gary Ulrich

Longboat Key

 

Poles

To: Lynn Larson

Hope you are having a great week. I wanted to follow up on the lighting issue on Bogey. Looks like they are moving forward with moving the polls from the west to the east side of the street. Is that accurate? Just wondering what the latest was from the town.

Jorie Riesen

Longboat Key

 

Poles

To: Jorie Reisen

My answer to my neighbor is that we do not have any answers from the town. Mr. Carter and I have repeatedly asked for a consultant on lighting to plan the lights for a coordinated planned effort on this expensive project. The light coverage and safety at intersections is important. The lights should not just be spaced based on the point that a developer put one there more than 60 years ago. The number of lights will likely go down in many areas saving money on the total number of lights needed. We have repeatedly also asked that the lights on the west side of Bogey remain on the west side per owners requests. There has not been an answer to this request. The lack of communication remains a problem. The only way we know what is happening on the project is to see the results after the work has been performed

Lynn Larson

Longboat Key

 

Employee Recognition Lunch

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Commissioners, Thank you again for your support of the employees and their response during the COVID 19 Pandemic Emergency!

I wanted to update you on the Employee Recognition Lunch that was discussed at the last Commission Meeting.  All Commissioners have donated to the effort.  I have also contributed and we have one resident that also donated.  The total collected is $1,025.

We have been working with two local restaurants, the Blue Dolphin and Harry’s.

The restaurants prepared lunches for the police and fire shift workers starting yesterday and will do the same for today and tomorrow to catch all on -duty employees.  The lunch for Monday- Friday staff is scheduled for tomorrow Friday, May 1st.  The employees had a menu to choose from and the food is being picked up by Town staff and delivered to the various workplaces.  There is no group lunch due to the pandemic restrictions, but each employee working will be receiving the lunch of their choice.  We are also providing gift cards from those two restaurants for employees that are currently e-working. Thank again for helping recognize the efforts of the Longboat Key Team!

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Governor’s Executive Orders

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

I previously sent out the two new executive orders issued by the Governor last night.  EO-112 is the Phase 1 Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery EO 111 extends certain orders until Monday, May 4th.  EO 112  extends some of  the previous orders and modifies some of the restrictions as part of the recovery plan.  It still states that “all persons in Florida shall continue to limit their personal interactions outside the home” and goes on to reinforce certain restrictions related to vacation rentals, bars, and nightclubs, and personal services and starts to unwind some of the restrictions associated with certain services like restaurants and elective surgeries,  The Order does not pre-empt local government actions.  EO 112  goes into effect on Monday, May 4th and does not have an expiration date- it is expected that a Phase 2 order will follow but that timing has not been determined.    

Sarasota County did announce that they will be opening their beach parking and removing other restrictions regarding their beaches on Monday, May 4th.  They are also opening up some of their Park amenities as soon as this weekend.

Our beach access parking areas remained closed and the Town’s Emergency Orders will be updated tomorrow on actions through the next couple of weeks.    

I highlighted below the latest numbers from the Sarasota County Public Health Official and the State Website.  Again, these data points are from the numbers that they are providing daily to the County and the Municipalities and can be found on their website.

As of 2 p.m. today:

State of Florida

33,690 cases confirmed, 1268 deaths

(up from 33,193 cases confirmed, 1218 deaths)

Sarasota County

352 cases confirmed, 42 deaths

(up from 338 cases confirmed, 42 deaths)

Manatee County

580 cases confirmed, 55 deaths

(up from 567 cases confirmed, 49 deaths)

Sarasota County Heat Map Planning Tool

34228 – None (0)  within last 14 days within Sarasota County.  Cumulative positives- 13, includes non-residents

Longboat Key (from State Website)

State now posting cases by zip code. They are using ranges versus actual #’s. Their #’s only include residents.

34228   Manatee   < 5 cases confirmed positive

34228    Sarasota   < 5 cases confirmed positive

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Desantis Order

To: Longboat Key Commission

Yesterday, Governor DeSantis gave a presentation where he issued Executive Order 20-111 and Executive Order 20-112 and announced a gradual re-opening of Florida businesses beginning Monday, May 4. The plan is referred to as “Safe. Smart. Step-by-step.”

The guiding principles of the plan are Public Health and Safety, Health Care System Readiness, Protection of the Vulnerable, Economic Recovery, Protection of Civil Liberties & Maintaining Individual Rights, Public Confidence, and Partnership with Local Communities.

Governor DeSantis also provided Florida’s plan against COVID-19:

1. Protect the Vulnerable

2. Increase Testing

3. Promote Social Distancing

4. Support Hospitals and Protect Health Care Workers

5. Prevent Introduction from Outside of the State

Other topics covered in the presentation include examples of Facts v. Fear, State Gating Criteria, and further details relating to the numerical items above.

Virginia Haley

President

Visit Sarasota County

 

Association pools reopening meeting

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

I believe you are meeting May 4 to discuss a few issues relating to association pools.

We have a place in Fairway Bay and I would strongly support you recommending that if social distance can be maintained that they facilities be opened. It seems to me that people can be trusted to maintain these policies. Please confirm you have received this request.

David Rende

Longboat Key

 

Association pools reopening meeting

To: David Rende

Thanks for your email. We will have an update and discussion regarding the Town’s Covid-19 policies at Monday’s telephonic Town Commission meeting.  FYI, the Town’s current policy regarding amenities at the various condos and associations is that, subject to following CDC recommended protocols for social distancing, group size, etc., each group’s governing body has the authority to adopt reasonable rules of use.  I don’t envision any change in that policy, so you may wish to take up the pool issue with your Fairway Bay board.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Manatee County beaches reopening

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Commissioners, late yesterday Manatee County announced that they will be opening their public beaches on Monday May 4th with restrictions. Their restrictions include limiting the number of parking spaces and a two-hour limit.

As you are aware, Sarasota County opened their beaches earlier this week but kept parking closed and prohibited umbrellas, coolers, etc.

The City of Sarasota has kept Lido Beach closed to the public.

Obviously, our public beach access points/parking remain closed. When Sarasota County announced their opening we did receive calls from outside the area asking how they could access our beaches and where they could park. We will be closely monitoring the Manatee action to make sure we don’t have unintended impacts here on Longboat Key as they may have residents and visitors coming to theIr beaches and find that there is no parking and may come over the bridge to Longboat Key looking for parking and access to the beach.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Manatee County beaches reopening

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

With Manatee County opening public beaches next Monday and stating they will limit parking to 50 percent of their capacity on the public lots I can foresee a potential problem for the streets in the Village.  There has been parking taking place there for people to access the beach on the north end of Longboat Key and I am concerned that may be amplified with limited parking at Coquina.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Manatee County beaches reopening

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thank you Tom. As I mentioned to you, I have been extensively walking our beach every day and suggest we stay the course with respect to parking and spacing guidelines. My observations confirm that residents are responsibly complying.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

New emergency notification system

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

As part of a statewide initiative, the Town will be transitioning to a new emergency notification platform through Everbridge. This transition is in coordination with the State of Florida, Sarasota County, and other local municipalities to provide a more unified messaging system.  Everyone will be utilizing the same platform, yet each will still be responsible for sending their own emergency messaging. The new system is offered to all the municipalities and counties through the State of Florida at no cost for at least the first five years.

The new system locally will be known as “Alert Longboat Key.”

Sarasota County and the municipalities have been collaborating for a May 4th roll out.

During the early transition we will provide an overlap with our current provider (CodeRED). We plan to run both systems parallel so that staff is comfortable that the new system is fully operational and that residents have had the opportunity to register for Alert Longboat Key. There will be robust public outreach campaign in May geared to ensure residents, and businesses register in the new system.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Tourism update

To: Longboat Key Commission

You can imagine that leading Sarasota County’s tourism industry right now has been challenging and tough.  But even in this darkest of times for our industry, we are seeing some future positive signs.  My team has been very busy with scores of online programs to help promote local business and preparing for upcoming campaigns such as our ever-popular Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week, held during the first 2 weeks of June.  We have decided to convert to Savor To Go to promote the ever-growing number of restaurants offering carry-out and curbside dining. We will reschedule the dine-in Savor later in the year.

We are also working with our hotels and venues on quite a number of leads for future group meetings and sports events for later in 2020 and early 2021.  We have already booked some large meetings and are encouraged by this level of activity.

Finally we have partnered with our colleagues in Lee County on a consumer sentiment research study that we will conduct in a series of waves to gauge consumer interest in vacations and their new expectations of travel.  When the time is right, this will guide the targeting of our early marketing efforts to the right people with the right message.

And now the numbers for March 2020.  We saw very strong numbers in the beginning of the month, running an average occupancy in the mid-80% range but dropping down to the mid-teens by the end of the month.

Visitors in March 2020 dropped by -49.9 percent to 84,400 compared to March 2019

Visitor direct spending in March 2020 dropped by -52.8 percent to $97,626,700 compared to March 2019

Lodging occupancy was down -43.6 percent to 50.5 percent compared to 89.6 percent last March

Lodging average daily rate dropped -29.9 percent to $169.46 from last March’s $241.79

Total room nights sold dropped to 224,500 down -42.8 percent from last March. We expect the Tourist Development Tax collections for March 2020 to be down 50 percent.

Please stay healthy.

Virginia J. Haley

President

Visit Sarasota County

 

Tennis Center reopening

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

I’ve had a number of contacts about possibly opening the Tennis Center for some limited playing activity; suggesting play could be limited to residents on alternate courts and for singles play only. As I indicated to you, I discussed this with Kay and suggest that consideration be given to permit limited play, consistent with the current spacing guidelines.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Tennis Center reopening

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

I think this is a good idea to consider. The Longboat Key Club has been operating on an every-other-court, singles only basis throughout with some additional recommendations concerning gloves and alternating cans of balls. Maybe Kay could speak to Briana Francois about the details.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

On the path…

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly

We are working on plans to ultimately restore public services and amenities on the island. The timing will be important. We want to be very careful how we do that since there are still active daily positive test results occurring in Sarasota and Manatee County. We are also managing the risk to both our residents and our employees and consulting with Public Health on ways to do that. Depending on the service or amenities we are developing a phased approach similar to the State and the plan that Sarasota County is coordinating with the municipalities. Your email is a good example of how services can come back on line in a phased approach.

I say all that to say as part of our overall recovery plan we are reviewing the Tennis Center operations this week and how and when it can be safely and incrementally re- opened. I expect to have more info on that plan later in the week. I also have scheduled another COVID 19 update for next Monday’s virtual Commission meeting where we will talk about the status of emergency and the recovery planning efforts.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Restoration of services plan

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Mayor, thanks for the email. We are working on our overall restoration of services plan.  Obviously tied to managing the risk for both the residents and our employees and with consultation with Public Health.

This will be an important week as we expect the Governor’s Office to update his Executive Orders regarding Safer at Home and Essential Services and Activities, Vacation Rentals, etc.  Obviously, the State is looking at a phased approach as are we with collaboration with Sarasota County.

This is a good example of a phased re-opening plan for Tennis.  We are meeting this week to identify the how and when of a Tennis Center phasing plan and will be checking with the County and the other cities that have tennis operations as well as with the Key Club, etc.

I expect to have more information on our plan later this week and I have scheduled another COVID 19 update for next Monday’s virtual Commission meeting where we will talk about the status of emergency and recovery planning efforts.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Beach concern at Privateer South

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

I want to raise a concern I have noticed. Privateer South has recently torn out a large area of mixed Sea Grape and grass foliage bordering the beach leaving sparse grasses in place (see attachments).  This dramatically changes the landscape in that area.  In addition they placed a large platform structure adjacent to the beach increasing foot traffic in that area.  Maybe all of this is fine and they have City approval.  But given how closely what happens to the beach and adjacent foliage is regulated by the City it seems this is quite a dramatic change to the beach ecosystem and turtle habitat. If this was allowed on more properties along the beach the beach would have a very different look.  I write concerned that the City is aware and has approved and that it does not negatively impact the beach ecosystem and the possibility of erosion.

James Bilbo

Longboat Key

 

Beach concern at Privateer South

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Please see this correspondence with attached photos from James Bilbo.  Would you please look into this?  Thanks.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Nitrile Medical Gloves

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I’m a county legislator in Albany, New York, and our local sheriff’s department distributed medical supplies for our seniors through local elected officials and senior organizations.  I’ve been trying to find medical gloves for my mother-in-law who lives in Sarasota and has a lung condition.  After many phone calls to stores with empty shelves, and to the Florida Dept. of Elder Affairs, I’m reaching out to you to see if you have any medical gloves. I appreciate any assistance you can provide. Thank you for your kind consideration during this difficult time.

Vicky Plotsky

Member Albany County Legislature

 

Nitrile Medical Gloves

To: Vicky Plotsky

Thanks for reaching out to me. I have copied the City Manager on this email to get back to you on this.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor, City of Sarasota

 

Governor’s orders

To: Sarasota City Commission

Attached are copies of the Governor’s orders extending the current Covid-19 restrictions until 12.01 a.m., Sunday night- Monday morning, 5/4/20, as well as his new order which will go into place at that time allowing retail and restaurants to open at 25% capacity, along with public libraries and museums.

Social gathering restrictions of 10 or less remain, as does the closure of bars, gyms and vacation rentals for the time being.

Also attached are responses to the most frequently asked questions related to these orders and a copy of his power point used during his 5 pm press conference earlier this evening.

As I read the order will remain in place until a subsequent order, while allowing the City to continue to exercise local discretion on our parks, recreational buildings, boat ramps, and beaches.  We will of course ask City Attorney Fournier to carefully review the new orders for ongoing guidance. Thank you.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Follow the data and science

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

The decision to get back to the “new normal” in the City of Sarasota is certainly a difficult one. However, it has to be determined not by passion, protest or emails, but by science, data and public health input. It takes courage and compassion to decide when to fully reopen our City and our beautiful beaches. If we look at public health data and science, it is clearly wise to fully reopen too late than too early. The consequences are severe and lives are at stake. As you are aware, the data shows we should take a slow, measured and careful approach as we attempt to return to normal whatever that will look like. COVID-19 is extremely contagious and we need to be cautious. I and other physicians support your approach of following the data and public health advice to determine when and how best our City should be reopened, not finger pointing.

Together, we will all get through this challenge. Follow the data and science as you have in your decision-making. This, too, will end! Be strong and continue to be well. We need you and your team.

Washington Hill

Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Sarasota

 

Thank you Dr. Hill!

To: Dr. Washington Hill

I do appreciate you taking the time to send a statement with your recommendations.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Reopening states

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

The letter from Dr. Hill is spot on.  Science must direct our decisions moving forward. If you compare East and West coast responses,  and the disparity of Covid case count, one can speculate that case counts would have reduced if Governor Cuomo would of acted more quickly.   Quick response in  listening to science in California, Washington, and Oregon  likely saved thousands of lives. I watched last night with amazement listening to Florida Governor DeSantis opening the state of Florida with the exception of three counties. Interesting, I did not realize the virus recognizes county lines. He states that he is basing his decisions on science however he also uses his own inner counsel. I suspect this is code for intuition or gamble. This must remain a science decision.  Likewise, politics are playing here in central Illinois. Lawmakers including the Peoria mayor are suggesting we should be treated different than Chicago. They state that we do not have the case count that Chicago does. Perhaps they need to round with me in the ICU as case counts in our ICU go up by 3-5 per day over the last two weeks. We are not yet at our peak. I am concerned here, just like many other states, that other factors are guiding decisions rather than just science. Unfortunately, these decisions affect all of us. Those who choose to disregard shelter in place orders as well as the science guiding those orders likely will have impact on us all.  Keep yourself and your family safe as possible.

Patrick Whitten

Professor of Medicine

University Illinois College of Medicine

 

Reopening states

To: Dr. Patrick Whitten

Thank you Pat. I appreciate you taking the time to communicate your professional opinion. Stay safe!

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Lido Beach– closed but definitely populated

To: Sarasota City Commission

At 6:45 this evening I drove out to Lido Beach, knowing that it was not yet open to us for any reason. A single policeman ( in his vehicle)  put on his loud-speaker to hurry me along as I waited  for less than a minute to see if a car parked along the beach with  its tail-lights on ( just past the metered parking) was about to pull out. I moved and the officer then sped past me.  Had I seen him  again–or another member of the force– I would have flagged him to point out this situation:

I parked about 100 yds ahead (in front of the Holiday Inn) and got out to walk the sidewalk, hoping at least for a glimpse of open water.  What I could see from the sidewalk were at least 50 people scattered along the beach– some playing with a beach ball, other adults sitting or strolling in small groups (some groups were as many as 5-6  adults).  I saw beach-closure signs & barriers that had been pushed aside. I watched one group of 4 adults park their SUV (with FL plates) and simply walk around one of the barriers near the ramp nearest St Armand’s Circle.

I wished I were joining them and felt foolish depriving myself of a late day swim and walk.  But I am law-abiding.

I never saw another police officer or police vehicle in the hour I spent walking the sidewalk parallel to the beach.

If the Commissioners are holding back opening Lido for some point of comparison with Siesta Key– the experiment has already been compromised. The closure needs to be either terminated so that Lido Beach is then as open as the other beaches in the County or its closure must be publicly justified– in detail– and then visibly enforced.  We can’t have it both ways.  What on earth were you thinking?

My personal hope is that Lido Beach will be opened and that parking in all the County’s beach lots will be allowed–perhaps  with appropriate social distancing between vehicles? I agree that we still need to hold off allowing tents, umbrellas, and stationary congregations of beach-goers.  However, open beaches are vital social safety valves and we should use them for our collective mental and physical health.

Holly Chase

Sarasota

 

Lido Beach– closed but definitely populated

To: Holly Chase

Thank you for letting me know about the gatherings at Lido beach this evening. I have copied the City Manager and Staff on this email and am confident we will receive a response.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Lido Beach gatherings

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I applaud you for following the advice of medical experts and keeping Lido Beach closed. However, after about 6 p.m. many, many people come onto the beach. When I took a walk about 6 pm tonight, there were about 60 cars parked along Ben Franklin Drive and the adjacent area of Ringling. It was like a giant beach party. Attached to my next email is a  7:47 p.m. photo of a scene near the Pavilion that was repeated all along Lido Beach tonight. Not even social distancing. This is so dangerous. Is this ordinance only voluntary?

Helen Abramowicz

Sarasota

 

Lido Beach gatherings

To: Helen Abramowicz

Thanks for contacting me about this. I have copied The City Manager and others on this email to respond. It seems you tried to send photos but they did not come through. Could you send them again please?

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Outdoor Hand Washing Stations/ Covid-19 Safety Initiative

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

My name is Eric Moncrief, I saw your segment on CNN sharing what’s happening in your city. I would like to ask your help in getting our hand washing stations strategically placed around the City of Sarasota to fight the virus. We would like to discuss ways to distribute them anywhere people need to wash hands before entering public places while maintaining safe distances.

Jet South LLC, made up of principals Chris Brady and Enryk O’Callaghan, is passionate and focused on helping out communities and people all over the South and the United States by providing what is clearly the most important weapon we have against Covid-19…Hand Hygiene! We are donating multiple hand washing stations throughout the city and Metro Atlanta area as we are very concerned with the well-being of our community. Our office is located on the Beltline for example and we are installing units to try to keep Atlanta’s Beltline open. In addition, we are providing grocery stores, restaurants, convenient stores, gas stations, hardware stores, retail outlets and companies all over the country with the ability to lease or purchase our hand washing stations in order to assist in promoting practices that keep the people of this country healthy to the best of our ability. Jet South LLC manufactures a variety of options including hose hook-ups and maintenance free filtration units.

We believe our civilization’s next step should be washing our hands before and after entering any building, providing sanitary and safer experiences and giving shoppers, patrons in restaurants and customers in barber and beauty shops – Peace of Mind!

On our temporary website (www.JetSouthLLC.com), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/jetsouthsink/), and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pg/Jetsouth-100242748335809/videos/?ref=page_internal)  please find videos and live feeds of our stations being demonstrated. Please don’t hesitate to call with any questions and be safe and healthy during this difficult time!

Eric Moncrief

JetSouth LLC

 

Outdoor Hand Washing Stations/ Covid-19 Safety Initiative

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Harmer

Thoughts?

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Outdoor Hand Washing Stations/ Covid-19 Safety Initiative

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

Not crazy about draining soapy water directly into storm drainage system, therefore directly into the bay.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Outdoor Hand Washing Stations/ Covid-19 Safety Initiative

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

Right. Good point. Is there another way to drain these?

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Outdoor Hand Washing Stations/ Covid-19 Safety Initiative

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

Empty when full, connect to sanitary lines, or as rumors go, keep recycling until evaporation. Hand sanitizer is the current next best option.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

COVID-19 and the upcoming agenda

To: Sarasota City Commission

As we finalize the May 4th agenda item materials related to the ever evolving Pandemic situation, we wanted to get you the basic background material and viable options related to a possible city funded economic recovery aid (grants and/or loans) program. The working draft of the suggested grant program outline is attached.    

Although we are continuing to research options and pull together business district information, the basics program outlined in the attachment proposes up to $5,000 grants to assist hard pressed small businesses impacted the most by the pandemic. Grant funds could be provided to help with  a wide variety of eligible small business expenses.   Similar to some of the elements of St. Pete’s program, with the dollars identified at the recommended level per each grant, well over 400 grants can be made.

We look forward to reviewing this with the City Commission and providing supplemental information as it is prepared and/or per your request.

I am also hopeful that by Monday, I will have much more clarity on local Covid-19 testing availability as the local economy begins to reopen and how testing will be sustained over the summer and autumn seasons, and of course most importantly how testing and contact tracing will be funded and/or should any of our economic recovery dollars be made available for that vital purpose as well.

Upon your final direction a short grant application and whatever legal agreements that will be necessary to move forward will be developed for as rapid an implementation and disbursement of funds as possible.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Hotel Houses

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I know you are well aware of the hotel houses taking over the barrier islands. This is a new concern residents have with the corporation owning these houses. Van-loads of non residents are checking in and staying for months at a time. Just last Saturday approximately 12 persons from Massachusetts checked in to the Hotel House at 436 S. Polk Dr., half flew in, the other half drove in. Some wore masks, some did not.  Massachusetts is now the 3rd worst state for Covid 19. Did these renters self quarantine themselves, of course not, they were outside walking around within 20 minutes of their arrival.  The rental business was called, they basically said, mind your own business we have a business to run.  Are the Hotel houses considered an Essential Business? The police were notified, they said they had no authority to do anything. Who then, can stop this invasion of these undesirables? As you know, there are many senior citizens on Lido and St. Armands. Does any government body have authority to stop this from happening? Please advise.                                   

David Musteffe

Sarasota

 

Hotel Houses

To: David Musteffe

Thank you for bringing this to my attention, although you are not alone in this regard and this is not a new challenge. I have copied some involved residents, the City Manager, City Attorney, Police Chief, and Staff for clarity, guidance on our current situation, and a response.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Regarding Public Tennis Courts in Sarasota County and City

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody

I am writing to you with my suggestion that the city of Sarasota reopen their public tennis facilities.

As of April 23 the USTA has revised their official statement on playing tennis. The main point modified was that their position went from not recommending play to recommending play under some safe practice guidelines/ auspices.

Below is the link to the revised USTA official Coronavirus statement as provide by USTA Florida.

https://www.usta.com/en/home/usta-covid-19-updates.html

My position is first that everyone be safe and play in a healthy environment. Second, I believe it is possible to play tennis safely. At this point I believe we are all better served to devise solutions to insure that we are all safe while enjoying healthy activities such as tennis as opposed to simply staying home and not participating.

Thanks For your help with this and please forward it to whomever else you feel may be able to help in getting public facilities back open in both the city and Sarasota County.

Stay well and see you on court!

Tom Whitten

Director of Tennis

The Oaks Tennis Club

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