77.4 F
Longboat Key
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Letters to the Editor week of April 15, 2022

Emergency concerns

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Debra Williams

I hope that this email finds you well.  I am writing to you because I do not know who to discuss a serious concern I and many LBK residents have.

On Thursday, April 7th, we were having some touchup paint done by a painter we use quite often.  He fell off of his ladder- he was unable to move and in serious pain.  My husband called 911 and our fabulous Ambulance crew showed up and stabilized him.  They then headed off to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

I was off Island at the time, on Bee Ridge Road by US 41 and tried desperately to get home…I was stuck at the bridge for close to 20 minutes. The traffic coming over the bridge from LBK was practically at a standstill.  All of a sudden, I saw the ambulance getting through- I believe it took at least 40-50 minutes for them to get to the hospital.  Now, his injuries, while awful- a broken scapula, dislocated shoulder, cracked ribs and damaged eye socket were not life threatening, I and many others have very serious concerns about the ability in a true medical emergency to get to the hospital on a timely basis.

It is no secret that the residents of LBK are an aging population and there is a groundswell of residents that want and need a helipad on the Island- perhaps 2 so that the northern part has quick access to Blake Memorial and one on the southern part of the Island for Sarasota Memorial.  We support the life of nesting turtles, saving seabirds, the new and fantastic firehouse etc.  The point is- Have we really taken a serious look at how to save the actual lives of residents on this Island?

The next question is “where”?  How about the land behind Publix (do we really need a cultural center? Sarasota is a gigantic cultural center!!!)).  This problem requires creative thought. Perhaps before the firehouse was built, they could have considered a helipad on top?  You could build a dock out over the water for a helipad…where there is a will there is a way. We suggest that instead of telling us “why you can’t” you figure out “how you can”.

Carol Kalikow

Longboat Key

 

Emergency concerns

To: Carol Kalikow

Thank you for your email.  I am sorry to hear about your painter and hope he will make a full recovery. I had the opportunity to discuss this issue with Tom Harmer, our town manager. On Longboat Key, we have the ability to land a helicopter in various locations – parking lots, GMD, etc. If the EMT service deems it necessary, it can be requested at any time. EMS service feels that getting off the island to the hospitals hasn’t been a problem. In the case you mentioned the transport time was 26 minutes.

I hope this information is helpful.  Please feel free to reach out to Tom Harmer (tharmer@longboatkey.org) if you would like to discuss further.

Debra Williams

Commissioner

Longboat Key

Emergency concerns

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Debra Williams

Thanks for getting back to me- I believe their time is different from mine since I count when we called 911, they arrived etc. If there is an option to land a helicopter that is great but seems to be a closely held secret- no one I know is aware of it- that might be a good “PR” move to somehow get the message out.

Carol Kalikow

Longboat Key

 

Cannon Homes Builder

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

I am so tired of Cannon Homes sub-contractors starting work early or working after five at 660 Cedar Street, that I don’t have the energy to call the town anymore.

The town is aware of the frequent flagrant violation of town ordinances, yet little is done to effectively protect taxpayers from contractor abuses.

As another island resident pointed out, in a recent town email, this is the noisiest community I have ever lived in, with poorly controlled construction noise and lawn cutting incursions many times a week.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Cannon Homes Builder

To: Gene Jaleski

Other than a police stakeout, all we can do is respond to resident calls if the time limit rules are being violated.  It’s a pain in the neck, I know, but maybe a few fines will change behaviors.  As you are aware, the other noise/pollution issues are in the works.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Planning session suggestions

To: Longboat Key Commission

Thank you for your service to the homeowners of Longboat Key.

I apologize for the email, unfortunately I had a work meeting and could not attend the last Town Commission meeting to share this message.  So I appreciate your attention to this email.

As you conduct your strategic planning session, I ask that you consider the following suggestion:

1. Dedicate a higher percentage of town employee time to maintaining existing infrastructure (roads, bike lanes, walking paths, sewer lines, canals, beaches, storm water drains and backflow valves).

2. Reduce the number of projects that town employees are responsible for, so they can deliver better results.

3. Make it standard operating procedure to evaluate new requests against the portfolio of existing (in process and slated) projects before investing employee and commissioner time and energy.  Set expectations of when the town can engage with those new ideas such that it will not distract from the existing work pipeline.

Why do I make this request?  Well I have spent more time on Longboat Key in the last 3 years and my observations show poorly managed projects, declining infrastructure and a never ending list of “shiny new projects” demanding staff time.   I imagine the town employees have a much longer list of examples.   But here are just a few of my observations:

1. There is inconsistent quality in the undergrounding project.  The first phase on the south end looks lovely and most boxes are hidden by landscaping.  The second phase is not so pretty.  And the third phase in Spanish Main is an embarrassment.  I have no idea what happened that resulted in such inconsistent results, but I ask that you find out and make sure it is corrected going forward.   I am thinking it is too many projects assigned to the staff so they do not have the energy and ability to stand up for the town and property owners.

a. I hope you will immediately see what has happened in Spanish Main and find a way to work with the HOA and FPL to move the transformers to the rear of the property where the current power lines are located. This community was an undergrounded community and now there are boxes in the tiny front yards.  It reflects very poorly on the town.

2. Roads are cracked and have pot holes. The road grade report that was conducted by a town employee shows many areas with bad roads, similar to prior year reports. Let’s get our roads fixed and paved.  We pay A+ taxes so let’s have A+ roads.

3. Bike lanes on GMD are so bumpy that they are almost dangerous. I will not bike in them, so that puts me on the pathway and makes the walkers unhappy. Fix the bike lanes now and do not wait on the “GMD reimagined” project.  (I realize it is a state road and you are probably trying to get the state to pay for the reimagined design but how many years will it take to get the easements/land for the second path across private property)

4. You committed to dredging the canals and published a schedule and then suddenly it cannot happen.  How did that ball drop?  Following red tide the sea grass was at an all-time low, it was the perfect time to measure for replacement, but that did not happen. Please understand why it happened and how you should change staff priorities going forward.  I am guessing the staff were responding to requests related to new projects.

5. The seawall at Bayshore park is falling apart.  Why is this not being fixed?  If you cannot fix the existing infrastructure, how can you dedicate resources to building new infrastructure that you will not maintain?

In my professional experience when an organization gets to the point where maintenance/operational work is deferred in order to focus on new projects, they need to implement a project greenlighting process.  This process will take into consideration all staff activities before greenlighting a new project.   I highly encourage the Town to take a wholistic view of the work of the employees before committing employee time to new projects.  It seems to me, that the town is focusing on shiny new objects to the detriment of the existing infrastructure.  Thank you for your consideration of this request as you create the “new project” list for the town.

Blythe Jeffers

Longboat Key

 

Greer Island

To: Longboat Key Vice Mayor Maureen Merrigan

Sand spit at the LE dock. I had a nice meeting with BJ Bishop and we discussed the issues of the “Greer Sand Spit” at the Lands End dock. I am sending you both my last Photoshopped aerial of the Greer Sand Spit and what I propose be designated as the Greer Nature Preserve. I have made this aerial Photoshopped photo after several conversations with the two of you. I understand that this is mostly a Manatee County issue and that they are handling it in their own way. I suggest that we all look at this aerial and make suggestions as to how it can be best designed and managed in order to make the beach safe and useful to the public. The spit is part natural and part man made. It is mostly a by-product of the beach renourishment projects of the past 30-40 years and especially the last 5 years. I understand that the Manatee County Commission has been delegated the responsibility of managing it according to agreements and documents from 1960, 1970 and 1980s. As Longboat Key Commissioners you are only able to offer suggestions on how the Manatee County Commission should manage this public area. I was introduced to the idea of dredging a channel by Maureen about 5 years ago. She introduced herself as someone who kept her boat in the Greer Bay and she was worried that her access to the pass was being closed off by the spit of land accreting close to the LE dock. After discussing this proposal with some family and friends we decided that it was a reasonable request. I told Maureen that we would not oppose the dredging of the channel in order to facilitate the people who had boats in that small Greer Bay to be able to get in and out. Our main concern was that it be small and not a large project. The purpose of the channel was stated as something that would allow these few boats and people to be able to get in and out and for the manatees to have an established entrance to get in and out of the bay. Our only requests were that the dredging not make it shallower around our LE dock and that we were kept in the loop of information about the project. We also asked that it be treated as a nature preserve with regulations and signage that would state no alcohol, no dogs, no littering, no loud music, no molesting the wildlife, etc. As soon as the channel was dredged we had many motorboats using it to beach their boats and they often completely blocked the beach and channel with their boats and bow and stern anchor lines so that no boats could use the channel, the manatees even had a hard time navigating the gauntlet and people had a hard time walking on the beach. Soon we found jet skis coming in groups of 5 or 6 at a time with a lead boat bring them as a commercial operation out of Cortez. The channel has filled in in the past 3 years and you all are talking about dredging another one. I would like for you to consider the cost to be about 1 million dollars as the costs are more than just what is paid to the contractor dredging the channel. Someone said that it should be 1 ft. deeper and 10-20 feet wider and go back in the same location. It seems that this is a maintenance dredging which will probably have to take place every 3 years. Are you ready to commit one million dollars to do this dredging every 3 years in perpetuity? We would like to see you remove the additional dredging artifacts of sand around and in front of the LE dock that are not in the channel itself. We would like to see you come up with a reasonable and enforceable plan and design for this area with proper signs and enforcement. It is obvious that a new bridge will be built soon. The plan that you make should anticipate the new bridge being built and these plans for the channel and the signage should work with the new bridge after it is built. People say the new bridge is 5-10 years away from now. If you want a plan for this beach that is manageable and enforceable all you need to do is look north to another Manatee County Public Beach, Coquina Beach. They have many signs saying no boats, no swimming, dangerous current, etc. This could be your model with small exceptions here and there. What are the problems that you should anticipate for your regulations and signs? Again, look North to Coquina Beach rules- No alcohol, no dogs, no boats beaching, no littering, no spearguns, no jumping from the bridge, no trespassing on private property, no motorized vehicles on the beach, no loud music, etc. Most of these are already laws that just need to be enforced. I appreciate the work that you two have been doing and am reminded of a saying from my mother which is- “Even this will pass.”

Tom Mayers

Longboat Key

 

Greer Island

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

I just finished a visit at the Mayer, Saunders, etc. property.  Motorboats had anchors 25-40’ up in the sand and also off sterns blocking what bit of Chanel is left by their dock. The buildup of sand that increases by the day has rendered the docks at Lands End unusable.  It was almost impossible for kayaks to navigate thru the small, shallow area left.

Why Manatee County removed the signs is beyond me keeping motorboats and jet skis off this area.

A channel must be opened and sufficient buildup of sand removed so we are not causing more damage to this property.

No powerboats should be allowed on this spit created by renourishment of gulf beaches.

That part of Greer Island should be no motors. Swimming only away from the access to the Gulf and Greer must be a sanctuary. As I was leaving a power boat arrived and turned their dog loose with the few birds fleeing.

I am appalled at what has been endured by our residents – this is a Monday- heaven knows what the weekends look like. Let’s fix this now.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Greer Island

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

The staff and Town attorney have been working on options as a follow-up to the motorized vessel exclusion zone discussion with the Commission and following up on Manatee County’s notice that they had to remove the signs that were installed to set aside a portion of the spit for kayaks and paddleboards.

See current efforts below.  They include installing Town signage to restrict navigational access to the Lagoon, requesting FWC Signage to limit boating outside Canal 1A within the lagoon (due to depth of water), and working with FWC for a designation of a non-motorized vessel public bathing/swimming area for a portion of the spit that may be another way to provide a safer environment and prohibit motorized boats from beaching in that area. In the meantime, the Police Department is monitoring and responding to any reports of boats that may be anchoring in a way that would restrict access to the Lagoon/Canal 1A.

In addition, Public Works has been working with the Army Corps of Engineer (ACOE) for the issuance of the Spit Management Plan permit.  The staff has been following up with the ACOE to see what path was the quickest to allow the Town to also immediately mobilize and remove some of the existing spit.  The ACOE has notified the Town that the best approach to deal with the current conditions is to request a reissuance of the emergency spit removal permit that would allow for a limited section to be cut out and stockpiled in the area.  That request has been submitted for approval and the staff is preparing to proceed as soon as possible.

The longer-term spit management plan will remove a significant portion of the spit, but that effort will require additional time to solicit, award, and schedule the work.  Some of the current efforts will likely have be readdressed once the longer term spit management plan work is implemented as sand conditions east of the bridge will change.

I will share additional updates as they are available.  In addition, the staff will be providing a public update at your next Workshop (May 16th) and anticipate at that time to have a draft ordinance for a motorized vessel exclusion ready for Commission consideration.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

Motorized Vessel Exclusion Areas Status Update

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Providing a brief status update on staff’s continuing efforts regarding Motorized Vessel Exclusion Areas and public safety, in the Greer Lagoon & eastern Greer Island spit areas:

Public Works will be installing signage on land near the currently narrowed channel entrance to Canal 1A. The signage will note the Florida statute that prohibits beached or anchored boats from interfering with navigation and access to the Canal 1A & Greer lagoon area.  With or without the signage, law enforcement has a number of enforcement options including issuance of citations for impeding navigation, if warranted.

Staff is working with FWC to potentially provide uniform waterway marker(s) in the Greer Island lagoon area to identify the shallow area, outside of the Canal 1A channel. The signage would warn boaters of shallow water. As we’ve come to learn, establishing boating restricted zones can require substantial supporting data to be considered by FWC. The installation of hazard markers would provide some immediate action to address concerns about impacts to sea grasses and wildlife and wouldn’t foreclose the Town’s ability to continue to potentially make a case for an exclusion designation for the lagoon.

In the eastern area Greer Island, north of the channel access to Canal 1A, staff will be working with FWC to get their review of a potential motorized vessel exclusion area. The most likely designation to pursue will be under the statutory category of a “public bathing/swimming area.” The to-be-determined area would be located north of the channel access to Canal 1A & east of the Longboat Pass bridge.

Per the Town Commission direction at their February 22nd Regular Workshop, staff anticipates bringing these back for their consideration, including a draft ordinance for the motorized vessel exclusion area, at the May 16th Regular Workshop meeting.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

We can solve the problem

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

I have submitted to the town a basic business model that enables rapid adoption of battery powered lawn equipment.  As for construction site gas generators and compressors, I thought that had been resolved by adding a construction site FPL temporary power pole as part of obtaining a building permit. As I have previously notes, not a single subcontractor has opted to use their gas powered equipment, since the temporary FPL power pole was installed at 660 Cedar Street.

The ethical and legal aspects of the town creating a PPP, a public private partnership, with local lawn care companies, is well defined both in Florida and county statutes.

By the town facilitating the conversion from gas to electric, the operating costs of the lawn maintenance companies will be reduced by 25 percent. A PPP will actually make things better, not worse for these small business operators.

I estimate that it with require one point five million dollars to supply enough lawn care companies with the best commercial lawn maintenance equipment to service the entire island.

I have previously submitted an arrangement where the subsidized companies remit to the town the money they would have had to spend on gasoline, which could be as much as $8,000 per mower per year.

I believe my proposal is an optimal solution for both the lawn maintenance companies and our residents.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Complaint received

To: Longboat Key Commission

At the last Commission Meeting there was a question about a new piece of equipment purchased by the Key Club and concerns about the sound levels and if they were blowing leaves into their ponds.

We did reach out to the Club to let them know of the concern and seek more info about the equipment. See note back from the Key Club regarding their new tractor and their new leaf and debris vacuum.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

Complaint received

To: Longboat Key Club General Manager Rick Konsavage

Rick, at the Town Commission meeting earlier this week a concern was brought up about the noise level of a new piece of equipment purchased by the Key Club.  We were told that there is a new orange tractor that pulls a new large leave blower that is very loud and starts early in the morning.  The example referred to work on the Islandside Golf Course.  It was also mentioned that the tractor/blower pushes all of the leaves in the ponds.  We were asked to look into the noise levels and the practice of diverting leaves into the ponds.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Complaint received

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

The new unit is a leaf and debris Vacuum designed to keep debris from the ponds and lakes. All new equipment meets below 65db decibel rating along with emissions. The unit starts operation in the middle of the course and then works its way towards perimeter by late morning.

As we all know, we are very conscious of our surrounding neighbors, but we do need to ensure the integrity of the course for the benefit of the home owners, residents and Golfers of Longboat Key.

Someone has given you miss-information.   They are welcome to ride the new piece of equipment is they like too! Have a great day!

Rick Konsavage

Managing Director

Longboat Key Club & Resort

 

Question Regarding Noise Making Construction Activity

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Tom- I received the following question from a Commissioner, which was received from one of their constituents: “…if the St. Regis was given special permission to begin work around 7 a.m. every morning. Back-up beepers and other construction noise wakes them up about 7:15 each day.”

No special permission has thus far been granted for noise making construction activity. We are aware that the over that over the 30+ months life of the project there are anticipated to be extended hours requests received for activities such as large concrete pours.  The Town’s Noise Ordinance generally prohibits construction noise between 5p & 8a, and on Sundays & holidays, with opportunities to seek waivers.  We have reached out to the contractor providing a reminder of these limitations.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

St. Armands Circle – nuisance

To: Sarasota City Commission

Mayor, Vice-Mayor, City Commissioners, City manager, and City attorney, good morning, please let me share a story with you from last evening on St. Armands Circle:

Thank all of you for all you do all the time. I had a reservation at Crab & Fin for dinner at 8:00pm. On my way through the Circle, we drove by a live amplified singer in the median across from Columbia and Venezia. We could hear the lady singing and the music playing from inside my SUV with the windows up. I parked my SUV on South Blvd. in the free parking area well past the Michael Saunders & Company office. When we got out of the SUV to walk the block down to Crab & Fin; we heard a live band from right there. I assumed it was the entertainment at the Whiskey Barrel. As we walked toward Crab & Fin, the music was louder and louder. But when we walked by the Whiskey Barrel, there was no band, no music, and only four patrons in the entire restaurant. The live band, consisting of two guitar players, a drummer, and a singer, all with microphones on poles and all with amplifiers were playing in the median across from Atchley Realty and across from the Mini-Donut store, in plain site from Crab & Fin.

Thanks to Mr. MacDonald, owner of Crab & Fin, we had an excellent table outside in the front. We sat down at Crab & Fin, and we could not hear ourselves talk to one another at the table because the music was so loud. Crab & Fin’s piano player on the sidewalk was playing, but no one in the exterior café dining area could hear him. Crab & Fin pays this person to play the piano. They the city for their outdoor dining permit, and they pay their rent, utilities, employees, and BID taxes, and this money paid is being drowned out by an illegal live band, who has no permit, no license and no limitations, no rent, no BID taxes, or these performers do no have to do anything to be there and pay anything to be there. And they are allowed to be there, in the public right-of way. What if this happened in the front of your home on the public street outside your house? Or if you owned a business and this happened in front of your business, or in front of your office? What would you do? What can Crab & Fin and all the other businesses on St. Armands do?

Please explain to me what is wrong with this picture? What has St. Armands Circle come to? There is a noise ordinance in this City that shut down the Patio, Ruby Tuesday’s, Vali’s, and has Tommy Bahama’s musician playing inside with the doors and windows shut. Crab & Fin, The Daiquiri Deck, Cha Cha Cocoanuts, Le Colonne, all pay performers to play on their property, and none of those are amplified music. I remember when St. Armands Circle was open until 2:00am and it was busy for all, having a wonderful time and enjoying life. But all that changed when the city instituted the noise ordinance. But now, these freeloaders can set up on City property, on public right-of-way, and many times block the sidewalk. On every median is a live musician playing amplified music for free. Not only are they there for free, but they are collecting donations in a hat or bucket. Is this not panhandling and is panhandling also illegal on City property? Please explain to me how this is possible? Where is the enforcement and the justice in this? I just do not understand, I am sorry.

I called the Sarasota Police Department 941.316.1199 telephone number. The dispatch answered that this was a recorded line. I told him that a live band was playing amplified music in the median in that same location that I just described above. I gave him my name and gave him my cell telephone number. I even told him that if the officer needed to or wanted to talk to me, to telephone me or walk over to Crab & Fin. He asked me for the address, and I gave it to him, and then he asked me what City I was in. I told him Sarasota, FL 34236. I almost dropped the telephone because I was in shock. Who is answering the Sarasota Police Department dispatch line and where are they answering that line from? What happens when an emergency situation telephones 911?

About twenty minutes later, the music was not able to be heard any longer. I stopped eating and walked over to see why. They were still playing and singing but, no amplifiers. This was a very pleasing sound. And I thank God that dispatch did send an officer out and that officer told them to turn off their amplifiers. Thank you, Sarasota Police Department. I am only sorry that I did not see the officer to thank he or she personally. I said nothing to the band and went back over and finished my dinner. The piano player played music and the Crab & Fin patrons enjoyed his music, as did our group. Silence is sometimes truly golden. It turned out to be a wonderful evening on St. Armands Circle until we eventually closed Crab & Fin, walked back to my SUV, in quiet, I might add and went home.

In my opinion, the City of Sarasota, since they will not enforce the City rules and regulations in the current noise ordinance, should put a locked cover on all City electrical outlets on St. Armands Circle lamp posts or receptacles that can only be accessed by a person with a key to unlock them. When the city or a licensed, permitted entity who has the right to use the city electricity wants to use it, they can be given the key, or the outlet can be unlocked for this period of time and relocked again when the situation has concluded. This is a very easy solution to this problem, and it should not be too costly, in my opinion. And, if these performers are not allowed to panhandle, they will stop coming to St. Armands Circle to set up, play and do so. I have never seen this situation in Downtown Sarasota. Why is that?

I do not know what more that I can write to you, or what else can be done to prevent this. If any of you have a suggestion or you can tell me what to do or who to talk to, please do so? I will gladly meet with any of you, and I would suspect that the owner of Crab & Fin would join me in this quest. I am trying and will try to do what I can do to prevent this from continuing to happen on every median on St. Armands Circle on a nightly basis. It is time that we, the tenants, and the business owners on St. Armands Circle took our Circle back. Thanks again, for all that you all do, take care, enjoy your Easter Holiday, and God Bless!

Andrew Vac

Sarasota

St. Armands Circle – nuisance

To: Andrew Vac

Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful email. I am copying the city manager and city attorney, although I did discuss with the city manager by phone. He will have the appropriate staff respond to what we can and can’t do regarding this situation.

Liz Alpert

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

Parks and playgrounds

To: Sarasota City Commission

My name is Chance Bryan. I own a house on Ringling Blvd and frequent the parks near me a lot. Unfortunately, the maintenance on these parks is horrible. It looks like anytime anything breaks it is just removed instead of fixed. Today, I took my 2 boys to bayfront park to play, however we were very disappointed. Half of the playground is gone. There is a portion of the playground where there used to be a slide, but it’s gone. So basically, kids can climb up it and not get down. There are poles in place that used to hold the slide up that are still there now  I guess for decorations. On the tot lot half of it is gone too. There are places that used to have tubes to crawl in and play that are gone. There are also seats missing with holes in the ground.  All of this, on top of, the water park that never shoots out water. I guess it’s there for show as well.

After leaving Bayfront Park, I went to Payne Park. Of course, the same sad situation. Multiple things broken and instead of being fixed they are either removed, come put on it, or orange plastic fencing. Oh and I forgot, the water rings here, that say they will come on and never do just like Bayfront Park. On the tot lot, the bridge is broken has orange tape around it for at least 6 months. There is another thing right next to it that should have a rope to the top so the little ones can step from one to the other has a cone, which has been there for over a year. Then you head over to the music part where you used to be able to tap the xylophone and tubes to make noise, but the sticks to do it with are gone, taken off. Big surprise. So, no music. Very, very disappointing.

Sarasota is supposed to be a beautiful city with great things to do. How can it be that, if we can’t even repair playgrounds for our children to have fun on. I am attaching pictures to this email to show you how bad it is. My son also said to me McDonald’s does a better job with there place then the city can with its parks.

I hope, and pray that you all can make our city a better place for us and more importantly our children because we are being let down.

Chance Bryan

Sarasota

 

Parks and playgrounds

To: Chance Bryan

I am copying the city manager and parks department director, so the appropriate staff can respond. I agree, our playgrounds should not look like this. Thanks for contacting us.

Liz Alpert

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

Stop County from funding Russian propaganda

To: Sarasota City Commission

I am asking you to stop funding Rumble, a video hosting service that broadcasts official Russian Television propaganda.

We should not allow to sponsor this Putin’s propaganda, while millions of Ukrainians have to leave Ukraine and thousands of innocent Ukrainian citizens were murdered by Russian mongols, led by new Stalin/Hitler: Putin!

Dan Bodnaruk

Venice

 

Stop County from funding Russian propaganda

To: Dan Bodnaruk

Thanks for the email. As far as I know, the City of Sarasota has not funded one penny of Rumble but have copied the City Manager to confirm.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Tumeka Harris

To: Sarasota City Manager Marlon Brown

I apologize for writing again but I did not get a response to my previous email about my concern that Payne Park is in danger of losing Tumeka. Payne Park is not only a beautiful and thriving city park and tennis facility, but it is also a tennis cub. As such, the members expect that the head pro and director will give lessons and drills, for compensation. Tumeka is a highly skilled professional who has a huge following and retention rate at the club. Payne Park will clearly not be the same without her. I believe, with confirmation from a significant number of players, that the tennis facility will be changed and less thriving if the players, who by the way, are happy to pay, lose this opportunity. They will go elsewhere. This will cause the park to lose money. The Park gets a percentage of her lessons and drills. I simply cannot understand what the issue is about compensating an elite professional for her services, especially when the members and pay per play players are willing to pay. Players are not loyal to a club or facility (as you would be making Payne Park tennis), but to their pros. Pros who are brought in to just teach at a facility where the player chooses, are not loyal to place. They can and will take players with them. I have played as a member at many clubs and in my personal experience, when a pro leaves, members follow.

Tumeka brings so much to Payne Park tennis. As I previously wrote, she is an integral part of the Tennis Club and has proven her loyalty and professionalism. She is welcoming and has quite a fan base. She is Payne Park’s biggest asset and will be sorely missed if she leaves.

I implore you to consider your decision which prohibits her from being compensated for her skills as a pro. Every club allows and encourages it. Let’s make Payne Park the best place to play and keep Tumeka. Thank you for your consideration of this very important matter.

Nancy Platkin

Sarasota

  

Tumeka Harris

To: Nancy Platkin

Thank you for email about Ms. Harris. She is an awesome asset to our organization, I agree. City administration regularly reviews employees’ responsibilities and share that with me, but as City Manager, I must determine what works best for the City as a whole and not just the individual employee. Finally, as much as Ms. Harris is welcome here, any decision to remain employed or to leave is totally up to the individual employee weighing all aspects of work/personal life balance. I hope this helps.

Marlon Brown

City Manager

City of Sarasota

  

Magnolia Street Project

To: Sarasota City Manager Marlon Brown, Sarasota City Commissioner Liz Alpert

I’m writing to you both out of an extreme degree of frustration.  A project has been going on that impacts the 1800 – 1900 block of Magnolia Street (the block between Tamiami and Osprey).  While we are not residents on that block, we are property owners.  We reside on Goldenrod, the next street north.

This project involves the installation of a new water line, sidewalk, curb and gutter, and street resurfacing.  While it is understood that nothing may ever be as simple as it may seem, this has evolved into a typical public sector project. It has now gone on for months and months with an undefined conclusion.  We have been tremendously inconvenienced with often an inability to traverse the block, noise, dirt, construction vehicles beeping and buzzing, materials and construction barrels all over the place and still just sitting around.

In recent correspondence from Richard Widner, he advised they still must pour some more concrete, do cleanup and sod the areas between sidewalk and curb, and then mill and resurface the street.  I asked as to when we might see action ( as there hasn’t been a screw turned on this job in weeks ) and a conclusion. I have not yet received any response.  In his message he did mention a possible difficulty in getting concrete.  Sorry, but I’m simply not buying that.  If that is the story provided by your contractor, he’s spreading donkey dust and just working on a job elsewhere.  The amount of concrete required to finish this is miniscule…one drive apron and a small section of sidewalk at the western end.

Meanwhile we’re left with an approximate 6 inch wide and very deep gap between the present street level and new gutter.  While not residing there, I often park a car at the property.  This vehicle has a low suspension and getting in and out of the drive with this gap is quite difficult.  Since there is no end in sight, how about putting some temporary patches in these spots to make for a rather improved ingress and egress.

Since there is only a bit more concrete to pour, why can’t they start and expedite the cleanup and begin treating and sodding the areas between sidewalk and curb?  Why must all wait for this final pour?  In his correspondence, Richard mentioned an issue with this last apron. This certainly isn’t a surprise.  I’m not a civil engineer but you could see this issue coming months ago.  Using it as an excuse now is simply just that…an excuse for poor performance.

I have some projects that I want to undertake at our property but they would be foolish and impractical to begin until all this is finished and the dirt and dust a thing of the past.

You guys are the leaders and bosses.  For goodness’ sake let’s get this mess moving and completed.  For this to drag on for two or three more months is inexcusable and totally unacceptable.

Matt Ruch

Sarasota

Magnolia Street Project

To: Matt Ruch

I apologize for any inconvenience and lack of responsiveness on our part. I have copied the relevant staff to immediately look into the schedule for this job and to respond accordingly. Thanks for sharing.

Marlon Brown

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Magnolia Street Project

To: Matt Ruch

I am sorry for any inconvenience on our part. The date for substantial completion is June 1st. I anticipate we will meet the timeline stated in the notice of construction that was distributed to the residents (see attached), pending any weather delays.

We met with the contractor, and they are having problems getting concrete. This has been an issue not only on this project but also on other projects in the City due to higher demand. We did discuss with the contractor today to modify the sequence of work so that further work can happen while they resolve the concrete issues. This may help the project to be substantially completed earlier than June 1st, pending the concrete issue gets resolved. If I can be of any additional help, please let me know.

Nik Patel

City Engineer

City of Sarasota

 

Noise

To: Sarasota City Commission

The nightly noise makers in Sarasota’s downtown area must have caught up with the fact the city administration is scratching its head over how to enforce ordinances prohibiting unacceptable decibels. The Lords of Loudness are doubling down.

They start by slow cruising past sidewalk cafes on Main Street, selectively and deliberately revving their thunderous motorcycle and muscle car engines causing startled diners both indignation and indigestion. Then, after apparently dividing up the downtown area, they roam Bayfront, Palm, Ringling and adjacent streets demonstrating how to maximize speeding, screeching, roaring and backfiring throughout our growing condo communities. It’s a health issue. And it has become a nightly ordeal for folks as they ready to turn in for the night or are soon jolted out of bed.

Downtown residents understand and accept regular traffic noise. What they’re getting is ‘way over the top. Not what they signed up for in buying these multi-million dollar homes (and beefing up city tax revenues in the process!).

The city needs to get its act together on the law and, if necessary, hire more police and/or ordinance enforcers. Most downtowners might even be okay considering extra taxes, if that provided dedicated extra enforcement, in pursuit of peace and quiet. And a good night’s sleep.

G.A. Nesbitt

Sarasota

 

Noise

To: G.A. Nesbitt

We have just recently authorized the hiring of more police officers. I do not know if they will be assigned to handle traffic noise, but I am copying the city manager so that the appropriate person can respond.

Liz Alpert

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

Pink Floyd Tree in Arlington Park

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch

Like many other neighbors in Arlington Park and beyond, I’m very devastated by the prospect of losing “Pink Floyd” — the incredible, 225-year-old oak tree — along with two other great oaks, at the hands of development. After much back-and-forth on how to protect the tree, I learned today that the owner, MJ Pham Homes, plans to remove the trees next week in order to proceed with development.

Since the City has indicated it cannot afford to purchase the property to add to its parks system, and short of a mass fundraising effort to purchase the property, I wonder if there would be any will on the part of the City Commission to entertain Eminent Domain as a mechanism to protect the trees? One would need to show legitimate public purpose, which I believe would not be difficult, given that Pink Floyd holds priceless educational, historical and natural value. Then there’s the issue of expert witness testimony to set a value for the land, which certainly can’t come anywhere near the $5.5 million proposed by Mr. Pham, who recently purchased the property in its entirety for $825,000.

I hope you and the other Commissioners are as interested in this plight as many of the rest of us, and will look forward to your reply, as time is of the essence.

Pamela Gore Meade

Sarasota

 

Pink Floyd Tree in Arlington Park

To: Pamela Gore Meade

You just delivered some sad news to me. Last I heard, the property owner was going to try save the tree. Ugh! I have copied the City Manager, the president and board members of Arlington Neighborhood Association, and City Staff on this so I can confirm the news and get an update.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Pink Floyd Tree in Arlington Park

To: Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier

Please see related to the use of eminent domain to save the tree on Floyd. I do not know if the public purpose test is applicable. Thoughts?

Marlon Brown

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Pink Floyd Tree in Arlington Park

To: Sarasota City Manager Marlon Brown

Before we get into the weeds regarding the legal issues associated with eminent domain (which I will do in a subsequent email) has the factual representation in Ms. Meade’s email that Mr. Pham will remove Pink Floyd and two other trees been confirmed as accurate?  She does not say how she found out today that it was going to happen.  The last I knew was that Mr. Pham was going to subdivide the property into 4 lots rather than 5 as originally planned.  Can someone please tell me whether Mr. Pham has actually applied for a tree removal permit?

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

 

Pink Floyd Tree in Arlington Park

To: Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier

Good question Bob.

Marlon Brown

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Pink Floyd Tree in Arlington Park

To: Sarasota City Manager Marlon Brown

I am glad to learn that Mr. Pham is still willing to work with the City in an effort to try to preserve this tree so that the City will hopefully not have to discuss the possibility of an eminent domain action.

With that said, I will just mention a few of the basic considerations if eminent domain were to become a possibility.  First, there is now a statutory obligation (under Sec. 73.015 Fla. Stat.) that obliges the City to “attempt to negotiate in good faith with the fee owner of the parcel to be acquired” before initiating a legal action in eminent domain.  This includes a requirement to provide the owner of the property with a written offer and to obtain an appraisal prior to making the offer so that the offer can be based on the appraisal or made with knowledge of the appraised value.  The statute specifically requires that the condemning authority (i.e. the City) “must attempt to reach an agreement regarding the amount of compensation to be paid for the parcel.”  The property owner has to be given 30 days to respond to the City’s written offer of compensation before a suit can be filed.

There are two types of eminent domain actions known as the “slow take” and the “quick take” process.  Under the “slow take” the legal proceeding to acquire the property is initiated but the decision by the governmental authority to actually acquire or not acquire the property is deferred until a jury determines what the just compensation to be paid for the property.  Thus utilizing the slow take process, the City could walk away if the jury determination of just compensation was determined to be excessive.  (However there would be responsibility for defendant’s attorney fees and costs under either alternative.)  Under the “quick take,” the City would be able to acquire title to the property more quickly (estimate of 6 to 8 months minimum), but when the jury subsequently determines the value of the property, the City would have to pay whatever that amount might be, with no opportunity to back away, because the City would become the owner prior to paying just compensation to the prior owner.

Under either the quick take or the slow take, the test for whether there is a public purpose has two parts.  The test is whether the property (1) is necessary (2) to achieve a public purpose.  So, the public purpose is only the second part and the first part would involve a showing of necessity to achieve the public purpose.  We are not aware of any eminent domain cases in Florida that have been brought for the purpose of saving a tree.  However, there have been situations that involve acquisition or attempted acquisition of land for a public park.  Section 73.015, the statute referenced above also requires the City to notify the property owner of “the nature of the project for which the parcel is considered necessary.”  This suggest to me that the statute contemplates that planning a park project comes first and then it is subsequently discovered that acquisition of private land is necessary to accomplish that goal.  Here, I would have a concern that this may be happening the other way around, which might make it more difficult to make the requisite showing of necessity.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

0FansLike
0FollowersFollow
0SubscribersSubscribe
spot_img

Latest Articles