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Editorial Letters – Week ending May 22, 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.

Virus impact on Sarasota

To: Sarasota City Commission

The Wuhan Chinese virus temporarily eliminated Sarasota traffic gridlock and downtown nightly noise pollution. The virus’s dubious single benefit was to empty our 1980 designed roads to reasonable, efficient vehicle levels. Pedestrians could walk without fear of accident. Drivers including critical service workers, could easily navigate safely, on time when venturing out during the pandemic from their homes.

Second, outdoor roof top restaurants went silent i.e. The Westin and Ovation, waterfront outdoor restaurants and outdoor neighborhood patio and sidewalk music establishments went silent. No O’Leary’s Tiki bar outside music, no Owens fish camp loud outdoor music nuisance, no numerous Main Street outside bars nightly noise cacophony. For nearly two months, residents have enjoyed peace of sound without daily, jarring outdoor music penetrating our homes’ living rooms and bedrooms. We could sleep, rest quietly, admire a sunset, peacefully read, watch tv or just open a window for fresh air without hearing background drums and base guitars.

Downtown residents want all venues and businesses to reopen, be successful and prosper but after living in this new changed environment, City Commissioners, the Chief of Police and town manager Barwin must recognize, as well, restaurant owners and mangers, their neighbors and voters from all neighborhoods will strictly demand enforcement of outside Noise Pollution laws. No exceptions, no debate, no delay. Licensed business violators should be subjected immediately to business license forfeiture, criminal and civil fines, documented, quantifiable damages and for repeat violators, jail time.

Going forward, it’s not going to be business as usual. Voters want tougher noise level ordinances with appropriate stiff penalties, new laws if current regulations are insufficient. This is a local 2020 campaign issue.

Policy must be business and commissioner respect for neighbors‘ lives and well being.  This has not been the case. Times have changed, the virus did this. Life is to precious to endure local corporate insolence by not self policing their operations and our Commissioner’s past failure to routinely and vigorously enforce our city’s noise ordinances. In the last two years Manager Barwin has failed to make this a staff priority. If he continues to fail his core duty, resident well-being, the city will have to find someone who can.

As the horrific Chinese corona virus eases, downtown residents will vigorously defend our homes’ newfound quiet enjoyment as America and Sarasota go safely back to work.

Citizens when virus safe, please go to lunch, dinner, patronize our local establishments, tip well, drink beer, have fun but all outdoor noise and music stops at 7:30 p.m.

Commissioners do you hear your voters?

Nancy Willis

Sarasota

 

Covid-19 compliance at Beachplace

To: Editor

Beachplace has been and is on the move with the Governor’s Compliance Mandates

as they apply to Covid-19. All Mandates are rigorously enforced at Beachplace by our

General Manager, Loren Lysen.

Pictured is Jack Keelin, Past President Emeritus of Beachplace displaying the new

Beachplace Jersey reminding all residents and guests of compliance. Also shown is management’s Social Distancing mat while waiting to get into the Lobby Elevators.

Paul B. Ahern

Longboat Key

 

Final plan unclear

To: Editor

Your sub heading totally sums up how Longboat Key is run…too much money!

$3 plus million for land they are not sure what to actually do with.

Now! Another $650k spent on this folly, scrambling as if, ‘We know what we are doing’ — to do what?

It’s actually pretty unclear…but we’ll spend $650,000 anyways, it’ll look as if we know what we are doing.

They blew away the arts option, which was the  main validity they had and now, it may have to end up a yet another park.

How many parks can this tiny village of an island sustain? Bayfront has more areas of sea grasses, than it has actual usable space. In construction, that called a cheap filler. The Park is full of it.

Durante Park is a virtual liability and hardly used. Centennial is yet another costly maintained and mostly unused park (it’s on the corner and has a bell) if you are unsure.

The almost forgotten park at the bottom of the island, name of which, I cannot even be bothered to recall brings the total to I think four.

Sadly, now, somebody with deep Town pockets thinks, ‘We’ll make it five’.

Imagine if it was their own money. Seriously, how many are needed by such a tiny community? I’m intrigued.

Trevor Gillott

Longboat Key

 

Short-Term Vacation Rentals- County Plans under the Governor’s Order

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

As previously mentioned, the Governor’s Executive Order for the Full Phase 1 openings provided an opportunity for Counties (not cities) to submit a plan to re-open short term vacation rentals.  Both Counties (Sarasota and Manatee have submitted Plans that are under review by the State but have not yet been approved. The draft Plans that we saw are pretty consistent but since we are still under a State of Emergency the entire Town would fall under the Sarasota County Plan. Sarasota County submitted their Plan Monday evening and Manatee County submitted their Plan on Tuesday- they are expecting approval of their plans as soon as today. The Plan does allow vacation rentals to resume, but limits to some degree where individual are coming from.  There is as formula that relates to States and the # of cases per 1000 based on a May 18th date.  Based on my quick check at the data it looked like there are 8 States that would fall in the category of restricted- most in the Northeast, but also includes Louisiana.  If you fall above that threshold you cannot reserve a vacation rental during this next phase. There are also other restrictions and guidelines to the owners of the facilities in the Plan and the County indicated that they will also be developing and distributing a guide to the property owners. We are awaiting the final version of whatever Plan may be approved and a copy of the recommendations/guidelines so we can help the County message out the information.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Short-Term Vacation Rentals- County Plans under the Governor’s Order

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

All I have seen on vacation rentals seems to refer to future reservations.  Are all past vacation rental reservations deemed void unless re-reserved under the new rules?  Also, is there a sufficiently bright line statewide between vacation rentals and tourist rentals, e.g., hotels, inns, etc.? Thanks.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Short-Term Vacation Rentals- County Plans under the Governor’s Order

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Mayor, thanks for the email. Executive Order 20-87 nor any of the follow-up related Vacation Rental Orders or extensions say anything about voiding or re-reserving so I would think that prior (existing) reservations for a period of time during the new County Plan duration would not require that.  Obviously, a local rental property, may have their own procedures to confirm or reconfirm a prior reservation in light of the restrictions that they have been under.

The different types of rentals and how clear it is which properties are covered by the Order or by the new Plan is a good question.   Our short-term rental ordinance still applies for our residential properties and is not affected by the Order.  It can be confusing though as you look at the tourism properties on the island.  For example, the Vacation Rentals Executive Order specifically exempted out “hotels, motels, inns, and resorts.”  The interpretation we received from the Florida Department of Business Regulation (DBPR) is that the Order is more specific to the type of license the property has- so if they have a State “Vacation Rental” license from DBPR they are restricted from short term vacation rentals at that property.  A number of our properties in the Town would appear to be what’s considered an “inn” or “resort” (including in their business names) but are licensed by DBPR as “Vacation Rentals,” likely due to their internal ownership patterns where units may be owned by individual owners so would then be subject to the Order, regardless of what they call their property.

The intent of the County Vacation Rental Plans would be to then allow those previously restricted properties to start accepting new reservations and guests in line with the new restrictions approved on a county-by-county basis.  In reviewing the local county plans the restrictions are primarily focused on limited visitors from certain states and requiring the properties to follow certain precautions consistent with CDC best practices.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Short-Term Vacation Rentals- County Plans under the Governor’s Order

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

But our code does not allow for short-term rentals on LBK anyway, right?

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Short-Term Vacation Rentals- County Plans under the Governor’s Order

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

Correct. The plan would apply to legal short term rentals. For us that would be for some of our tourism properties that have a State vacation rental license. Those have been restricted until the latest Order allowing Counties to submit reopening plans.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Parking in the Village

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Good morning Mayor, I hope you are doing well under the conditions we are experiencing. I just wanted to discuss with you my opinion about all of the input that I have read in the Town emails. As you know, I have spent close to 20 years living on Longboat Key and have served on the Town’s Planning and Zoning board or the Town commission for most of that time. I have been listening to the residents of the Village about parking issue for most of those years.

I keep hearing people writing letters saying that the town (commission) as continued to allow increases to the restaurants over the years. The reality is that this is not true. I can think of many times the restaurants have filed requests for expansions but they were denied. The Mar Visa in particular has made several modifications to the restaurant but has not been allowed additional seating. There are many reasons that I believe that parking has become an issue, but most of them are not new. One reason that is being overlooked, is that there are more people living in the Village. Small homes have been torn down and larger homes have been built. In my years living here I have observed that more and more people are going out to eat than in the early years. There are many other reasons for the parking problems but it’s not that the restaurants have been granted additional seating. I’d be happy to discuss my experiences at any time. Thanks for the job you’re doing. Hopefully you’ll get a break soon.

Jim Brown

Longboat Key

 

Parking in the Village

To: Jim Brown

Thanks, Jim. I always appreciate your historical perspective. In addition to increased population and patronage at the North end, we’ve had more seepage from the growing tourist base on Anna Maria.  We hope the restaurants’ new parking arrangements will help.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Village parking

To: Jim Brown

We thank you very much for your many years of service to the town. Your contributions have been greatly appreciated. We would like to clarify a few points in your recent email regarding the parking problems in the Longbeach Village

Your statement that the town has “(not) allowed increase to the restaurants over the years“ is completely incorrect. This statement is totally untrue in 2 significant ways:

1. Dining Seats have increased

a) The Mar Vista has increased from 52 seats to 169 over the years. When the Mar Vista outside deck was built we were promised that no food would ever be served out there.

b) The Shore, formerly Moore’s, has also increase the number of seats from 150 to 185. But while Moore’s was not operating at full capacity when sold, the new Shore is running at full++ capacity. More capacity = more cars.

2. Restaurant Size and Capacity have increased

a) The Mar Vista was originally contained entirely indoors. By allowing the expansion to first the deck and then the lawn, the amount of people milling around, getting drinks, admiring the view, waiting for a dining table has dramatically increased the number of people that can be accommodated. It can, and does, host customers way beyond the 169 seat dining limit on the property.

b) The Shore has also significantly increased its footprint. While Moore’s had a small bar area and no milling space, the Shore now has 2 bars, many benches and sitting areas, a large clothing retail space, and a much larger dock area. The customer capacity has been greatly expanded way past the 185 dining seats. Nobody in the Village understands how the footprint was allowed to expand to such an extent, and nobody understands the rationale that the town commission had in arbitrarily overturning the referendum vote of the Longboat residents and rezoning the property from residential to commercial. Remember, the residents voted, in an election, for the property to be residential, yet the commission decided the property should be commercial. Wow! Twice the capacity for people on the properties = twice the number of cars.

3. Town Codes

The intent of the town codes is for all customer parking to be able to be accommodated on site and not spill to public areas. However, we all know that the assumption that there are 4 people to a car, no requirement for employee parking, and that boat slips and bike racks count as parking spaces, is totally inadequate. In season, and at night, there will be no bikes and only 1-2 boats visiting the restaurants. As a result the parking needs of the restaurants far exceeds the on-site capacity. The village has become a massive parking lot for the restaurants.

Would the commissioners allow what has happened in the Longbeach Village to occur in their neighborhoods? Denying the circumstances will not fix the problem. While we appreciate the small incremental steps that have been taken, we really need to fix the problem once and for all. The recorded path to how this condition was created should be in the Longboat town records.  We would be happy to discuss this topic with you further at any time.

Pete & Carla Rowan

Longboat Key

 

Results from State Testing site

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

I was able to get a response from FDEM on the issue with a delay in sharing test results to residents who have gone through the State run COVID-19 mobile testing site in Manatee & Sarasota County.

Once the test is taken there is a 24-hour delay for travel and submission of collection kit to the lab. Once the collection kit arrives at the lab test results should be available in 72 hours.

Those who took the test should expect a phone call with their results 4 days after the date they took the test.

Those who tested positive are contacted first. In the first few weeks the testing lab provider was only able to contact 1,000 people a day. They have now been able to contact 4,000 people a day.

As of 5 p.m. May 18th the backlog of test result notifications should be caught up

The lab will make four attempts to call the person on the number provided and if they do not make contact a email will be sent. Residents who go through the test site are provided a How to receive your results page.

Edward J. McCrane Jr.

Emergency Management Chief

Sarasota County Government

 

Results from State Testing site

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Further response on from Sarasota County on the State Testing delays that were brought up during our Budget Workshop.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Results from State Testing site

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

This may be what they are putting in a memo, but it is not the experience that individuals are having.  For those who must have a negative test to return to work 13 days and still no results is not acceptable.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

CDC Guidelines

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

The nightly walk this evening produced a number of issues and questions related to quarantine, Beer Can Island boat parking, retail establishments with no CDC guidelines adhered to and the failed attempts to get test results from State testing sites.  I am around first thing (I finish Centering Prayer at 8:30 a.m.)  – until 9:30 a.m. then in the afternoon after 1:30 p.m.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Congratulations

To: Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board Chair David Green

Congratulations on your election as Chairman of the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board, and to Ken and Penny as well.  I think we are in very good hands and look forward to working closely with you and your Board to maintain our island’s character while facing our challenges for the future.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Congratulations

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Thanks Ken. Look forward to working with you.

David Green

Chair Planning and Zoning Board

Longboat Key

 

Congratulations

To: Planning and Zoning Board Chair David Green

Congratulations on being elected as Chair of the Planning and Zoning Board.  I know you will continue to do the outstanding job you have done as Vice Chair and as a member of P&Z. Stay in touch.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Congratulations

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

Thank you for the note and support. Hope to see you in person before too long.

David Green

Chair Planning and Zoning Board

Longboat Key

 

Longboat Key Village parking

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of those of us who own properties on Longboat Key and who support and enjoy the beautiful place that it is.  I am sure that the past few months have been particularly challenging for all who hold public office.

My wife (Patricia MacDonald) and I have owned the house at Russell Street for more than 10 years. We wrote to all of the then Commissioners on February 16, 2020 expressing our support for a Residential Parking Program (RPP) in Longboat Village.  A copy of our email is reproduced below.  We had hoped to attend the Town workshop on this issue this spring and speak to you in person, but that has not been possible.  We are now at our summer home up north.  We are convinced more than ever that a residential permit system is essential to protect and restore the village to a reasonable living environment.  Russell Street has become a parking nightmare the last couple of winters. This past winter we were often unable to park our own car on our own street.

We would appreciate hearing from you regarding the Town’s schedule for addressing this matter.  Our hope is that a system can be in place before we return to the village in November.

Please vote to support the village in this initiative.  Please vote to ensure that the future of the village is consistent with the lofty ideals expressed in the Town’s vision statement below.

“Longboat Key is a beautiful place to live, work, and visit where the natural assets of a barrier island combine with cultural and recreational amenities, visionary planning, and proactive leadership to enhance your way of life.”

Our village had been this way for many decades, or longer… It has a long and proud history as part of Longboat Key.  However, in the past couple of years, that vision has been seriously overwhelmed by the relentless parking problems generated by the restaurants and by beach goers. Over the 10 years that we have owned our house, the restaurants have been granted permanent planning approvals by the Town to establish and expand.  They are now generating serious parking and traffic externalities in our village that are completely unacceptable.

Temporary solutions are not sufficient to address permanent problems. We all know that the Town’s parking standards are woefully inadequate. No spaces were required for employees to park on the restaurant sites.  The assumption that each car will convey 4 diners is a joke. The number of diners arriving by boat or bicycle in the winter is minimal. The number of patrons allowed to be waiting for tables is excessive.  The recent voluntary initiatives by the restaurants to require their employees to park at the Broadway lots is helpful, but insufficient and is not a permanent solution. Their customers will never park there so long as they have the option of parking on village streets.  The Town has allowed the restaurants to create a parking problem in our community – a problem that is a permanent one that will last as long as the restaurants last. Permanent problems require permanent solutions. Our village is not a parking lot.  It is a village. It is our community. Please do your part to put a permanent solution in place to address this issue.

Please let us know when the Town expects to be in a position to move forward with a decision on the implementation of a residential parking permit program for our village.

Please vote to restore the village to the vision that it once was and deserves to be.

Stephen Garrod and Patricia MacDonald

Longboat Key

 

Longboat Village Parking

To: Longboat Key Commission

My wife (Patricia MacDonald) and I own the house and property at Russell Street in Longboat Village.  We have owned it and enjoyed it for 10 years.

Over those 10 years the Commission has made a number of decisions that have allowed the restaurants on Broadway to expand and rebuild, greatly increasing and exacerbating the parking issues in the village.  We are personally impacted, but so are many others in the village.  Our quality of life has been considerably diminished.

Over the past couple of years the villagers, with leadership from Pete and Carla Rowan and many others, have worked hard to develop proposals to help alleviate the parking problems that these decisions have caused. We strongly and completely support the proposals that you will here from them at your meeting on Tuesday. We regret that we will be unable to attend your meeting to add our voices to those that you will hear, as we are out of the country for the next two weeks.   Please listen carefully to their presentations and please make the necessary decisions to address this parking problem in a way that preserves the amenities of the village for the present and future.  There are many better options for restaurant patrons to park their cars. Our residential streets should be reserved only for parking by residents, their tenants and guests and service and emergency vehicles.

Many communities have such permit parking systems. It is what is needed in our village.

Please vote to solve this problem. Thank you.

Stephen Garrod and Patricia MacDonald

Longboat Key

 

Parking – The Village

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Ed Zunz

Did you happen to witness the parking and crowd mess we experienced in the Village this past weekend! Groups of people in groups of cars circling the village looking for beach parking because Coquina/Cortez beaches full to capacity. They parked illegally, they dumped trash within our home, the Village. This has to stop. Let’s get back on track and approve the RPP, now!

We have a holiday weekend coming up, what can be done to mitigate this explosion of traffic and uninvited guests to our neighborhood. Please ask the other commissioners to come visit us over the weekend and see what we mean!

Kimberly Ross

Longboat Key

 

Parking – The Village

To: Kimberly Ross

Thank you for alerting me to the Broadway beach parking problem.  I reported your concerns to our Town Manager and he quickly  responded with the attached email.  As indicated, we would appreciate your continued cooperation in dealing with this situation.  Ed Zunz

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Parking – The Village

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Kindly advise me of how to respond to Ms. Ross’ concerns.   

Ed Zunz

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Parking – The Village

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Ed Zunz

Commissioner Zunz,  thanks for the email. I have been advised by the Police Department that they were actively patrolling the area throughout the weekend and did cite several vehicles for illegal parking but did not observe or have any reports of littering.  I asked that they reach out directly to Ms. Ross to discuss what she observed and to let her know what actions we are taking to monitor the activity. They will also ask that she report incidents when they are occurring so they can be documented and the police will also be able to respond in a timely manner. If it is an emergency situation, we encourage the public to call 911. If it is not an emergency they should then call the 316-1201 non-emergency number which is also monitored 24 hours a day and the on-duty supervisor will be notified and an officer will response as soon as they are available.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Thank you to underground workers

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Mayor Ken, I wanted to pass on the message that, in the past few days, several neighbors have commented how they appreciate how clean the contractors are leaving the underground construction. The neighbors have reported they appreciate the workers are responsive, friendly, efficient and do their job to restore the areas being disturbed.  The professional and courteous manner in which they are performing their job is noticed and the message has been repeated by more than one neighbor.

Please pass on our thanks to the professionals as they continue to improve our Island.  Thank you for your service and the time and commitment you devote.

Lynn Larson

Longboat Key

 

Thank you to underground workers

To: Lynn Larson

That is so great to hear. I know that Isaac, James and Mark Porter of CDM Smith have worked their butts off to make a disruptive experience as tolerable as possible. They are professionals and they really care. And the end result should make an incredible difference for the whole island.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Christ Church of Longboat Key versus neighbor

To: Longboat Key Town Commission, Town Clerk Trish Shinkle

My name is Ross Toussaint and I have been having an extremely difficult challenge with my neighbor Christ Church here on Longboat Key. I have attached a timeline for you to view,…and to help you and others better understand the facts.

Please also understand how this swale design/landscape buffer failure has negatively effected and affected myself, my family, and my property rights…along with my property value. Please feel free to call with any questions.   

Ross Toussaint

Longboat Key

 

Christ Church of Longboat Key versus neighbor

To: Ross Toussaint

I’m sorry for all the trouble you have experienced over a long period of time.  I have forwarded your note and film to our Town Manager, Tom Harmer, and to Allen Parsons, our Director of Planning, Zoning and Building to see if we can be any assistance.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Christ Church of Longboat Key versus neighbor

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Thank you Ken…I really appreciate your response.

Ross Toussaint

Longboat Key

 

SWFWMD Declaration of Phase 1 Water Shortage

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

You may have read that the Southwest Florida Water Management District has declared a Phase 1 Water Shortage. Their current declaration is in effect through July 1st.  This is based on drought conditions that have been developing over the past several months in our region. Our Public Works Department works with the Water Management District on messaging and enforcement.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

SWFWMD Declaration of Phase 1 Water Shortage

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

As an FYI and as discussed:

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (“SWFWMD”) has issued a Declaration of Phase 1 Water Shortage Order, which goes into effect May 12th and remains in effect through July 1st 2020; details are attached. Public Works will be communicating the notice information and reminding residents of our watering rules using the following outlets:

· News Media (both online and print)

· Social Media

· Town Website

· Special Reminder/Noticing to larger commercial users about current restrictions

If specific concerns about water use are brought to our attention, the Town will investigate and address accordingly.

Isaac Brownman

Director Public Works

Town of Longboat Key

 

Questions for Town Manager

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Commissioner BJ Bishop: On 2021 draft you note “Evaluation of Town Comp Plan”.  Have we not just finished that?  I thought I had worked on this extensively in the last 4 years.

Town Manager Tom Harmer: Every seven years we have to submit an Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) to the State. During FY 2021 we would do the work pulling it together and it is due in FY 2022.

Bishop: What is 3D modeling of Town buildings and what is the benefit of such modeling?

Harmer: This is the initiative to use available lidar data to document the current built conditions on the island. It will help with a baseline in the event of a post disaster redevelopment. It will also help in individual documentations related to our certification of built conditions.

Bishop: Zoning code is same question as the Town Comp Plan – thought that is what we have done.

Harmer: Zoning Code overall format/rewrite was completed. This is the list of follow up policy items that staff is working on. They were grouped and prioritized and staff is still working through that list.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Grant’s Gardens

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly

I am a property owner on Gulf Bay Road and have learned via a fellow property owner (Karen O’Toole, at Gulf Bay Road 560) that the west end of Gulf Bay Road is zoned exclusively for C1 (limited commercial) businesses and that Grant’s Gardens appears to be in violation of this zoning restriction, which specifically prohibits ‘lawn and garden centers and plant shops’. As I live in Germany (and am attempting to sell my property) I am only infrequently in the area and had for instance never noticed the extent of their operations as their fleet of trucks and equipment was generally out in the field whenever I was present. Apparently Grant’s Gardens has recently attempted to hide their vehicles behind potted palms, which can only go so far in disguising the issue. I can of course appreciate Grant’s Gardens position as they seem to have a well-functioning business (perhaps their fleet can be quartered at some other approved location?).  My concern as a property owner is that property values in the residential area can suffer dramatically when residents are forced to negotiate an industrial area while walking to and from their deeded beach access. If possible, I would like to be kept abreast of this matter.

Philip Duval

Longboat Key

 

Gulf Bay Road and Grant’s Gardens

To: Philip Duval

I appreciate your concerns. As I assume you know, Town Staff is working with Grants with respect to zoning compliance issues and current activities. By this note, I am asking Staff to keep you advised on these matters.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Gulf Bay Road and Grant’s Gardens

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly

I just got a FedEx yesterday concerning the ongoing ‘Grant’s Gardens’ Hearings. We have in the meantime sold our property at Gulf Bay Road and are no longer the owners! The new owners, as far as I know, have an address in Sarasota (so considerably less expensive for the town of LBK to keep them informed!).

Philip Duval

Longboat Key

 

LBK North Meeting Recap

To: Longboat Key North Representatives

Great participation and input from all.  Thank you for all you do!

Maureen Merrigan

Longboat Key

 

LBK North Meeting Recap

To: Maureen Merrigan

Thanks again for your invitation to participate in yesterday’s LBK North meeting and for the attached summary.  I wanted to clarify one point in the summary regarding short term rentals:  I am not aware of any current enforcement actions on Longboat Key (or any violation complaints for that matter).  My reference to “60 pending actions” was to cases brought by “hotel house” owners on Anna Maria Island against the Anna Maria municipalities challenging their newly enacted short-term rental laws. Longboat Key is not subject to such cases as our short-term rental prohibitions were enacted long ago and are grandfathered under the State laws that now limit such prohibitions. This is all good news. Thanks again.

Ken Schneier

Mayor, Longboat Key

 

Lido Beach reopening

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

Per our conservation regarding the opening of Lido Beach approximately 2 weeks ago:

Again I have received many phone calls and emails in favor of opening Lido Beach and the parking lots. One of the major points was if the county is opening there beaches why not the city of Sarasota?

Speaking to some of the business people from Saint Armand, they are extremely hurting due to the beach being closed which has foot traffic severely depressed.

Tomorrow gyms and other businesses are set to open, they are indoors so I assume you will be trying to regulate them per state safety mandates. The beach is wide open space (much safer in my opinion). You need to open Lido Beach!

Carl Shoffstall

Sarasota

 

Lido Beach reopening

To: Carl Shoffstall

Good morning. On May 4th the City Commission scheduled a review of the Lido Beach Closure on Monday, May 18th. With nearly two more weeks of Covid-19 data since than, the issue will be taken up tomorrow. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I plan on inspecting the beach today to monitor the activity at Ted Sperling Park, turtle nesting and any additional erosion. Thanks again.

Tom Barwin

City Manager, City of Sarasota

 

Lido Beach Opening

To: Sarasota City Commission

Commissioners and City Administrators, keeping Lido Beach closed is doing a disservice to all of our residents, those owning businesses, those patrons of those businesses, and those who would benefit, both physically and mentally, from being on the beach.

Three Observations:

1) “The Swedish Experiment” article in the Opinion section of today’s Herald Tribune offers much wisdom in how we might respond to the Covid-19 situation. All decision-makers should give this article some serious thought.

2) Most of our residents at risk are those in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. We can trust that this group will make decisions in their best interest. Most will not be spending their days at Lido Beach.

3) Keeping Lido Beach closed when the other beaches in Sarasota and Manatee Counties are open challenges common sense. This only  drives our residents away from the city. Our businesses and citizens lose in every way. Social distancing can work at Lido Beach.

Please…Open Lido Beach to our residents. It’s time!

Norm Dumaine

Sarasota

 

Lido Beach Opening

To: Norm Dumaine

Thank you for taking a few moments to share your thoughts. Per their May 4th discussion, just to confirm as an FYI, the Lido Beach closure will be reviewed at the City Commissions May 18th meeting.   

Tom Barwin

City Manager, City of Sarasota

 

COVID-19 Reality, Social Distancing and Masks are Missing in Sarasota

To: City of Sarasota Commission, City Manager and City Attorney

You are each working hard to do what you feel is right regarding COVID-19.  You may not all agree with each other on everything.   Members of the public may not agree with each of you on everything.

Yet, I think we can all agree on this simple science:

COVID-19 Infection Control = Awareness + Adherence

Please, as you make decisions at the May 18, 2020 Commission meeting, in subsequent Emergency Orders, and throughout the course of the long road ahead with the COVID-19 Pandemic, I ask that for the sake of Public Safety, Health and Welfare you:

1. Be mindful of the reality of human nature that people want to pretend that life is normal, that there isn’t a very contagious virus swirling the planet, and in Sarasota.  The reality is the virus is here and life is not normal.  Please read this essay by Dr. Sanjay Gupta regarding the public and the virus:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/17/health/coronavirus-human-body-gupta-essay/index.html

2. Be mindful that a lot of the general public is not Social Distancing, and are not wearing Face Coverings. Examples: A very troubling walk in Island Park on Saturday that far exceeded the numerous other concerning walking experiences in Sarasota.  There were 160 plus people in the park, probably well over 200 people and yet:

– Face Coverings: only one person had a face covering (besides us).  Three face coverings out of 160-200 plus people.

– Social Distancing:  Non-existent.  It seemed furthest from people’s minds.  We could replete you with numerous several examples, including people directly approaching us in much less than six feet, and without masks.

– Groups:  Most people were in groups.  One group seated in a circle in the grass had at least 26 people.

– City Signage:  I didn’t see any City Signage regarding COVID-19 Public Safety

Another example:  last week, as my husband and I were trying to walk downtown on a sidewalk away from Main Street and Palm Avenue (which we need to avoid due to greater numbers of people and outdoor diners now), a Segway Tour approached us from behind.  The sidewalk could barely accommodate my husband (with his Rollator), and me.  Yet, the Segway Group Tour leader wanted to pass along the side of us.  Doing so was practically physically impossible at all, and certainly not possible for maintaining social distance.  And neither the tour leader, nor the six participants on Segways behind him, were wearing masks.

3. Please Raise Awareness regarding Social Distancing and Face Coverings and Encourage Adherence

– Press conferences

– Public Service Announcements with Commissioners in public wearing face masks and demonstrating social distance

– Presence of City Park staff in parks doing same

– Education and outreach through civic leaders

– Mailings to all households

– Post Signs in City Parks, downtown streets, in neighborhoods, commercial areas, including St. Armand’s Circle, etc.

– Heed, and encourage the public to follow, the advice of Dr. Manuel Gordillo of Sarasota Memorial Hospital:

https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20200513/coronavirus-florida-sarasota-infectious-disease-doctor-answers-questions

Why COVID-19 Matters to Me

A local reporter recently contacted me about an article he was writing about COVID-19 because he had seen coronavirus letters to you from me (and another resident).  The reporter asked me what was driving me to communicate with you so much about the pandemic.  I answered: my professional background in emergency preparedness and response, and my concern for public safety.

There are personal reasons as well.  I want to protect my husband, whose health is compromised. And in 1931, when my Dad was five-years old, his three-year old brother died from an infectious disease.  It was Scarlet Fever.  Scarlet Fever transmits through respiratory droplets like COVID-19 does.  When his brother died, my Dad suddenly became an only child.  The experience of losing his brothers to an infectious disease affected my Dad for life. On June 24, 1990, my brother died of an infectious disease.  My twin sister and I were 33 years old.  Our brother Scot, a brilliant, deeply compassionate person, and rising star in his field, was 35 years old.  He was our only sibling.  He, my twin sister and I were so close we were like triplets.

Thus, my awareness and concern about infectious disease is based on experience.  I know first-hand the extraordinary toll they take — in the immediate moments — days, weeks, months, years — when battling them.  In the sicknesses, fevers, fears, pain, suffering, IV tubes, ventilator experiences, hospitalizations, hopes for medicines, and death sentences they bring to the infected.  The hopes for vaccines.  The emotional pain and loss they bring to loved ones. The emptiness and etched scars they leave behind.  The lives that the deceased lost.  The contributions that the dead ones like my brother could have made to a better world, never realized.

Instead, captured, and killed, by an infectious disease.

I don’t want to see anyone else captured, or killed, by an infectious disease.

I want us all — the general public in our roles, and you in your roles, to do our part regarding the COVID-19 infectious disease.

Please help us all as you execute your highest duty — to protect the public safety, health and welfare. Thank you.

Linda Haller Sloan

Sarasota

 

COVID-19 Reality, Social Distancing and Masks are Missing in Sarasota

To: Linda Haller Sloan

Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts related to infectious disease. All information we receive is appreciated especially when constructive in nature.

Tom Barwin

City Manager, City of Sarasota

 

Appalled at St. Armands

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

Sunday evening my husband and I went for a drive up Long Boat Key. Returning home, we went through the circle at St. Armands.

I was appalled to see dozens of people at an establishment on the northwest side of the circle. They were not 6 feet apart. They were crowded together. I was so taken aback I didn’t even notice the name of the restaurant. What I did I notice was NO ONE wearing masks – servers included.

I applaud the city for taking the measures of Covid-19 seriously. I cannot abide the abject stupidity and selfishness I observed with my jaw agape on the circle. Everyone wants this to be done and over but magically “wishing” it away wont work. Please head the warnings of doctors and scientists rather than those willing to sacrifice our people for economic opening.

I’m not going anywhere publicly around people. I’m not grocery shopping (delivery only). I not rushing to get my nails done (desperately needed), a cut and color or out to eat.

I get the frustration and desire for normalcy. I have 2 people 80 years plus in my household, 1 of whom is from out of state. And my husband and I are homeschooling our 8 year old. But I’m not going to put myself and others at risk to get an ice cream on St. Armands. Please take this crisis seriously.

Danielle O’Donnell

Sarasota

 

Appalled at St. Armands

To: Danielle O’Donnell

Thank you Danielle for reaching out to me with your concerns about physical distancing and mask wearing in public on St. Armand’s Circle.

I have copied the City Manager and others who should also be made aware of this situation especially the restaurant tables being too close. As you may know, we can not force people to wear masks but we can continue with strong messaging.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor, City of Sarasota

 

Sarasota Dining May Workshop

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

Citizens of Sarasota who are greatly affected by the opening of restaurants in Sarasota are the servers working in the restaurants and exposing themselves to scary and possibly lethal conditions.

I have heard and read about how patrons are being protected by social distancing and the reduction of patrons in a restaurant. But since this opening was announced I have not heard any information as to how servers are being protected.

Along with the reduction in the number of patrons comes the reduction in the earnings (the number of tips) for the server. And please consider the working environment – the inability to wear gloves, the lack of social distancing between server and patron, the handling of used plates, glasses, cups and utensils, risking that the patrons have COVID-19 and are coughing, sneezing and touching menus, credit cards, dinnerware and utensils.

Please don’t make your servers the sacrificial lambs in the opening of the economy. Parents, relatives, friends and acquaintances don’t want them to die. Wishing you good health.

Susan Lipton

Sarasota

 

Sarasota Dining May Workshop

To: Susan Lipton

Thank you for your email about protection servers. I do hope they are all being safe and being provided masks, gloves, and other sanitary materials. The City does not have the authority to mandate this, we can only highly recommend it. Let’s hope they stay have.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor, City of Sarasota

 

Sarasota Dining May 12 Workshop

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

Per the email below, plus my separate reply thanking you for your response, I have included below an appropriate and pertinent article from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Restaurant employees are not disposable. They are the backbone of a major source of funds in Sarasota. All of our citizens need the support and protection of our government.

I would truly appreciate your assistance and attention as to how we can protect these vital and vibrant employees.  Wishing you well.

Susan Lipton

Sarasota

 

Sarasota Dining May 12 Workshop

To: Susan Lipton

Thank you Susan. I know how essential it is to protect the employees of the businesses and we are having conversations on how we can distribute masks along with creating a volunteer Ambassador organization to help with messaging, guidelines, and more as we continue to plan on the long term need for safety.

I have copied the City Manager on this email to contribute additional details and efforts the City is undertaking as well as provide information on what the County Health Department is doing.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

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