75.8 F
Longboat Key
Sunday, August 14, 2022

Letters to the Editor week of February 25, 2022

Updated Q & A from Theatre on the Green

To: Longboat Key Town Clerk Trish Shinkle

Hello Trish and I hope all is well with you. Attached, for distribution to the Commission, is the updated Q & A about the proposed Black Box.

Please note that additional information and photos are added at the end of the document to further describe the philosophy and uses of Black Box theatres and how they can be either stand alone structures, or incorporated into larger structures. Thank you for your help.

Tom Freiwald

Longboat Key

Proposed MarVista Cell Tower

To: Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Director Allen Parsons

I represent the Chiles Group which owns the MarVista restaurant on the northern end of Longboat Key.   MarVista is the site of one of the oldest structures in historic Longbeach dating back to 1912 (see history at https://www.marvistadining.com/about-us), and was purchased by Ed Chiles in 1989.  As you know, it is a very popular dining site for many Longboat Key residents and visitors.  Several years ago, our company invested several million dollars to renovate MarVista, but in the process we made every attempt to honor its historic legacy.  I think many of our guest will agree that its laid back, understated design fits in well with its surroundings and it is a great complement to the Longbeach community.

When we first heard of the proposed Version cell tower project, we welcomed the news as wireless connectivity on the northern end of Longboat Key is very poor.  When we found out that Verizon decided to place one of the proposed cell towers on the corner of Broadway and Lois Avenue adjacent to our “MarVista” sign, we were deeply disappointed.  We know that everyone wants the benefits of better cell connectivity, but no one wants a cell tower in their “front yard”.  We understand that the proposed tower is in an easement and technically not on our property, but only an engineer could have picked a place of more prominence as it relates to our restaurant – a pimple on the tip of our nose.

We recognize all of the good benefits everyone will receive from enhanced cell service and we are willing to “take one for the team”, but all we ask is that they move the proposed location from its current spot to a new location approximately 20-30 feet down Lois Avenue within the same easement (please see attached), so that it’s not as imposing as the current location.  If this 20-30 foot move cannot be accomplished, we ask your permission to paint “MarVista” on the tower so it looks like we meant to put it there to advertise our establishment.  Please let us know if this small concession can be made.

Brooks O’Hara

Director – RE and Facilities

The Chiles Group

Congratulations Fire Chief

To: Longboat Key Fire Chief Paul Dezzi

Paul, congrats to you along with the women and men of the LBK Fire Rescue team in consistently netting top scores and, this time in a surprise inspection from the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Oversight.  These state inspections are stressful enough when they are scheduled, much less than an unannounced inspection.

The average person has no idea the myriad number of elements involved in these inspections, both physical and documented.

For clarity I’ll pick just one:  Controlled Substances (who even knew that EMS systems carry and administer controlled substances under Fl State certification and the license of a Medical Director?).

Here are just a few of the elements that get scrutinized relating to Controlled Substances: Department policies, current protocols, logs, expired date tracking of controlled  substances inventory, secure storage procedures and requirements, along with quality control and quality assurance updates.

This detail requires a hands-on full team effort.

Speaking as an LBK residential homeowner, I am so proud of Chief Dezzi’s Fire Rescue Department and Interim Police Chief Turner’s department too.  You guys are the best!

Thanks for all you do.

Ed Krepela

Longboat Key

Congratulations Fire Chief

To: Ed Krepela

As always, thank you for the kind words!  You’ve always been so supportive of our department and it is appreciated!

Paul B. Dezzi

Fire Chief

Town of Longboat Key

Temporary Power Pole

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

I want to update information about the cost of installing a temporary FPL power pole at construction sites.

I had previously listed the cost of installing a temporary power pole at 660 Cedar Street, based on information supplied by the owner, as $1,800. I believe this is what John Cannon Homes charged the owner.

I have since found that Maynard Electric on Anna Maria charges $795. I do not know why there is such a large cost discrepancy. There may be other factors I am unaware of.

Additionally, I reached out to Ethan, our outstanding local FPL customer support representative, about hookup after we go underground. He told me the underground hookup fee is around $325. There is no fee for overhead hookup.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

Temporary Power Pole

To: Gene Jaleski

Thanks.  This is on the list mentioned in my previous note.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

Temporary Power Pole

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

As you may already know, I regard this commission as being one of the more beneficial commissions in the thirty-five years I have been on this island.

Both the town staff and the commission are responsible for revitalizing the village. Since the commission created Resident Permit Parking, and returned the streets to the village residents, there has been an explosion in property values in the village, which in turn is energizing renovations and new construction. I believe all this is the result of some incredible efforts from village residents with great leadership.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

Hans Brinker

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Reading the stream of town emails pertaining to flooding in various neighborhoods, I am wondering if the town can, or even should, try to be the proverbial Hans Brinker, and somehow prevent future flooding in low lying parts of the island.

A dozen years ago the town spent almost $300,000 to install “improved drainage” at various places in the village. The new system was tied into the old storm drain pipes, which leaked, allowed seawater incursion and were below the Mean-High-Tide-Line. The new storm drain addition was likewise below the MHTL. The result is a mostly useless public expense, that is four-fifths full of seawater most of the time.

When the land elevation is below the seawater level, drainage is impossible, and no underground drainage system will make things better.

At one time the commission considered installing pumps in the village to alleviate flooding, similar to what was done at St. Armands Circle. This approach may work for heavy rain events, which may occur several times a year.

Of course the root of the problem is most likely sea rise, as a result of global warming. Ninety-nine percent of the scientific community does not see an end to sea rise so long as global warming continues. Yet the commission so far has not addressed what our community might do to lessen of greenhouse gas emissions that cause rising global temperatures.

If all communities act in a similar manner, global warming will continue and flooding on Longboat will only get worse.

The commission might spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to raise street levels a few inches, throughout all the low lying neighborhoods. Or they might install pumps, which again are needed in all the low lying neighborhoods. But soon, the flooding will be steady-state, as sea levels rise and will overwhelm any near-term remediation.

Hans Brinker did not literally stick his finger in a dike in Holland. But he did warn the people of pending doom.

It might be more effective, less expensive and more long-term to address our community’s contribution to global warming and how we can be part of the solution, instead of being part of a worsening problem.

Pass building codes to make our houses more energy efficient.

Promote clean energy alternatives such as arcadia.com and solar in residential neighborhoods.

Change the building permit process to always make FPL electric power available at all construction sites.

Promote using geothermal heat pumps in residential and commercial structures. Use groudwater temperature to our advantage.

Lend $1.5 million to on-island lawn maintenance companies to convert to battery power equipment.

Why the commission chooses to spend $5 million+ on a town center, when a $1.5 million loan to local lawn maintenance companies, to convert to clean and quiet battery powered equipment, that would greatly reduce both air pollution and noise, is beyond my comprehension.

If the town wants a Band-Aid for all the low lying areas on the island, a combination of raised streets and pumps might alleviate some of the problems for a while. However, when the seawater level reaches the roads, any form of remediation is useless. This will happen if global warming continues.

I guess there might be some fiscal justification for spending public funds to address some homeowner problems, since we spend tax dollars to renourish beaches that we are not allowed to visit. But public funds should be spent wisely.

The old saying “a stitch in time” might apply to humanity’s current dilemma. It might be far less costly, and far more effective, to halt and even reverse global warming, than to clean up the damage.

If we do nothing to help, then we will have to retreat.

If everyone is waiting for everyone else to fix the problem, then what?

The commission needs to find ways of helping through leadership, education and action.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

Hans Brinker

To: Gene Jaleski

A new, community-wide environmental initiative headed by Support Services Director Carolyn Brown was announced at our Commission meeting on Monday, which was complemented by Terry Driver’s commentary on behalf of the environmental Dream Team that will be working to advise the Town in a constructive manner.  Carolyn will work with all department heads to continue to prioritize the many environment-related issues we face throughout the community, including all those that you have enumerated over time.

As for sea level rise, we are about to receive the final report of a multi-year study contracted by the Town on this subject.  As a low-lying barrier island, we are acutely aware that we need to address both its causes and effects.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

Water main break

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Water main repaired, full pressure restored.  No boil water notice required.  Barricades are set with road base in the hole. Additional roadway and area clean up to happen tomorrow.

Road paving repair to follow when we can schedule.

Isaac Brownman

Public Works Director

Longboat Key

Water main break

To: Longboat Key Commission

The staff is on scene working on an emergency water main break on Putter Lane in Country Club Shores.  Crews have accessed the leak (in the roadway) and will be working to repair the pipe.  At this point they have not determined if a boil water notice will be necessary but they will be communicating with the residents in the area.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

FDOT presentation follow-up

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Happy to hear yesterday that our three busiest cross walks on the Key will get an upgrade in lighting and could be prioritized on the FDOT schedule.  Their multi-year timeline, though, is difficult to rationalize.

Since this is a hot topic for many residents, wanted to re-emphasize a few comments:

As mentioned by my fellow Commissioners during the meeting yesterday with FDOT; people loaded down with chairs, coolers, towels, etc. and crossing from their condo driveway to a designated beach access, are not walking 50 ft. or more out of the way to use a crosswalk that doesn’t connect either.  The same applies to beach front owners headed to docks on the bayside.  We have seen this again and again at many of our current cross walks.

I do agree with FDOT that lighting is important where there is high pedestrian traffic (especially at night).  Unfortunately, where there is high foot traffic and where FDOT ultimately installs a GMD cross walk are often not exactly the same.  So rather than spend taxpayer money to add street lights to future crosswalk areas that won’t be utilized or installed, it might make more sense to put the lights where people are currently crossing and will continue to cross.

Once public works has the exact FDOT locations identified for future crosswalks, please send that information so it can be reviewed relevant HOA/Condo Associations.  There were 3 generally located high pedestrian traffic areas on the north end (Whitney beach, Wake Island Road, Broadway) identified by FDOT.

Also, is there any way to get FDOT better connected on the Broadway roundabout – they seemed to be unaware of our Town efforts and needs there?

Maureen Merrigan

Commissioner

Longboat Key

Peace & Justice Report – WSLR+Fogartyville

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer, Town Attorney Maggie Mooney

Here is the link to the February 16th legal program that was on local radio.  Many residents listened in which, again, prompted questions about Ohana.

The program on beach privatization is the second half of the program so it starts around minute 32.  The quick mention of LBK is closer to minute 58.  You may have to select the February 16th program under “Read More.”

Maureen Merrigan

Commissioner

Longboat Key

Peace & Justice Report – WSLR+Fogartyville

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Maureen Merrigan

We recently received the attached request for a temporary easement. Our Board members are relatively new and are not aware of past requests similar to this document. Is this routine or something new?

Also, I wasn’t aware of re-nourishment project scheduled in our area in 2022. Is there more re-nourishment planned.

Rob Hongen

Longboat Key

Peace & Justice Report – WSLR+Fogartyville

To: Rob Hongen

Had a chance to ask about this at the Commission Meeting yesterday, as a follow-up to Rob’s note below (and our call, Debbie, yesterday).

The introductory letter language is a bit confusing, as there are no 2022 beach re-nourishment projects currently planned.

The document is simply to update and make current the traditional temporary easements the Town has with all beach front property owners for the next 10 years for future re-nourishment projects.

Paul – maybe put a note out to LBK North Reps (beach side) if you also are getting questions.

Maureen Merrigan

Commissioner

Longboat Key

Village flooding

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Maureen Merrigan

Is there a reason why the Village wasn’t included in this flooding assessment?  I always think the Village suffers as much as Sleepy Lagoon and Buttonwood due to flooding, but I’m not sure of this.   Maybe the Village is in a different category?  Maybe the Village is included in the assessment but just wasn’t noted in BJ’s email?  In any event, the Village has suffered very significantly due to past flooding and many would appreciate any relief that is possible.

Pete Rowan

Longboat Key

Village flooding

To: Pete Rowan

I believe the only “assessment” is of 2 PW projects currently underway to see if those specific interventions and costs make sense for other areas of the Key (similar to “assessments” of the WS Valves in the Village).  This includes a section of Buttonwood and also Lyons Lane  – but do not believe these are assessments of entire neighborhoods.   

I am not aware of any formal flooding assessments of entire neighborhoods, outside of the sea level rise study, which looks at the entire Key and includes the Village.  Feel free to call into Public Works on this for more info.

I know from discussions with Tom, that the staff is well aware of the low-level areas of the Key and flood prone areas (e.g. Village).  We should have a Commission meeting update on the next phase of the sea level and sustainability study in the next few months.  That should be good timing for me to also ask about what we are learning from the two projects above (although probably too soon to tell) and our future plans to address street flooding.

Maureen Merrigan

Commissioner

Longboat Key

Village flooding

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Maureen Merrigan

Hi Maureen.  Thanks for the explanation.  Makes sense and hope relief can be found at the pilot sites.

Pete Rowan

Longboat Key

Village flooding

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Maureen Merrigan

Commissioner Merrigan, thanks for copying me.  Just some additional background info for Pete.

As mentioned, the Town is well aware of the low lying areas on the Key and those areas that are impacted by bay waters during higher tides and from storm events.  Several years ago the Town prioritized the Village from a flooding standpoint and installed the new WaStop valves there first and took other action to improve the drainage system to help mitigate some of the flooding issues.  Obviously, due to the low lying areas in the Village, it remains and area vulnerable to flooding conditions and will continue to be an area that is monitoring and part of the Town’s long range planning.  There are other low lying areas on the island that the Town is also evaluating and making incremental improvements.

After steps with the Village were taken, the Town did evaluate the needs to address historical flooding issues on Lyon’s Lane.  The Town is now implementing some changes to that area to help improve those conditions.

The assessments that Commissioner Bishop mentioned are the next areas- after the Village, and Lyons Lane- that the Town is evaluating.  The staff is currently evaluating the Buttonwood and Sleeping Lagoon areas and will be reviewing any possible recommendations to help mitigate some of the issues they are facing similar to what occurred in the Village previously.  Those areas were prioritized and funded in last year’s budget process.

We recognize that the historical impacts of flooding in the Island’s low lying areas is not an  easy or quick or inexpensive fix.  As mentioned, the Town has an island wide sea level rise study in process- that will be completed later this year and include recommendations on further mitigation strategies for the Town to consider.   I would imagine that sea level rise will help us further prioritize future actions.    

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

Erosion Control Line clarification

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Maureen Merrigan

One interesting note in there is that it talks only about the MHWL.

Mooney seemed to say that the Erosion Control Line (ECL) is now the proper demarcation, instead of MHWL, but I have not found where she got that.  Maureen, do you think you can get that clarification from her?

Georges Kaufman

Longboat Key

Erosion Control Line clarification

To: Georges Kaufman

Spoke to our Town attorney, Maggie Mooney, yesterday to get more clarification on why we use an ECL and others do not.

As I understand it, the Town uses the ECL because we have engineered beaches and that is the designation we decided to use many years ago (to delineate public and private beachfront property) for our beach re-nourishment processes.

The ECL was established on the northern section of the Longboat Key beaches (including at 6633 Gulf of Mexico Drive) in 1977.  The ECL was set after a mean high water line survey that was accepted by the State (Governor and Cabinet acting as the Trustees of Florida’s Internal Improvement Trust Fund) at a public meeting.  When that acceptance occurred the ECL was established and superseded the mean high water line.   (The ECL for the portion of the Town beaches south of 6633 Gulf of Mexico Drive was established by the State in 1993 following the same process).

The State determines the ECL and the Town, years ago, decided to use that delineation.  Florida Statutes 161.191 is the statute that specifically makes the ECL controlling over the MHWL/common law.

So as it relates to Ohana, it appears, among the many issues that property has presented, we also are dealing with an unintended consequence of the ECL decision.

Maggie relayed that some other coastal communities use the ECL designation (instead of the MHWL). She noted that several cities in Pinellas County (ie, Indian Shores, Indian Rocks, St. Pete Beach) have ECLs.  The State FDEP (Beaches and Shores Department) would likely be best able to identify all of the coastal communities that rely upon an ECL v. MHWL.

I believe we are publishing on the Town’s website a Q&A sheet from the Ohana discussion, so that too should be helpful with additional questions from neighbors.

Maureen Merrigan

Commissioner

Longboat Key

House Bill 325 Short term rental pending legislation

To: Longboat Key Commission

As a follow up to Commissioner Bishop’s inquiry during today’s Commission meeting, attached for the Town Commission’s information is a copy of the following:

HB 325 (as originally filed);

CS/HB 325 (the adopted bill amendment) modifying certain pre-emption provisions within HB 325; and Staff Report for HB 325.

In summary, the Town’s grandfathered ordinance (that regulates the duration and frequency of short term rentals in residentially zoned property) that existed prior to June 1, 2011, remains intact. This legislation does not impair the Town’s existing ordinance.   

However, a new pre-emption is created by this bill relating to rental regulation licensing programs.  While the bill allows governments to adopt such rental registration programs this legislation specifies what that registration program can require of property owners and collect from local governments as a fee.  The bill would allow pre-existing registration programs and fee schedules that exist prior to the legislation to continue.  Presently the amended bill is within the House Ways and Means Committee and can only proceed if passed out of this committee, unless the Speaker wants to advance the bill to the House floor.

Presently there are only two and a half weeks left of the Legislative Session. Session will end on or before March 11, 2022.  If you have any further questions about this legislation please let me know.

Maggie D. Mooney

Town Attorney

Longboat Key

Update – Environmental Issues Update

To: Board of Buttonwood Harbor Association

The Town Commission in workshop today reviewed the environmental issues that included assessment of Buttonwood and Sleepy Lagoon flooding issues.

At the Commission’s retreat in October we (the Town Commission) authorized staff to hire an engineer to evaluate the flooding issues in Buttonwood & Sleepy Lagoon.  I am pleased to report that Kimley/Horn has been retained and is currently doing an assessment including a survey of the areas most heavily impacted by flooding.  Some of you may have seen the survey company out working.  Kimley/Horn was successful in expediting the survey.  Due to the crazy real estate market, getting surveys done quickly is very difficult.

Many thanks to the Town Staff and the Commission for working on this issue quickly to assess the issue as we have been working on the problem for over three years with the help of Dave Bishop and the former Board of Buttonwood.

Finally, the developer of 597 Buttonwood and the commercial properties on GMD has stated he will front the funds for the storm water issues that impact Buttonwood Drive if the Town and the State of FL (FDOT) reimburse him for their responsibility for these water issues.  This is an ongoing discussion with the Town and the developer.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

Gulfstream Roundabout Project

To: Sarasota City Manager Marlon Brown

Hello.  As the US-41 Gulfstream Avenue Roundabout construction project is moving along and the east exit onto N. Gulfstream Avenue into our predominantly residential neighborhood is planned at this time to be open, it’s appropriate to address needed public safety measures, as well as other pending items.

I hope with appreciation that you can be helpful regarding:

I.  Public Safety Measures Needed in the 1200 Blocks of N. Gulfstream Avenue given the predominantly residential nature of Gulfstream Avenue, the high-volume of pedestrians on N. Gulfstream Avenue/ Cocoanut Avenue/Palm Avenue/Lower Main Street (dog walkers, exercisers, business patrons/workers, residents, visitors, tourists, etc.), speeding vehicles on the 1200 blocks of N. Gulfstream Avenue, vehicular accidents/incidents on N. Gulfstream Avenue, cut-through traffic on Cocoanut Avenue between N. Gulfstream Avenue and Fruitville Road, and the very wide T-shaped intersection at N. Gulfstream Avenue and Cocoanut Avenue (photo attached) that confuses drivers and results in vehicles and drivers in precarious positions, and is conducive to U-turns.  Based on these factors, the following Public Safety measures are needed and requested:

1.  Two 25 mph speed limit signs in the 1200 blocks of N. Gulfstream Avenue:

– Please re-install the 25 mph speed limit sign near the east exit off of the US-41 Gulfstream Avenue Roundabout.   Photo of prior sign attached.

– Please re-install a speed limit sign on N. Gulfstream Avenue eastbound just past Cocoanut Avenue by the fire hydrant, which also should be 25 mph.

2.  Two Stop signs on N. Gulfstream Avenue at Cocoanut Avenue:

– Please install a Stop sign at the corner of N. Gulfstream eastbound and Cocoanut Avenue.

– Please install a Stop sign at the corner of N. Gulfstream westbound and Cocoanut Avenue.

3.  If not 2., then please install Speed Tables or Speed Humps in the 1200 blocks of Gulfstream Avenue, eastbound and westbound.

4.  Please review the parking space by the fire hydrant on N. Gulfstream Avenue near Cocoanut Avenue to ensure if the close proximity of the parking space to the fire hydrant meets fire safety requirements.

5.  Is making one of the parking spaces on Gulfstream Avenue between Cocoanut Avenue and Main Street an Handicap space a consideration for the general public?

II. Landscaping

  I understand the landscaping plans are in final design.  May the public please see the plans before they’re final?  The expectation all along has been that the landscaping, etc. would be a public process.

– I believe that FDOT through the consultant Kimley-Horn, has a role in the landscaping too.

– Will the City be attending to the small pond by Main Street that needs attention for pond health and aesthetics?  (I have photos, can forward if need.)

– Will there be an attempt to address the worn-out “grass” around the ponds, especially along Gulfstream Avenue (by this I mean the areas that will not have new sod)?  (I have photos, can forward if need.)

III.  New Concrete Pads at Drainage Structures in the new Enlarged Pond

February 2022 was the first I heard that concrete pads would be installed.  They’re not depicted on the FDOT drawings of the ponds for this Roundabout project http://www.swflroads.com/gulfstreamroundabout/.  See copied/attached photo below.  On February 7, I asked Ms. Ramos questions about these (you’re copied), including to please provide a pictorial, what the surface will be, whether the public will have access to the pads, and if so for what usages, and who’ll be responsible for maintaining the pads.  Does the City have any roles in the concrete pads, and if so could you please elucidate?

IV.  Fountain for Large Pond

  The fountain is vitally important to oxygenate the water for the health of the pond/environment and all fish and fauna in it and the human life near it.

– The placement of the fountain is also a design factor regarding the whole pond area.  (If the fountain might be in driver sight line, perhaps the location of the fountain also could be a driver safety factor.)

– We understand from FDOT that Sarasota County has the fountain.  Is the City at all involved in making sure the fountain is the appropriate size for the new pond, and in determining its location and installation, and/or maintenance?

V.  Sculptures

– Denis Kowal Sculpture:   All the lighting apparatus around the sculpture should please be fixed and re-activated (one light fixture has been removed from its base – see photo). Will the ground under this sculpture be leveled?   The sculpture will need a good cleaning after the roundabout project is complete.

– Red Complexus sculpture:  Any updates?

VI.  Boulevard of the Arts

I recently heard that there’s discussion of possible traffic and access changes at Boulevard of the Arts and US 41.   Do you have any information about this?

Thank you very much for your time, and that of the Staff’s.  We appreciate the City’s efforts regarding these ongoing matters and I look forward to hearing from you.

I am copying Commissioner Ahearn-Koch given her interest in this project and public safety, as well as copying Ms. Ramos given any overlap with FDOT on any of the above issues.

Linda Haller Sloan

Sarasota

Gulfstream Roundabout Project

To: Linda Sloan

Thank you for your comments and requests. The safety of our residents and tourist is a high priority for the City of Sarasota. In coordination with FDOT, the City is working diligently to resolve some of these concerns while the construction of Gulfstream is underway. Please understand that many of the items you are requesting will be assessed once the construction of the Gulfstream roundabout is completed later this Fall.

The City has coordinated with FDOT to get the 25 mph speed limit signs reinstalled once the construction is completed. As for the two stops signs on Gulfstream Ave at Cocoanut Ave, the City will be evaluating the intersection once the construction is completed to determine if the stop signs are warranted per the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). In addition, the City will evaluate this segment and determine which type of traffic calming measure is applicable if this segment meets traffic calming warrants.

City staff measured the fire hydrant accessibility at N Gulfstream Ave and Cocoanut Ave and determined that the hydrant was not accessible. For this reason, the City will be removing two parking spaces (#401 and #402) specifically to provide access to the fire hydrant. Parking spaces #425 and #426 will be repurposed to accommodate one handicapped parking for accessibility to the park and Main Street. This improvement will be made within the next three months.

Mary Davis spoke to you recently and has answered the landscaping questions. To summarize, the landscape plan is almost complete, and Mary Davis is happy to share the design once it has been reviewed internally and is ready for the public. In addition, FDOT will be placing sod around the ponds before completing the construction project.

Per FDOT, the new large pond rendering does not depict the concrete pads because they are part of standard pond construction. Once the concrete is poured around the drainage structures, it will serve as an erosion control measure at the bottom of the pond. Based on FDOT, these drainage structures are not for public use or pond aesthetics. The City does not have any role in the concrete pads.

The County will maintain the fountain for the large pond every month following construction. The County mentioned that the fountain is in good condition and was maintained adequately before its removal. It is currently located at a County facility. The County plans to reinstall the fountain in an appropriate location once construction is completed.

The sculpture by Dennis Kowal will be assessed for any leveling issues after the project is complete. The Office of Public Art will also have the piece cleaned, and the plaque will be evaluated at that time.

Complexus is on loan for another year to Sarasota Art Museum, and after that time, the City will discuss the relocation of the artwork. The height limitations imparted by FDOT may prevent us from placing a piece large enough in the Gulfstream roundabout. If this is the case, another location will be selected within the area for a commissioned artwork. This is still in process, and Mary Davis will keep citizens informed.

The Boulevard of the Arts (BotA) and US 41 intersection improvements are conceptual. This intersection cannot accommodate a roundabout due to right-of-way constraints. In coordination with FDOT, a signalized Restricted Crossing U-Turn Intersection (RCUT) is being proposed.

For more information, please refer to the attached presentation provided to the Downtown Sarasota Condo Association (DSCA), Rosemary District, and the Bay. Thank you again for your comments. Have a great day, and stay safe.

Nikesh Patel

City Engineer

City of Sarasota

Carousel at St. Armands

To: Sarasota City Commission

As a long-term property owner and father of what I believe, one of the three children who reside on Lido Key, I want to clear up misinformation that is being spread regarding the exploring of putting a world class iconic carousal on arguably the most underutilized city park in our portfolio.

There are vicious rumors being spread in our community that a carousel, which is designed for children and families would be a dangerous and awful addition to the city park.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Anyone who has ever gone to a carousel, ridden a carousel, taken their children to a carousel, knows what a memorable wonderful experience it is.I am willing to bet you can not find a child that would not want to ride if the opportunity was presented.

I am quite familiar with members of my community who believe that they own the park and will attempt to bully and dictate what uses for the park will be appropriate now and in the future.  What they don’t understand is that the park belongs to the city  and should be enjoyed by all residents and guests.

Let’s review some of the misinformation that is being viciously spread about carousels.

1)    Noise levels will be that of a rock concert: nothing could be further from the truth.  There are laws ensuring noise levels can not and should not exceed certain decibel levels.  The city has a noise ordinance, and it will be strictly adhered to by the carousel because it is the law.  Moreover, it was repeatedly addressed in public meetings, that carousels this day in age have state of the art sound systems that keep the sound within the carousel itself and only a small perimeter outside the carousel.

2)    Jay walking: is not an issue because people with children use cross walks, period the end.  They don’t dart in and out of traffic because, quite simply, they don’t want their children to be run over and killed. When you are pushing a stroller or are holding a child’s hand you will always choose a cross walk over any other place to cross the street. People who are taking their children to the carousel, love them and will protect them from harm’s way.

3)    Traffic will increase exponentially: that’s simply not true.  In fact, I believe it will reduce traffic as families will not have to go over the bridge and back just to find a nice safe fun activity for their children.  You will never get the same traffic mess that you get with the art show for example.  With cars parked all over the median and traffic backed up for a mile.  A carousel has a limited number for ridership, unlike an art show or car show that has unlimited possible attendees.

4)    Fear that it will exclude fun events like the car show or art show: that again is simply not true.  The footprint is relatively small, and vendors can and will be able to set up on every inch of the park in the very coveted and desirable perimeter positions. No vendor wants to be stuck in the dead zone (middle) where the carousel will be placed.

Now let’s get to real truth of what a carousel will provide to the residents and visitors to St. Armand circle.

The carousel will provide families the opportunity to gather, meet and enjoy an iconic circus ride.  Let’s not forget that Sarasota is a circus town and a beautiful million-dollar carousel will bring joy to thousands of families every year.  I believe it will become world famous, people will talk about the experience when they talk about their visit to Sarasota.  Much like the iconic sailor stature on the bay.

Families will come before and after dinner to ride the carousel  they will eat ice cream and stroll around, enjoying the family experience. Children will smile and the stores will benefit greatly from the increased economic expansion.  There is nothing negative about a carousel, except the people who oppose it.  Many of whom it should be noted are part time-residents.  Including, the ringleader of the fear mongering that is being spread in my community.

In conclusion:

A carousel will be a tremendous addition to our community, it will enhance the experience of every visitor.  It will utilize the most under used park in the city.  It will create jobs, generate income for the city (rent /profit share) it will increase tax revenue and bring business to the store owners.  It will be an iconic experience and will further solidify Sarasota as one of the most special tourist destinations on the West coast of Florida.  It will help us restore our glorious history which should be embraced and cherished for generations to come.

Jerry Wells

Sarasota

Carousel at St. Armands

To: Jerry Fogle

I would like to get a copy of the carousel proposal since it was not provided in our back up material. I know we were given this previously. I have copied the city manager to see if staff can provide.

Liz Alpert

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

City property on Ken Thompson Parkway

To: Sarasota City Manager Marlon Brown

I am Craig Curtis of Illinois. My wife & I are planning to retire to the Sarasota area within the next two years. I have been visiting Sarasota area every year for the past 25 years. I am the Construction Manager for Prairie Power Coop in Springfield IL. I have developed a few residential properties in Illinois over the past 25 years. There is a piece of property that the City of Sarasota owns that is unused on Ken Thompson Pkwy, that is just west of: 1598 Ken Thompson Pkwy. The land is approximately 620ft x 170ft in size. This property is surrounded by light commercial property & this property has gone un-utilized for at least the past 25 years. My question to you is, would the City of Sarasota be interested in selling this small amount of land for possible (6) single family home lots? With some significant financial investment by myself, I believe this currently unused land could become a nice small residential single-family area. The benefit to the City of Sarasota is revenue, eliminating unused and un-taxable property and creating a taxable property income of nearly $150,000 per year for the entire (6) properties once completely developed. I have had some preliminary talks with Duncan Land & Seawall Company of Sarasota (Mark Liebel) about the construction process of making this piece of land a viable & usable space for single family homes. I am asking you to have the City of Sarasota to take this proposal under consideration. This is just the initial opening discussion, as I would be glad to have more in depth & further discussions with you or your staff regarding this proposal for residential development. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Craig J. Curtis

Sarasota

City property on Ken Thompson Parkway

To: Craig Curtis

I apologize but as City Manager I would not recommend that the City Commission sell any property along Ken Thompson Parkway (City Island). However, you are more than welcome to ask the City Commission as they are the body that has the decision to purchase, sell or lease property that the City owns. The property in question is a natural habitat to be enjoyed by visitors and has trails and a boardwalk, environmentally sensitive with wetlands, mangroves and other native species. I hope this helps and thanks for asking and reaching out.

Marlon Brown

City Manager

City of Sarasota

Update on Sarasota High plans

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Jennifer Ahearn-Koch

Thanks for the updates on that pedestrian crossing.

Following is what I know (or think i know) about SHS plans for their commitments from 2019.

You probably know that the work on the “MURT” (the improved sidewalk and cut-through on the West side of SHS, including along US 41) was delayed, approved by City, at the request of Ringling College for benefit of the Sarasota Art Museum, until after season. I have no new details on that.

Regarding their planned re-fencing with higher security fencing around SHS, I have been keeping up a “nag chain” with them for several years now, and hopefully this is getting closer. [And I’m still annoyed that they did a total rebuild of the football stadium field for artificial turf BEFORE this fencing “urgent security issue.”] Another abutting homeowner (Jen King-Elliott) and i met with Ernest DuBose, project manager for Schools, on Jan 26, along with 2 Tandem Construction managers, to glean info, since they haven’t involved abuttors in what they’re planning (or, hence, opportunity to oppose it).

They plan to re-fence much of their perimeter with the black aluminum “decorative” picket-style fencing, matching what they previously installed along School Ave during the vacate era.  They said that this part of the project is now delayed due to supply chain issues; I think they said they’re hoping for later this year.

For the one block section abutting residences along Bay Street (my block, between East and School, 9 homes/16 units) they have planned a grey 6-foot precast concrete “stone-look” fence (wall). Orders have been placed and construction schedule has already been set. For abuttors, this “wall” has its pros and cons. By the way, the P.E./sports practice field was filled over the last two months with a couple dozen temporary classrooms; well-anchored down; Ernie said they’ll be needing them for a big HVAC project at SHS in 2023, and for now they’re efficiently stored there; I call it “the trailer park”; not a problem but not something anyone wants to view (I’d be the first to admit that the primary mission of our schools is not to provide a pleasant view for neighbors).

They intend to start later this month with prep for the fence/wall project, which will include removing all trees that have grown up along the long-unmaintained fence line on their property, removing their old chain link fence, grading the land for drainage, and then, end-March (all things going according to schedule) they will build wall. Wall will have piers with 5’deep footers, hurricane-code, & resemble those around many developments. They have done a property survey, and they’re going on actual property-line, which is actually a foot or two “into” our yards; their old chain link fence is actually not on the line (this I knew).  Ernie assured us that they will not be going onto our actual properties.

While I understand why they’re doing this, to clear their field so that they can maintain-mow the entirety, plus the priority of alleged security improvement, it saddens me to see them rip down the row of (small) oaks & many, many cabbage palms there (along with many “weed” trees).  It is my understanding that Schools is exempt from any City ordinances; please correct me if I’m wrong.

A couple of compromises they have made: they agreed they will “jog” the wall around the one larger oak behind Jen’s house, the one with her daughter’s tree house; also, they agreed to flyer the homes with an info sheet about the project, before they start. Construction is always disruptive. Ernie has said they will work with people regarding temporary fencing between destruction/construction.  All but 3 homes are rental duplexes, and the neighbors and landlords who i have talked to (not all) seem to welcome the privacy and aesthetics that this wall will bring. For most of these rentals, tenants aren’t emotionally invested in their back yards, except for car parking.  While Schools has not done outreach to neighbors, I do believe that Mr. DuBose is genuinely trying to be decent to us abuttors. And that’s the local news. Thank you for all you do and being involved in these “little” issues.

Linda Kitch

Sarasota

Update on Sarasota High plans

To: Linda Kitch

Thanks so much for this. I have copied the City Manager and Deputy City Manager on this email along with the amazing Alexya.

I spoke with Mr. Brown today about your request and he said he will be more than happy to respond accordingly.

I would appreciate a site visit if possible, so have copied Alexya on this email to schedule that if you are ok with that, I just want to be on site and see for myself if possible.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

City Commissioner

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