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Editorial Letters – Week ending August 7, 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.

Blake Fleetwood Editorial July 17

To: Editor

I cannot differ from most of the opinion voiced by Blake Fleetwod in the July 17th paper but take exception to his criticism of “greedy doctors” adding to the costs of

Medical Care”.  As a retired physician and volunteer at the Sr. Friendship Center for 15 years, I wish to defend his defamation of my profession.  Doctors are limited

by their fees from insurance companies and Medicare so his insinuation deserves an apology.  Are you aware that physician’s fees are scheduled to be reduced in 2021?

Think about the fact that the reimbursement for cataract surgery is far less than most dental procedures and we only have two eyes but over 30 teeth?

Marvin G. Frank

Longboat Key

 

Transportation

To: City of Sarasota and Longboat Key Commission

Reading all the different proposals to relieve the congestion during season, don’t you think it is about time to consider a car ferry! People want their cars!

Marie Watts and Wm. Beckmeyer

Longboat Key

 

Great Idea for Fruitville

To: Editor

Not sure any of you read the Wall Street Journal. Saturday, August 1 featured an article about the streets in Paris. The Parisians are able to create bike paths overnight along with sidewalks to promote transportation options for its residents. Enclosed is a picture probably similar to what our experts and city planners had in mind for Fruitville.

Please reconsider moving forward with the Sarasota in Motion Plan which is a plan championed by local Sarasota residents (the voters) and businesses. Please be reminded that you work for the City of Sarasota residents and not the town of Longboat. Many of us will remember your voting records when it’s our time to vote. Suspect you may have to take up residence on Longboat after the elections.

Melissa Furman

Sarasota

 

5G on Longboat Key

To: Longboat Key Public Works Director Isaac Brownman

Isaac and James, I believe that there is less than a compelling business model for the cell providers to deploy “small cell” infrastructure on Longboat. With a slightly increased antennae presence on the north and south ends, provided perhaps by upgrades to Sarasota and Bradenton mainland facilities, accompanied by improved technology, the carriers can provide acceptable 5G service to Longboat with no need for a high capacity small cell deployment. The existing cable provider presence on Longboat presents a problematic business environment for Verizon and AT&T as far as content marketing is concerned. Low density, age demographics and seasonality further impact any business model for our community.

Here is an excerpt from an industry publication that summarizes how the 5G carriers view the trade-offs and costs/benefits of deploying small cell technology in any locality.

Thus, there are three cases to consider. The first is the coverage-limited case occurs when the

number of sites is set for coverage rather than capacity. The second is the spectrum-limited case wherein spectrum is highly constrained, and the number of radios is increased to meet data capacity. The third is the minimum-cost case where the spectrum and number of sites can be matched to the lowest cost solution. The minimum cost case represents the optimum tradeoff for the network operator between the spectrum purchased and the number of sites added.

I will be surprised if the network providers do deploy small cell networks on the island. Over the past two decades, covering 3G and 4G, none of the carriers has chosen to provide optimal coverage to our community. Why would they start now?

Presently, I purchase 50 MBs internet service from Comcast for $20 a month. When 5G network companies come into the data provider market, where there are four or five competing companies, there may be a further drop in end user costs. It currently costs internet delivery companies, such as Verizon or Comcast, less than $2 a month for internet capacity per customer. There is a lot of room for competition. The 5G network providers may choose to cede the internet content market to the existing cable providers on Longboat, since we are such a small market, thus requiring far less 5G capacity and cost.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Losing friends

To: Editor

I just lost two friends. Late last week, I sent a missive to friends and family members that mentioned that I was happy to get home in time for Tucker.

One woman responded:

“You are a fox watcher? Please take me off your email list. We can’t be friends.”

Another recipient emailed:

“When you say Tucker do you mean Tucker Carlson?”

I responded that he was correct. He called Tucker “a piece of shit scumbag” and asked me whether I voted for Trump. When I replied, “I did!” he wrote:

“Wow. That’s very disappointing. Please remove me from your email list, thanks.”

So do me a favor and help me out here. I have always known that these two were liberal Democrats. But this is America! I respect their right to an opinion. We could still be good friends. But once they surmised that I’m a conservative, I wasn’t afforded the same consideration. I’m confused. The left preaches tolerance and open-mindedness. In these cases, it was unfortunately a practice of “do as I say and not as I do.”

I just lost two friends. I’m disappointed — and saddened.

Dean Congbalay

Longboat Key

 

Records request

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

We received a separate records request for any text messages or emails from a personal email account between Town staff and ESA or Carollo engineers from July 3 – August 3. Please also provide the name and title of contact and if not visible what date the conversation took place. Please only reply to me when sending in any text messages or emails do not hit reply all.  If you do not have anything responsive to this request please state that in a reply to me. I need a response from everyone. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Michelle Lowe

Administrative Assistant

Town of Longboat Key

 

Holmes Beach Resident Parking Program

To: Longboat Key Commission

We received a copy of the Holmes Beach Resident Parking Program ordinance last night. It has not been signed yet, but this is the final version that was finalized after their public hearing last week when it was adopted.

Thomas Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Holmes Beach Resident Parking Program

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thanks for sharing.  I noted that their Ordinance allows any owner of a property in there city to apply for a permit. Can you get the background from there staff on that addition and be prepared to discuss when we meet in September.

Mike Haycock

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Holmes Beach Resident Parking Program

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Mike Haycock

Commissioner Haycock, thanks for the email. We are reviewing their final ordinance and will check with their staff as part of the prep for when we bring a draft ordinance back to the Commission at the September workshop.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

El Vernona

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

When I walked past the Quay, it looked like the outside was charged… was there a fire there? How is the overall renovation going? I would appreciate an update and timeline and planned future use of the beautiful historic building.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

El Vernona

To: Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I have copied Brett to respond I am guessing about the Belle Haven being charred and progress with the improvements.

Marlon Brown

Deputy City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

El Vernona

To: Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I think the charring on the east facing wall under the escape ladders was black paint from the ladder repainting, meaning the wall had not been final painted yet.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

El Vernona

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Harmer

Thanks Tom and exactly right. All of the exterior metal has recently been painted and this is the over spray. The body of the building will be painted over the next thirty days as the stucco repairs and weather proofing of the exterior penetrations, windows and doors are finished. Rehabilitation of the building has gone really well, and we expect to have AC in the building within 3 weeks. The new elevator will arrive mid-September and we are looking for a Certificate of Occupancy by Nov. 1. We are working on a Belle Haven grand re-opening event near Thanksgiving and will be reaching out to each of you as we get more details. I would love to tour any or all of you through the Quay site, Belle Haven, Ritz and/or roundabout as you wish.   

Brett Blank

Sarasota

 

El Vernona

To: Brett Blank

Thank you so much for the update. When I saw what looked like a charred outside, I was hoping it was not a fire. So happy the renovations are going so well! I would love a tour of the Belle Haven and others! I’ll leave the timing up to you and Diane (maybe a little closer to CO time, October/November), but would really appreciate a tour – masked-up of course!

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Mask usage at LA Fitness

To: Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I’m referring to the LA Fitness Westfield Siesta Mall (3501 South Tamiami Trail) and this is within the city limits.

Exercise improves immunity, however, Sarasota City exempted exercise facilities from its mask ordinance, the place that needs it most.

I can see not requiring masks for the cardio machines (not really), but why shouldn’t all the other patrons at LA Fitness (weight machines, yoga, socializing, bathrooms, stretching, etc.) be required to wear masks? Many older patrons can’t use the facility because of LA Fitness’s voluntary mask policy (with almost no adherence) and there is zero social distancing.

The reality is, exhalation droplets travel much farther than six feet in front of an indoor treadmill, bike or elliptical user (most likely up to 40 feet). Picture row after row of cardio machines (during the busiest hours) all that huffing and puffing of rows of cardio machine users…much worse than a cough or sneeze at a restaurant.

Also, LA Fitness’s HVAC system filters should be required to meet or exceed HEPA standards to help with this Covid-19 hazard. Please help!

Harry Smith

Sarasota

 

Mask usage at LA Fitness

To: Harry Smith

Ok thanks! I did not know which LA Fitness to which you were referring, thanks for clearing that up! I have copied the City Attorney and Deputy City Manager on this email, so they may respond.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Lido Beach renourishment

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Liz Alpert

Picked up the signs this morning. Thanks. How’s your building? We’ll be moving from Lido at some point and have looked in there in the past.

Meantime, as a constituent, may I ask a question? We’re on the south end of Lido where they’re currently working on the beach refurbishment. We’re delighted about it — though it seemed strange to do it during turtle season and ahead of hurricane season.

In any event, we had no idea that our direct beach access would be cut off – we thought the tubing would be in the water like it was before. No one seems to know how long we won’t be able to walk from our building onto our beach. Do you know? Will it be during the entire refurbishment? I was a bit surprised that beach residents were given no information, e.g. postcards by mail. Would you happen to know?  Thanks!

Jayne Wallace

Jayne Wallace Communications

 

Lido Beach renourishment

To: Jayne Wallace

Our building is great! I have been here since 2002 and I can tell you I am so glad I chose this building. We have a really nice community of residents, most of whom are here year-round. We have great staff. We have a full-time on-site manager and assistant, plus round-the-clock concierge service. The view and location to downtown can’t be beat.

As far as the question about the dredging, I do not know about the tubing. I am going to email our city managers and have the appropriate staff respond.

Liz Alpert

Commissioner, City of Sarasota

 

Cooling tower noise emanating from US Garage Building

To: Richard Augustine, City of Sarasota

Unfortunately, yet predictably, as of July 14, residents adjacent to the 330 S Pineapple office building are once again exposed to increased mechanical noise emanating from the unenclosed and aging cooling tower.

Several residents of 300 S Pineapple (residential condo building) have complained to building management, citing their inability to sleep and disturbance of their right to quiet enjoyment of their homes throughout all hours of the day and night.

Building management of 300 S Pineapple has reached out to Mr. Marcus (the manager of said office building) on July 15 and informed him of the apparent mechanical defect and requested that Mr. Marcus commission repairs. To my knowledge, Mr. Marcus has not responded or taken action to date.

Sarasota noise ordinance cites that “Air conditioners and lawn mowers when functioning in accord with the manufacturer’s specifications and with all manufacturer’s mufflers and noise-reducing equipment in use and in proper operating condition” are exempt from Sarasota city noise limitations. I think it is apparent that a sudden and sharp increase in mechanical noise is an indication that the cooling tower is not in proper operating condition and therefore not exempt from noise ordinance violations. You will find that noise measurements taken past 10 pm exceed Sarasota noise ordinance limits and therefore should be enforced by Sarasota code enforcement and police.

I ask that Sarasota code enforcement and Sarasota City Police swiftly coordination action – please confirm what actions will be taken.

Lastly, it was brought to my attention that commissioners recently voted to approve stiffer fines for noise ordinance violations (https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20200721/sarasota-implements-stiffer-fines-for-noise).

Mr. Brody and Mr. Fournier, since you are both cc’ed on this thread, please advise on the proper steps to take to bring this matter in front of the city commission and once and for all enact legislature that will protect residents not just from music emanating by bars but also from noise emanating by mechanical equipment. Sarasota is a growing city with much new construction yet lacks the noise protection that other larger cities afford their residents.

Thomas Frey

Sarasota

 

Cooling tower noise emanating from US Garage Building

To: City of Sarasota, Thomas Frey, Richard Augustine

Belts have been changed and mechanics greased. There appears to be a rusted bearing and I’m waiting to hear from my HVAC contractor.

In the meantime, stucco seems to de-laminating from the Sansara condo, specifically from a balcony edge on the south side of the building, not to mention a mold like substance is present along the facade. I noticed this yesterday when I was out with my AC tech.

This is potentially a very dangerous situation as my tenants park and walk directly underneath. As a temporary solution, maybe the Sansara should install a system of nets across their façade to protect people from injury? I’d appreciate updates from the Sansara management as to when these repairs will be made. Thank you.

Andrew B. Marcus

Sarasota

 

Cooling tower noise emanating from US Garage Building

To: Andrew Marcus

Any more information yet from the HVAC contractor yet on the rusted bearings?

Larry Payne

Code Compliance Coordinator

City of Sarasota

 

Cooling tower noise emanating from US Garage Building

To: Sarasota City Code Compliance Coordinator Larry Payne

Yes. These bearings were changed out this just this past October.  Unfortunately, the manufacturer, located in Wisconsin, is currently closed down due to Covid.

Tom Bickley from the air conditioning company is getting daily updates from the factory manager. We’re hoping to get this new bearing in ASAP.

Andrew Marcus

Sarasota

 

Cooling tower noise emanating from US Garage Building

To: Andrew Marcus

I want to thank you for your attention to this matter and I know that the last time we had this issue you did everything you could to resolve the noise issue. Please keep me informed on your progress and again thanks.

Larry Payne

Code Compliance Coordinator

City of Sarasota

 

Cooling tower noise emanating from US Garage Building

To: Sarasota City Code Compliance Coordinator Larry Payne

A bit of news that might have been shared earlier. What is to be done now?

Might we again propose that Mr. Marcus limit usage of the offending unit during the night, to allow his neighbors the chance to recuperate from the health hazard level of noise endured during the day?

Patricia Gebauer

Sarasota

 

Cooling tower noise emanating from US Garage Building

To: Sarasota City Code Compliance Coordinator Larry Payne, Thomas Frey, Richard Augustine

Another month. Another weekend when an unoccupied building’s malfunctioning HVAC disrupts life for the neighboring residential building.  In which the residents are forced to live inside and abstain from enjoying their balconies or pool deck, even to open their windows.  Unable to invite guests, since it is impossible to speak at a normal level or enjoy a conversation inside the building, even with doors and windows closed. 24 hours a day. Stop and imagine it. Which of you has stopped by on the way home to experience this affront to the mind and the senses?

And, another ignored request to reduce the time the malfunctioning unit is running, especially over a weekend when most of The Garage is empty.

Is there no one to step in for us? Is there really nothing that can be done?  We are advised to sit and wait for a factory in Wisconsin to reopen?  Is that where we are?  Everyone from City on this email chain is fine with that?

Patricia Gebauer

Sarasota

 

Cooling tower noise emanating from US Garage Building

To: Patricia Gebauer

I personally spoke to Mr. Marcus late Friday afternoon about the unit. I also contacted two individual condo owners to express the City’s desire and support to get the unit repaired quickly and to express our frustration as well that this unit is once again causing problems especially late at night and on weekends with your peaceful enjoyment of your home and environs.

I requested of Mr. Marcus to either turn the unit off at night or operate the unit at less frequent times. Mr. Marcus understands the need to do something and assured me that he is committed while the part is being sought. While he shared that turning off the unit is problematic for his occupants and how the building is cooled he seems willing to operate the unit less frequently at night and on weekends. He committed to exploring that option. I understand that this seems hollow, but we are exploring all of our options.

Many City employees are engaged in this from code enforcement, building inspections, the police department and City Attorney’s office. All of these resources (maybe unknown to everyone) are exploring all options and all possibilities to get all of you back to a level of normalcy. The City Commission also directed staff to bring back amendments to the noise ordinance including the section related to equipment operations.

Rest assured that we are taking this very seriously and I will commit to you that I will communicate the status more frequently as I receive updates from Mr. Marcus and staff and we will get this situation remedied. Be safe.

Marlon Brown

Deputy City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Cooling tower noise emanating from US Garage Building

To: Sarasota Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

Your email is very welcome. Thank you for taking the time to write and give an overview of the situation, much of which has not been noted in past correspondence and therefore unknown to most of us.  From my part, it is comforting to know we are not alone in this.

Patricia Gebauer

Sarasota

 

Cooling tower noise emanating from US Garage Building

To: Patricia Gebauer, Thomas Frey, Richard Augustine

I wanted to provide an update. Today, I spoke to both Mr. Marcus and Mr. Bickley (Climatic Air) who is doing the repairs to the cooling tower. They both called me, and both seem genuinely interested and committed in getting the unit repaired. In the interim until the part arrives, Mr. Bickley has agreed to manually shut down the tower at 6 p.m. starting this evening and put it back online starting at 8 a.m. or a little before that to re-cool the building. This will occur every day until the part comes in (4 – 5 weeks to manufacture and ship). Also, in the interim he is looking at placing a timer or some similar component that will automatically do the turn off and turn on, along with some other adjustments to lower the noise. I understand that this does not fix the problem, but I hope it helps as we look to other solutions until the part arrives. All the best and be safe.

Marlon Brown

Deputy City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Cooling tower noise emanating from US Garage Building

To: Sarasota Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

Thanks for keeping everyone updated. I hope the temporary solution will provide some relief while waiting for the repairs to be done.

Liz Alpert

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Compressor Noise Emanating from US Post Office Building

To: Sarasota City Commission

We, too, are owners and full-time residents. We have not written previously to complain about

US Garage’s unwillingness or inability to silence their aging (38 years old) compressor, first, because our neighbors, and especially our President, Richard J. Augustine, have forcefully and accurately presented the egregious problem.

The excessive noise has continued since at least April 2019 and recently has increased greatly, in spite of numerous perhaps well-meaning, but desultory efforts to reduce it.   

The cause of the problem is regret-able but undeniable: the cooling unit has been long obsolete. After nearly 38 years, in no way could this equipment be considered “within the manufacturer’s specifications and with all mufflers and sound reducing equipment in use and in proper working order.” Therefore, it is unlikely that the unit is exempt under 20-7(3). Why has not this been tested?

First, and most obvious, the equipment should be required to be turned off at night. This should begin tonight!

Second, a sound barrier should be installed immediately.

Third, the compressor should be replaced by a fully operational, contemporary unit.       

Mr. Marcus has been dragging his feet for far too long. It is time for the City to act on our behalf.  That is why we have a city commission, is it not?

Thank you all for your prompt help in solving this relatively simple problem.

Robert and Noelle Haft

Sarasota

 

Compressor Noise Emanating from US Post Office Building

To: Robert Haft, City of Sarasota

I would just like to clarify a few items. The cooling tower (it’s not a compressor) is approximately 18 years old. The unit is regularly maintained. If a component breaks down, I immediately act to repair or replace if necessary.

The narrative that I’ve dragged my feet is not true. I’ve attached a letter from Climatic Air, submitted to Code Enforcement, stating that the tower was operating properly when this hysteria began. Code Enforcement was satisfied with the situation at that time. Once it was determined that a fan bearing had gone bad, I took action right away. As luck would have it, the motor went bad over the weekend which is being replaced tomorrow morning.

A cooling tower, no matter the age, will produce sounds from the fan motor and the fan itself passing over water. After tomorrow we will have a brand-new fan assembly and motor unit.

I will not be dictated to as to when I run the cooling tower. It’s a central cooling system and will cycle on and off depending on the weather.

There have been cooling tower(s) on top of the U.S. Garage Building long before the Sansara Condominium was built. The fact that these people decided to purchase apartments directly over one is their problem not mine. I trust that this will be the last time I hear from them or the City regarding this matter. Thank you for your time.

Andrew Marcus

Sarasota

 

Compressor Noise Emanating from US Post Office Building

To: Andrew Marcus

Climatic might service that unit twice yearly, but the day after they wrote that letter in June of this year your unit began to malfunction and our residents had to endure this insidious noise for months while you continued to ignore the problem.

It is amazing to me that your consistent and continued disregard for the codes of this city and the neighbors who you continue to ignore, offend and threaten their health and peaceful enjoyment of their residence, you think is okay, because you were there first.

It is time to change the codes in this city. It is time for the city officials to advocate for its constituents, stop listening to your excuses and deflection from reality.

What are your plans to bring this unit into compliance with city codes? A letter from your service technician just does not cut it. Does anyone from the city have an opinion or solution?

Richard J. Augustine

R.J. Augustine & Associates

 

Compressor Noise Emanating from US Post Office Building

To: City of Sarasota, Richard Augustine, Andrew Marcus

Today, the motor of the cooling tower was replaced – finally sound levels are back to levels that we were used to prior to May of this year when we first engaged Mr. Marcus and the City and notified them of elevated sound levels.

For months, we were told the AC company hired and paid assured that the unit is working normally, or nothing can be done because it’s below ordinance limits.

Why then would a repair reduce the noise back to what it was prior to May?

Clearly, it goes to show that the unit was not in good working order for 7 months and the city stood idle throughout this ongoing ordinance violation until first the fan assembly and then the motor finally gave up. Unfortunately for us, they sure didn’t go quietly.

This “hysteria” as Mr. Marcus would like to call it, or “damaging impact to the right of quiet enjoyment of our home, well-being and health” as my lawyer would classify it, could have been dealt with swiftly, but Mr. Marcus chose a different route. Even as the unit was on its last legs, screeching at excessive levels, no action was taken or forced. Disappointing all around.

Thomas Frey

Sarasota

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