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Editorial Letters – Week ending June 12, 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.

Village parking

To: Longboat Key Commission

I have a couple of questions that I would like answered in the workshop on Monday, June 15.

It has been repeated several times by the three of you commissioners, in both a meeting and in print that a two-hour parking solution may be the way to go in the Village.

Question 1: How do you see this two-hour rule eliminating the parking problem in the Village? Please supply fact-based data on how that would occur. If anything, it will increase the parking turnover, meaning MORE traffic because instead of cars sitting there all day, they will turn every two hours.  Who will enforce this? I would like to hear your rationale. St. Armands was referenced in the Observer article, but you do know they are looking to get rid of rule.

Question 2: What are the “large policy ramifications and impacts for the island as a whole,” as it relates to the RPP.  What specifically are the IMPACTS for the rest of the island?

Question 3: If Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach eliminate the 2,000 parking spaces and the beach parking on Bridge Street, where do you think those beach goers are going to go?  They can’t go anymore north.  They are going to go further south, meaning, Longboat Key.  The first stop is the Village and the Broadway Beach.  What “visionary planning and proactive leadership” do you have to accommodate this influx of beach goers, that bring coolers, food, beverages and even diapers and leave them on our beautiful beaches, beach accesses and properties within Village.  Will you be the ones to access and collect the garbage that is left in our neighborhood?

It’s time to start the process drafting an ordinance for the Village RPP.  Just do it!  We’ve been talking about this for years now.  Protect your residential neighborhoods. It’s the right thing to do.

Kimberly Ross

Longboat Key

 

Street Parking

To: City of Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth

Thanks, Judy.  Our issues are a little different, but let’s talk when you have time.

Ken Schneier

Mayor, Longboat Key

 

Street Parking

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

I will reach out to you just as soon as I have a chance.  I am sending you the statement that was presented to the commission so that you have some background on why and how. Without restroom facilities and lifeguards, the vast amount of people coming to our beaches became a public health and safety concern as well as added congestion, noise, and trash in these residential neighborhoods.

Judy Titsworth

Mayor, City of Holmes Beach

 

Street Parking

To: City of Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth

We on Longboat Key are also addressing street parking issues and I wonder if we could compare notes.  Please call me if you have a few moments.  Thanks.

Ken Schneier

Mayor, Longboat Key

 

Flooding on Broadway

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

My name is Matthew Schroeder and my wife and I own a condo at Sea Pines on the north end of LBK since 2003. She began coming to LBK in 1973 and myself in 1981 while we were dating in college. Hopefully that gives you a sense of how special LBK is to us.

I’m also a member of the Sea Pines Condominium Association Board and also serve as Treasurer. I know you and the entire Town Commissioners and Staff are focused on hardening our infrastructure in response to climate change and its associated effects, including flooding.

Attached are photos of flooding on Broadway in front of Sea Pines that resulted from the multi day rainstorm we just experienced. As you know, the rainstorm was primarily caused by the recent tropical depression/storm centered over New Orleans approximately 900 miles away. One wonders what the impact might be if the storm was stronger and closer to LBK.

One of the photos is of a storm drain that was overwhelmed by the flooding. I’m asking if the Town can add this drain and it’s related piping and pumping to the list of locations the town is improving/hardening etc to increase our resiliency to flooding.

More broadly, we would also welcome any assistance the Town can provide regarding what we can do as an Association to help increase resiliency.

Matt Schroeder

Longboat Key

 

Flooding on Broadway

To: Matt Schroeder

I drove the north end on Saturday and saw the flooding in a number of areas, including yours.  We have installed Wastop valves recently in the Village and Sleepy Lagoon and are looking at whether these measures or others can be used to help mitigate these issues on Gulf of Mexico Drive and west.  I have forwarded your note and photos to Town Manager Tom Harmer and Public Works Director Isaac Brownman who are working on this problem.

We are also working on a comprehensive plan to address sea level rise throughout the Town.  This is a high priority and one whose progress we will share with everyone.

Ken Schneier

Mayor, Longboat Key

 

Lighting ordinance

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Here is some information to consider as you review the proposed Ordinance Amendment 2020-05.  The last attachment is an invited address by a professor at UF if you need an expert.

I also searched all the codes for the towns and counties listed in the newspaper as being ones who allowed lightning systems to exceed height limitations and did not find a single reference to lightning systems. Including the three towns on Anna Maria.  But what they all had was the accepted global and national standard (National Fire Protection Association NFPA) written into their codes for anything related to fire such as fire extinguishers, sprinklers, fireworks, standing pipes, electrical and gas codes.  In fact this is the standard used in the state of Florida’s building code.  This the standard that the ESE system for which the proposed amendment was specifically written by its supplier Windemuller (manufactured by Heary Bros) and that has the Court Judgment issued against it.  It does not and cannot be advertised as meeting the standard for lightning devices. Windemuller is trying to use an acronym for the simple phrase nationally recognized testing laboratory.  I think this is on purpose so that it is easy to confuse it with NFPA. Any private testing lab can be a nationally recognized testing laboratory. We need NFPA to insure safety for any device related to fire. Please do not move this proposal forward.  Please separate our residential properties within any height ordinance.

Lynn Cook

Longboat Key

 

New police chief recommendation

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

I see that the Town of. Longboat Key has posted the job opening for Chief of Police, anticipating the retirement of Chief Cumming on October 1, 2020.  I am writing today to strongly support the candidacy of Deputy Chief Frank Rubino to fill this position.

While I realize an outside search is a prudent control process, the residents of Longboat Key value continuity in this important transition.  As you know, Frank Rubino has compiled an exemplary record in his 40-year career in law enforcement and admirably served his country in the Marine Corps prior to his police career.

I have been a resident of Longboat Key since 1992 and presently own two homes on our beautiful island.  Longboat Key is a special place and our police officers appreciate that fact.  I have lived in New York City, Philadelphia, Buffalo and other cities, but have never before seen the type of exemplary deportment, courteous mannerisms and respect for citizens equal to that shown by our police officers here on the island.  This type of admirable behavior flows from the top and I believe it is critical in this transition to maintain this philosophy and code of behavior.

In his six years on Longboat Key, Deputy Chief Frank Rubino has provided this leadership to his officers and will continue to do so as Chief of Police of Longboat Key.

Please feel free to share this memo with members of the Town Commission and please contact me should you have any questions.

Michael D. Madden

Longboat Key

 

Village parking

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

Hi my husband and I would love to meet at your earliest convenience, but also understand you may be very busy and totally understand.   I am leaving it up to you to decide.

I can send you the information that we would like to understand better from your perspective.

Along with some pictures of what is going on in our historic residential neighborhood.

Also earlier today I was informed about Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beaches approach to parking that was publicly posted.

Which was also mentioned at the commissioner’s meeting when referenced by we the village during our public session, and can be found in a document I submitted to each of the commissioners entitled RPP.

Having experienced living on Long Island for 52 years in a beach community with restaurants and shopping, we have watched the westward movement of the 5 boroughs through Nassau County and now deep into Suffolk County.

Similar to what will take place on Longboat Key if these situations in the forefront are not addressed.

Everyone does have the right to enjoy the beaches and restaurants and shopping that this beautiful island offers, but at what cost to the residents who have chosen to make this their home.

Our main concern would be the enactment of 2-hour parking and how it would be enforced?

I have done research on this proposed method of utilizing 2 hour parking in the village as opposed to RPP, that you offered at the Commissioner’s meeting, and found there to be quite a lot of issues that are of concern.

One specific concern would be if chalking of tires was utilized as enforcement, our 4th amendment protects people from unreasonable search and seizure, and this approach has been well documented as a violation.

Secondly, how would this benefit the resident of this neighborhood?  Since St. Armands had to back track on their proposal after finding that residents were getting tickets.

Lastly, it is used to increase turnover in areas, which I think is something we should try minimize, and research has found it to be confusing to senior citizens. Thank You for your time and consideration.

Patricia & Robert Lopez

Longboat Key

 

Village parking

To: Patti and Robert Lopez

Thank you for your thoughtful input and perspective. I have asked the town staff to review the time limit proposal and whether it is practical and at what cost. I have seen the pictures recently sent to the commissioners and make at least 2-3 trips a week to the Village to observe the issues first hand. My objective was to force all of the restaurant service workers to park in the West end shopping center parking area. I agree having restaurant visitors wondering your neighborhood looking for parking everyday is not acceptable and look forward to discussing solutions in our meeting on Monday.

Mike Haycock

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Village Parking

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Mayor, thank you for partaking in an ongoing dialog with the village community. Someone once wrote my wife and I argue long enough to find out what we are actually arguing about. Prior to your joining the discussion, on behalf of the town, there has been virtually no meaningful discussion between residents and commissioners on this matter for decades. Having various residents talk for three minutes at occasional town commission meetings has accomplished little.

All the “many steps” taken by previous commissions have not decreased traffic numbers by a single car, nor decreased the number of cars parking all over the village during the business hours of the restaurants. Just the opposite. As a direct result of recent town actions, most recently the Shore expansion, conditions have become steadily worse for village residents. One step forward, five steps backward so to speak, as far as village residents see town actions.

I want to reply to one or two specific arguments you put forth about various parties with supposed vested interests. I am not arguing that there are a number of parties who might want to see the status quo remain unchanged. I am saying that these concerns may not be a daunting or as legitimate as some might think.

1) “That the Commission takes the Village’s complaints seriously is demonstrated by the many steps short of an RPP taken so far to try to fix the problem, including off-site parking requirements that have not yet been fully implemented.  Other such steps, such as restricted parking hours, may be considered as well.”

1) “off-site parking requirements” –  as far as I remember, the town did not initiate the MV off-site parking lot. It was the MV who found a way of building a parking lot on commercial property specifically zoned to not allow a parking lot. It was the MV’s lawyers who unearthed yet another flaw in codes intended to protect property owners. The end result may well be a five thousand dollar empty shed, called an office, in the middle of a parking lot that should never have been allowed, even with our weak codes. Why wasn’t an independent traffic study required if the commission is concerned with the safety of villagers?

What became of the lofty village vision of Commissioner Spoll’s revitalization committee. All we get now is an ugly pile of dirt at the edge of our neighborhood that was once a beautiful natural vista, just when Whitney’s has invested so much money to beautify the north entrance to the island. Do you wonder why people are unable to comprehend the workings of the town government? What became of comprehensive planning?

2) “restricted parking hours” –  If the hours coincided with the business hours of the three restaurants, little will change. The problem is the restaurant’s impact on the village, and it is their business generated traffic that is the sole problem.

3) There is seldom, and perhaps only on holidays, a time when people want or need beach parking in the village, because ample parking exists west of GMD. I do not believe permit parking will inhibit people from enjoying the north end beach. I believe very few island resident beach-goers would be inconvenienced by restricting parking in the village weighed against the constant restaurant generated traffic and parking congestion in the village.

If the town instituted resident permit parking for all the town beach access locations, imagine how such protected access might enhance property values on the island. Taxpayers spend tens of millions of dollars to maintain island beaches, yet have to compete with off-island beach-goers for limited access. Permitted island resident beach parking may greatly improve the beach experience for all island taxpayers. We need to increase property owner access to our beaches.

Unfortunately for beach-going islanders and boat trailer parkers, the restaurant employees and customers gobble up most of the parking spaces in the village from eleven in the morning to nine at night. All the more reason to expand boat ramps to other parks on the island, and RPP to all beach access locations. The town might lose some funding in the process, but the cost/benefits should be studied carefully as we fund canal and beach projects costing tens of millions, and how we can best serve the taxpayers.

4) Most villagers believe that the eight hundred pound critters in the corner are the restaurant owners. It is a fact that if the restaurants were still functioning as they were when I started coming to LBK in the late seventies, we would not be having this conversation.

I believe that there is little common ground between village residents and those who take the position that the restaurants have been allowed to exploit the village residents way of life, for greater profit, by past commissions and now we just have to live with things as they are. I am unable to see the logic of such a position. People on the south end do not have the right to dictate conditions in another part of the island, just because they dislike valet parking, which is available at the two restaurants. If this thinking were valid, no RPPs would ever have been allowed to be created and the USSC would not have ruled in favor of RPPs. No one has the right to negatively impact the wellbeing of another citizen for trivial reasons.

Taxpayer Rights – I may be one of the more vocal residents when it comes to taxpayer rights. You have proffered that taxpayers from other parts of the island have a right to park on village streets. In a perfect world this might be entertained as a viable argument for allowing the restaurants to destroy the property values and lifestyle of an entire neighborhood. However, there are a few other taxpayer imbalances that need to be considered. All taxpayers pay for a mile of beach at the Key Club without any legal access to that beach. The same is true for a majority of the beaches on the island where there is no parking, no practical legal access, and no valet parking. Taxpayers foot the bill for dredging canals all over the island, yet cannot share in the increased property value to those homes along the canals or tie up their boats within the canals. Taxpayers even maintain the water and sewer mains behind the private gates of Harborside and Islandside. Life is not perfect. But the greater good is best served by creating an RPP in the village.

All Longboat residents will still have full access to both restaurants with the creation of an RPP in the village. Someone told me that both restaurants have managed to accommodate everyone who wanted valet parking, and it is free. Perhaps a good reservation system will help the restaurants better serve their customers in a timely way.

Since the restaurants are constrained by law to have ample parking for the allowed number of seats, there is a legal remedy that resolves the the current impasse between the restaurant owners and village residents. That legal remedy would be to simply reduce their seating to realistically accommodate the parking demands with their on-site parking. The owners happily agreed with past, and not so past, commissioners that they have adequate on-site parking. It would be interesting to see how a magistrate or jury would view the reasonings of the town in fashioning the codes that allowed the restaurants to go too far and then keep going even further with the assistance of essentially non-enforcement of existing codes and ordinances.

The Commission takes the Village’s complaints seriously. The town makes no attempt to control illegal seating or capacity at the restaurants, No fines. No closings. No code enforcement of any kind that has been visible to village residents. No fire marshal warrants for unsafe and unlawful capacity violations.

Boat Ramp Access – As I wrote previously, and others have pointed out, the original village was a commercial fishing community much like Cortez Village, with narrow streets, small building lots and easy access to the water surrounding the village. Times have changed, but the narrow streets have not. Where the original inhabitants of the village most likely launched their boats for lengthy periods of time, and stored their fishing boats in their yards, just like Cortez village. Back then there were not many people living on the island.

Times have changed everything. Now there are dozens of year round and seasonal residents who enjoy launching and using their boats from all over the island. Unfortunately the narrow streets in the village remain narrow, less than twenty feet narrow. Modern boat trailers are often eight feet wide. Unless a boat owner is experienced, and observations at the village boat ramp show many more inexperienced boaters than pros, parking boat trailers is often problematic. Trailers are seldom parked just at the edge of the narrow pavement, resulting in the parked trailers taking up half the road width. The result is a narrow single lane street barely wide enough for a car to pass on the wrong side of the street. Things get really tight when one eight foot wide boat trailer attempts to pass another poorly parked eight foot boat trailer on a nineteen foot wide street, with fewer than two feet of clearance on each side.

Problems with safety and impassable streets for emergency and fire vehicles should also be considered.

Simply put, the village is not an ideal place to park boat trailers. If everyone launched their boats and then returned their trailer to their yard, as villagers are able to do, things work swimmingly. Having our discussion made me realize there is a win-win scenario, if the town uses parks & rec funds to expand boat ramps to Quick Point and to a lesser degree, Bayfront park where the under-utilized kayak area could be easily modified.

I hope this adds some points of view to a welcomed dialog. Thanks for your time and efforts on behalf of the town and the village residents. Your efforts are noticed and appreciated.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Village parking

To: Gene Jaleski

This is useful discourse.  As it would take more than 3 minutes to present at a meeting, please ask Trish to include it in the record for the meeting at which the RPP is discussed.  Thanks.

Ken Schneier

Mayor, Longboat Key

 

Sarasota in Motion draft Feedback

To: Sarasota City Commission

I read with great interest the draft copy of the “Sarasota in motion, a Transportation Master Plan” draft this week and the invitation for public review and comment. I apologize for sending this directly to you versus your staff’s project team but have found this is a much more effective way to provide input and feedback on city matters that affect the citizens I represent.

First, I would like to complement the Commission on the Vision and Core Values and the staff on the key elements of the plan. It provides dedicated bike and pedestrian paths, wider paths on our streets (complete streets and road diets). The result should be a much safer, more beautiful place for the Sarasota citizens who live and work within a mile of city center. The future vision reminds me of some of my favorite cities that I have biked in like Minneapolis, Seattle, Nashville and Montreal.

I am especially excited with the expanded city trails and Streetscape corridors described in the first 4 priority projects.  With the Cities investment in downtown parking garages I can see many opportunities to park and bike in and around the city. I also would like to hear more about the Core Route Transit improvement and a reference to a dedicated bus lane to St Armands and the Beach’s.  Done correctly, this could greatly reduce the traffic across the bridge.

I have also seen great examples of multiuse streets – cars during the day and restricted to pedestrians at night and think this will greatly enhance the safety and vitality of downtown.

Now to my constructive criticism and request for input. The Title of this study should have been “A plan to improve the safety and beauty of Downtown Sarasota by building more bike and pedestrian paths and streetscaping”. That is clearly the primary focus and that part of the is well done.

However, it is not a Transportation Master plan as the title describes. It appears to completely ignore the primary form of transportation (Cars) and one of the key transportation issues (grid lock at rush hour and during the tourist season). Its primary focus is on people that live and work within walking distance of city center and ignores the majority of us who commute to and around the city. Even after three years of feedback to the city staff about traffic issues driving into the city the staff said in the report “Traffic delay is a concern but not a major priority for people in Sarasota”. Also, it is concerning that there is no mention of driver satisfaction in the core values that will drive future action.

I spent 8 hours Friday in a seminar given by the FDOT for elected officials on how Districts can “achieve safe, healthy streets that provide quality of life, sense of place and economic vitality that ultimately are designed for all modes of transportation. They presented many examples of cities large and small that have converted to pedestrian and bike friendly cities. However, those studies started with a mapping of current roads and major arteries, what problems exist today and how to make improvements that enhanced all citizens not just people that lived in the cities. My favorite example was converting a six-lane highway that ran right through a city with three 2 lane parallel complete roads. Biker and pedestrian usage increased; retail shops flourished but not at the expense of drivers that still had the same road capacity as before.  I did not see any similar analysis of how traffic moves today, what the current issue are and how to build an infrastructure that addresses both driver and bike/walker satisfaction.

One last piece of input. This plan assumes a growth rate of 20% over 20 years or 1% a year. The FDOT modeling used to design the US 41 Gulfstream roundabout uses 11%. A private study done by the Longboat Key Commission stated that as the growth rate increases the roundabout design becomes less effective at moving traffic than our current 3 lane design. Since your staff is assuming almost twice the growth of the FDOT planners I wonder if we have the right design.

In conclusion I would like to ask that the following be done to make this a true Transportation Master Plan.

      1. Please provide a meaningful way for our voices to be heard. The Plan describes the Community input, but the sessions were one way with little to no a two-way dialogue (see Sarasota Herald’s Columnist Carrie Seidman column on March 12). I suggest an open workshop, presentations by your staff to key stakeholders with question and answer time or an extended Commission meeting where you can hear us in person.

      2. Map out a current and future road artery’s that recognizes the need to get vehicles efficiently to and thought downtown Sarasota. One of the comments by the FDOT consult said every road doesn’t have to be everything to everybody. Enhance the roads parallel to the main arteries and make them bike and pedestrian friendly and keep your main arteries (Fruitville Road) efficient for car traffic.

      3. Relook at the US 41 at Gulfstream roundabout with a 20% growth rate and make sure we have the right design.

      4. Of the 40 projects identified in the study by my count only 8 could improve the congestion we see today and none of them made the top 20. Let’s pick one or two of them and move to the top ten.

I look forward to discussing my input with you and your team in person before the draft becomes final.

Mike Haycock

Vice Mayor, Longboat Key

 

Sarasota in Motion draft Feedback

To: Longboat Key Vice-Mayor Mike Haycock

Thank you very much for sharing your very thoughtful and helpful comments and concerns about the City of Sarasota’s Sarasota in Motion Master Plan. At the request of Commissioner Alpert, please see Ms. McGue’s responses below to your questions and concerns. All the best and be safe.

Marlon Brown

Deputy City Manager, City of Sarasota

 

Sarasota in Motion draft Feedback

To: Longboat Key Vice-Mayor Mike Haycock

Thank you for contacting us regarding our transportation plan. I sat through the same webinar on Friday by the FDOT that you did. My takeaway was that the transportation plan proposed by city staff was in line with the best practices presented in the webinar.

The Gulfstream roundabout is designed to alleviate the congestion going to and from the barrier islands and the mainland. This roundabout has been years in the planning, is funded, and set to begin construction in the Spring of 2021 after “season.” It is a main component of a series of roundabouts and improvement to U.S. 41 designed to make them more efficient and increase connectivity between both sides of U.S. 41. If any one component is missing, then the entire plan fails. I have copied the city managers and our planning team in case any of them would like to respond.

Liz Alpert

Commissioner, City of Sarasota

 

Sarasota in Motion draft Feedback

To: Longboat Key Vice-Mayor Mike Haycock

Thank you for your interest in and review of the Sarasota in Motion draft plan. Your comments are noted, and I would like to take this opportunity to address some of your concerns and provide some clarity to address several apparent misinterpretations of our planning efforts.

Thank you for your support of our adopted vision and core values, as well as our complete streets projects.

City staff look forward to continued coordination with Longboat Key staff regarding several of the recommendations in this proposed plan, including the Core Transit Routes project. We have had the opportunity to meet with Longboat staff already, and have had some constructive discussions regarding this project.

Our team is confident that the title of the plan, as well as the policy, program and project recommendations are consistent with that of a full citywide transportation master plan. This plan builds upon current projects we have planned and  under construction that improve vehicle congestion, such as the roundabouts on US 41, while simultaneously making the environment safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. I attended the FDOT Placemaking webinar this past Friday as well. As you might remember, one of the important points brought up by the presenters was that improving facilities for people to use other modes of transportation beyond driving reduces the number of trips being made by car overall in a city—thus creating more space on the road for drivers. This is an essential element of our masterplan. By focusing on providing safe, convenient travel for shorter trips that can be made by other modes of transportation around Sarasota, this increases the capacity of our roadways for the longer trips that cannot or will not be made by another mode of transportation. If you have questions about that, or would like to discuss this in more detail, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly.

Our team completed a citywide traffic network study during the development of the plan. That study is documented and described in the Phase 2 Report, available for your review and download on our project website here. This study, in addition to the community engagement that was completed during this phase of the plan in person and via our online map is how the project team determined the list of projects that were scored according to the core values adopted by our City Commission.

Our plan assumes a city population growth rate of 20%, as you noted, however there is not a direct correlation between traffic growth and population growth, especially when we are proposing improvements to our transportation facilities to support active modes of transportation. The approved design for the US 41 and Gulfstream roundabout is appropriate given these assumptions, and furthermore our plan assumes this roundabout is constructed as planned.  Per the most recent technical memo provided to FDOT from Kimley Horn, a roundabout at Gulfstream Avenue will provide a 29% reduction in overall intersection delay during the February peak hour and a 41% reduction in overall intersection delay during the March peak hour.

We have provided opportunities for the community to engage with staff on this plan throughout the planning process, both in person and online. These are well documented in our draft plan, and I have inserted the infographic here for those who have not yet read it. Ms. Seidman’s column, as you referenced, was in response to our most recent Public Open House meetings which were designed to have the public provide feedback to staff 1:1. Our previous community workshops have had different formats, including an open Q&A. The project team has also attended events and scheduled opportunities for people to interact with staff and provide feedback during each phase of the plan. Furthermore, Longboat Key staff have attended every community workshop and open house meeting we have hosted and provided our team with feedback.

The recommendations in our plan are consistent with keeping car traffic efficient while also meeting the adopted vision and values of the plan.

While we are not scheduling new in-person outreach events for the plan at this time due to COVID-19, we will be reviewing this draft plan with our Planning Board on Wednesday 6/10 at 1:30pm via conference call. After the public comment period is over and any necessary changes to the draft plan are made, the plan will be coming before the City Commission for adoption.

Thank you again for your interest in Sarasota in Motion. Please feel free to get in touch with our project team directly if you have additional questions.

Colleen McGue

Chief Transportation Planner, Planning Department, City of Sarasota

 

Position papers

To: Longboat Key Town Commissioners and Planning and Zoning Board

I have been asked to weigh in on the implications of “position papers” and whether they are legal and/or appropriate given the Sunshine law requirements.    The purpose of this email is to address this issue.   

As a reminder, the Sunshine law is about transparency.  The  law is intended to insure that topics that are coming before the collegial body or are foreseeable to come before the body are discussed publicly.   There are three basic requirements of the Sunshine law: (1) all meetings of 2 or more members of a collegial body must be open to the public; (2) reasonable notice of the meetings must be provided; and (3) minutes of the meetings must be taken.  Fla. Stat. 298.011 and Art. 1, Sec. 24, Fla. Const.    

From a legal perspective, a single communication from one member of a collegial body to the rest of the collegial body on a subject matter coming before the board  for consideration (a/k/a “a position paper”) does not violate the Sunshine law.  However, if there is further commentary or interaction  between the members of the collegial body reacting or responding to the initial member’s “position paper” outside of a publicly noticed meeting, then the Sunshine law would be implicated.   The rationale is that one individual’s position paper is just that individual’s personal position on the matter, and that singular position does not represent the decision of the collegial body.    However, if other members of the collegial body respond to one member’s initial position paper, with their own position papers  directed to the collegial body, then there is an interaction, debate and/or exchange taking place between the members of the body that potentially violates the open meeting requirement of the Sunshine law.   Accordingly, if a position paper is transmitted to you from one of your fellow Commission/Board members, please refrain from responding to that position paper until the next publicly noticed meeting of the Commission/Board.    

An excerpt on this subject from a Sunshine Law Outline by attorney Patricia Gleason (one of Florida’s foremost experts on Sunshine law) is below:

a. Written communications between board members

A city commissioner may, outside a public meeting, send documents that the commissioner wishes other members of the commission to consider on matters coming before the commission for official action, provided that there is no response from, or interaction related to such documents among, the commissioners prior to the public meeting. Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 07-35 (2007). In such cases, the records, which are subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act, are not being used as a substitute for action at a public meeting as there is no interaction among the commissioners prior to the meeting. Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 89-23 (1989). If, however, a report is circulated among board members for comments with such comments being provided to other members, there is interaction among the board members which is subject to section 286.011, Florida Statutes. Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 90-3 (1990). Accordingly, while a school board member may prepare and circulate an informational memorandum or position paper to other board members, the use of a memorandum to solicit comment from other board members or the circulation of responsive memoranda by other board members would violate the Sunshine Law. Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 96-35 (1996). Similarly, a procedure whereby a board takes official action by circulating a memorandum for each board member to sign whether the board member approves or disapproves of a particular issue, violates the Sunshine Law. Inf. Op. to Blair, May 29, 1973. And see Leach-Wells v. City of Bradenton, 734 So. 2d 1168, 1171 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999) (selection committee created by city council to evaluate proposals violated the Sunshine Law when the city clerk unilaterally ranked the proposals based on the committee members’ individual written evaluations; the court held that “the short-listing was formal action that was required to be taken at a public meeting”).

Based upon the foregoing, while a single position paper (one way communication) from one collegial board member to the rest of the body may be technically allowable under the Sunshine law, I generally advise public clients (and their individual members) against their use and distribution outside of publicly noticed meeting.  My recommendation against this practice is due to the unintended consequences created by position papers.  Specifically, when one member distributes a position paper outside of a public meeting, the other members of the board either: (a) feel compelled to respond in writing to the initial individual’s position paper  (which should not be done because of the Sunshine law discussed above);  or (b) feel resentful because they have been muted on the position paper topic as they cannot publicly debate the merits of the position paper until the next publicly noticed meeting.  It is with these considerations in mind that I caution the Town Commission and Planning & Zoning Board on the use and distribution of position papers relating to topics that are coming before the board or are foreseeable to come before the board.

I hope this email serves as a reminder of the applicable Sunshine law considerations.  As always, if anyone has any questions or concerns regarding this matter or any other matters relating to the Sunshine law, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Maggie D. Mooney

Town Attorney, Longboat Key

 

Street Parking Problems in the Longboat Village area

To: Longboat Key Commission

We have recently spoken to a number of our fellow Longboat Key neighbors about how much we enjoy the new restaurants in the Longboat key Village. We did, however, notice and shared our growing concerns about the associated increased traffic and parking congestion which is in direct conflict with our island quality of life vision.

We support Pete Rowan and the village residents in their efforts to help restore their streets to the more peaceful “island paradise” environment that was there before the expansion of the restaurants. The Village has always been charming and formed a part of the unique character of Longboat Key. Let’s preserve the Village ambiance by eliminating the excessive street parking and establish sustainable long-term alternative solutions.

Cathy and Paul Tomass

Longboat Key

 

Persistent City Street Flooding

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Liz Alpert

We are writing to you on behalf of ourselves and other neighbors residing on Garden Lane on the North end of Siesta Key. For more than 5 years, we have been communicating with Sarasota City engineering to help resolve a persistent problem with flooding on our city street. This problem occurs year round when it rains and affects the entire street. We typically have water standing on our street for 72 hours plus, attracting mosquitoes and making it difficult for city services such as trash, recycling and yard waste people to do their jobs.  The attached photo was recently taken and shows the cul-de-sac at the end of Garden Lane. We also have photos going back for many years for your review. We would appreciate your assistance and support to help address this issue.

Clark and Mary Zumwalt

Sarasota

 

Persistent City Street Flooding

To: Clark and Mary Zumwalt

Thanks for contacting me. This is the first time this has been brought to my attention, so I do not know what city engineering has done about this or if there is a solution. I am copying the city managers so that the appropriate staff can respond.

Liz Alpert

Commissioner, Sarasota

 

Persistent City Street Flooding

To: Sarasota City Deputy Manager Marlon Brown

Hi Marlon – Mr. Zumwalt is correct.  Over the past 5 years and maybe even longer the cul-de-sac gets flooded and eventually dissipates over time.  I have met with Mr. and Mrs. Zumwait’s at the site, conversed over the phone and corresponded via email over the past 5+ years regarding the flooding at the end of the street.  I have also met, spoken and emailed his neighbor across the street several times regarding the flooding.  Unfortunately there are no drainage structures in the road to convey the storm water so that it does not accumulate at the end of the road.  The road is also sloped from Higel toward the cul-de-sac so water discharges overland east to west accumulating at the end of the road. I have explained to Mr. and Mrs. Zumwait and their neighbor many times that in order to eliminate storm water from accumulating at the end of the cul-de-sac a storm water structure with piping or an overland swale would need to be constructed to convey the water to the adjacent bayou.  However, the property between the end of the road and the adjacent bayou is private property and the City cannot be involved unless either neighbor grants an easement to enter the land.  This has been explained to them numerous times and neither property owner is willing to transfer an easement to the City.  I have even mentioned to Mr. Zumwait, who is more willing to do the work than his neighbor, to hire an engineer to provide a design for the drainage.  I believe he has not taken that route.  I have also met with and spoken to the County, they agree that the project is achievable but would need to be permitted from SWFWMD.  We will be resurfacing  this road within the next few months and will try at a minimum to eliminate some of the storm water but not completely remove it.  Up to this point we are aware of the situation however.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Mike DelRossi

General Manager, Public Services

 

Persistent City Street Flooding

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Liz Alpert and Clark Zumwait

He discussing this with staff the City is willing to design (in-house) and construct the drainage conveyance if Mr. Zumwait is willing to provide to us an easement, otherwise there is no other option other than hoping the resurfacing may provide some relief. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Marlon Brown

Deputy City Manager, City of Sarasota

 

Persistent City Street Flooding

To: Sarasota Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

Thank you and all parties for your quick response and review of our situation.  For those of you unfamiliar with the situation our initial reluctance to granting the city an easement stems from the origin of the problem. A concrete gutter and rock swale was located on our neighbors property. She filled this in many years ago resulting in the current flooding problem.  Given that, we were concerned about incurring the cost for fixing a problem we did not create.  We were also concerned to how an easement might affect our property footprint, which is already limited due to the lot configuration.

At this time we feel time is of the essence given that the city is planning to resurface the road and is willing to design and construct a drainage conveyance. We look forward to discussing easement options at your earliest convenience.

Clark and Mary Zumwalt

Sarasota

 

Persistent City Street Flooding

To: Clark Zumwalt

Let me first apologize for the incorrect spelling of your last name and secondly, I intended to say in my e-mail response “ In discussing this with staff vs. He discussing this with staff….”. Staff will be in contact with you to discuss proceeding. Be safe and all the best.

Marlon Brown

Deputy City Manager, City of Sarasota

 

City Center Preschool

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch and Commissioner Hagen Broday

I tried to email Mr. Stancel to find out if decisions have been made about the Grants, but his mailbox is full. You may remember me, I inquired at length about the Grant and eligibility and requirements for my small preschool. I amended my City Grant request to reflect a $2,500 loan from the County. I still have not been approved by the County, and still haven’t heard about the $595 I applied for from the City. Still no official approval or denial from either municipality. I have bills stacking up. I could really use some guidance. Please let me know when I might expect a decision from the City about the Grant.

Robin Schmidt

Sarasota

 

City Center Preschool

To: Robin Schmidt

Thanks for the follow-up email. I have copied the City Manager and staff on this email and they will follow-up with a response on the City’s side.  Mr. Stancel retired at the end of last month after 12 years with the City, and Ms Freemon-Montes is temporarily stepping in (copied on this email).

I recommend contacting the county administrator and count commissioners per the count grant (also copied on this email).

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Oak Tree at Enclave In Laurel Park

To: Sarasota City Arborist Donald Ullom

My tenant at 1920-1/2 Laurel Street informed me recently that the two woman who purchased the southern most single family home on the corner of Cherry Lane and Lafayette Court wishes to obtain a permit to remove the only remaining live oak tree left on the property.  The grand oak tree between my home at 1920 Laurel Street is on my property line.

I have been informed that they wish to build a concrete retaining wall and want to remove the oak tree. I wish to know if the city of Sarasota plans on granting this permit if applied for.

Devin Rutkowski

Sarasota

 

Oak Tree at Enclave In Laurel Park

To: Devin Rutkowski

Thank you for your email concerning the potential removal of an oak tree. I have copied the City Manager and staff on this email to respond (and copy me too please).

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Oak Tree at Enclave In Laurel Park

To: Devin Rutkowski

After I speak with Mark and Don I will respond more fully. However, from a policy perspective, if the tree is healthy we would not allow its removal for a wall. Instead we would offer suggestions on how to bridge roots or infill between the wall and tree in a manner that would not harm the tree or require its removal.

I’ll be in touch Monday.

Gretchen Schneider

General Manager Planning and Zoning Department

City of Sarasota

 

Oak Tree at Enclave in Laurel Park

To: Sarasota City General Manager Planning and Zoning Department Gretchen Schneider

Thanks Gretchen for your response.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Updates

To: Sarasota City Commission

Nephthali and I just wanted to send out an email updating you all on our next steps. We know you are all very busy, but I wanted to make sure we kept you in the loop. We are currently putting together an educational event to educate teenagers and other members of the community on the importance of voting and how voting is the only real way to have our voices heard and to bring the next steps towards change for BLM and other movements. We are hoping there could be a way for you to help us achieve a permit under a quick time limit.

We are aiming to have our event on June 13th at noon at Payne Park. We have about five teen activist members scheduled to talk on various points on the importance of voting, the census, and how local government contributes to national government and movements such as BLM. We are pushing for the event to be on the 13th as teenagers are more likely to come to events under short notice. We have a text link prepared to send out the Florida voters registration link as well as a PDF we are developing that covers the ins and outs to voting, districting, county/city commissioners running, and more. We will also be following Covid-19 guidelines during this event.

We thank you all for your time and hope that you can help us accomplish our goal of getting a permit and possibly having you attend our event.

Gwen Goodacre

Sarasota

 

Updates

To: Gwen Goodacre

We would be happy to help facilitate.   Give me a call tomorrow, or send me a telephone number for us to contact you. Thanks.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Updates

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

Thank you so much, we will give you a call tomorrow. What time would be best for you?

Gwen Goodacre

Sarasota

 

Opening the skate park

To: Sarasota City Commission

Just checking back in if there are any updates about opening park. Parents are getting restless. Also Jake Ilardi, who grew up skating the park, is ranked second in the USA and is in the Olympic team was in there the other day and a bunch of the stuff Evergreen did has now been broken up and pulled out. It’s a mess. Kids that don’t care are jumping fence and tearing the park up. Is there anyone or anyway we can just have the city unlock and lock the gate right now? Every other city owned park in Florida does that. Us as skaters do not want to see our park and the place we call home go to waste. If we can meet in anyway and find a solution I would be more than willing too.

Tim Storck

Sarasota

 

Opening the skate park

To: Sarasota City Commission

Hope everyone is doing well in these crazy times. All the skaters in Sarasota are ready to skate the park again. We’ve been going to the Bradenton Riverwalk Skatepark and Anna María Island/ Holmes beach to skate. In my 18+ years of skateboarding I’ve traveled the world and been to countless skate parks that are unmanned where the gate is open on a time schedule. Riverwalk skate park 20 minutes up the road is open 24/7 and they don’t have any problems there. A police officer stops by every few hours and leaves. There are 4 unmanned skate facilities in Manatee county alone. Four unmanned facilities!

I don’t see why Payne skate park can’t be the same way. The Tennis courts, running trail, and playground are all unsupervised.

Here’s my suggestion put a sign up like the one in the picture below and open the gate up for now. The building has no need to be occupied for the skaters to skate at the skate park.

Jake Ilardi

Sarasota

 

Opening the skate park

To: Sarasota City Commission

I have not heard anything back since email sent out last Friday. I still do not understand why I keep saying updates on all the other city parks but we can not do anything with the skate park. We worked hard to get it here in the first place and would like to skate it and keep it maintained. Right now people are skating it anyway and damaging it because why should they care if the city does not care. We are the only city owned park in Florida that is not open for free and unmanned. Everywhere else has figured it out. I have done enough research to know that signs can be put up to skate at your own risk and the city will not be held liable. Just like playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis courts and other parks. This is not just a place where troubled teens go to but while families go to and it has been a place to keep kids off the street and let them release energy in a positive way. I would greatly appreciate some feedback and would like to meet up with someone whether face to face or through zoom.

Tim Storck

Sarasota

 

Opening the skate park

To: Tim Storck

We have been getting emails regarding opening the skate park, so I have copied the response from our Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Fogle to one such inquiry. I believe it answers your question.

He stated:

“I hope your day is going well. As you are aware, the agreement with SK8SKOOL expired, while we were closed. We received one bid from a company to manage the skate park. Purchasing is in the process of scheduling an interview between the committee and company. As you are aware SK8SKOOL did not submit a bid.

At this time we are unable to open the skate park until we select a vendor to manage the skate park.

We will keep you updated, once we select a vendor. Depending on how the interview process goes with the committee and company, we may need to rebid this out. Once we select a vendor, I would recommend the vendor submit a plan to the City per the CDC guidelines for the use the skate park.

The City is unable to operate the skate park due to a hiring freeze and Part Time employees being furloughed for the rest of this fiscal year (fiscal year is October-September). The City has a shortfall of around $2 million dollars for this fiscal year. We are also reducing our budgets to assist with the shortfall. PT employees play a significant role for Parks and Rec. Although, we opened Payne Park Tennis and plan to open Arlington on Friday, May 29, the hours of operations are significantly reduced. The Lido Pool, Robert L. Taylor Pool and the Children’s Fountain are all operated with PT employees and will not open until at least October.

The bathrooms are available for the Payne Park Tennis Center and they will be available, once the Arlington Pools open on Friday, May 29. However, the showers at both locations won’t be available at this time. Thanks and enjoy your weekend!

Jerry.”

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Liz Alpert

Commissioner

Sarasota

 

Opening the skate park

To: Sarasota City Commission

I have seen this email before and understand the city is short handed and waiting on bid which sounds like it could be awhile. What I don’t understand is why the park in Sarasota has to be manned. If you open the gate and let people come and go just like all the other parks. We do not need the shop to be open. It just really makes no sense why that can’t happen while they wait on bids to run the park. Right now there are three other parks with in 30 minutes that are run that way. I still wish that we could speak with someone in person or through zoom to bring more attention to this and for you to see how important the park is to our community.

Tim Storck

Sarasota

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