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Friday, August 19, 2022

Letters to the Editor week of March 18, 2022

Passing of Attorney Lamar Matthews

To: Editor

With the recent passing of Lamar Matthews, our legal community, and our community as a whole, have lost a true giant, legend and friend.  As an attorney for almost 60 years, Lamar was the epitome of excellence and professionalism in every sense of those words.  He was deeply admired by his peers as well as by the judges in this circuit.  He was a kind and generous man, deeply involved in our community and public service, and received many honors and awards, including awards for professionalism, trial excellence, and outstanding service to the judiciary.

Watching Lamar in the courtroom was always an absolute pleasure.  His knowledge, preparation, presence, and decorum should be a model and inspiration for all attorneys.  His passionate dedication made our legal community a much better place.  He certainly inspired me, and I will miss him greatly, as will so many people in our area whose lives he has touched in countless positive ways.

Charles E. Roberts

Chief Judge, Twelfth Judicial Circuit

Sarasota

 

Daylight Plane

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Per a Commissioner request, attached is a copy of the previous report associated with Ord. 2020-07 that went to the Town Commission on Sept. 14, 2020. The Commission, at that meeting, sent the item back to P&Z for further work.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Daylight Plane

To: Longboat Key Commission

We had a Commissioner request for a copy of the September 14, 2020 Commission Agenda Report on Daylight Plane and Single Family Buffering.  This was the last time it was before the Commission before it was sent back to the Planning and Zoning Board.  The minutes from that discussion are also attached.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

Paddleboard signs removed

To: Longboat Key Commission

We were notified earlier today by Manatee County that the Kayak/Paddleboard Landing signs that they placed on Greer Island were removed today.  They stated that they were advised that the signage they placed on the island was premature and they would need to have a non-motorized vessel exclusion zone adopted before they place the signs.  County Commission Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge indicated that he continues to support the designation of that area and the County will work with the Town on what the next steps may be.  As the Town Commission is aware, based on the latest direction staff is working with the Town Attorney’s Office on that designation and we will follow-up with the County on the next steps.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Important historical environmental papers from Dr. Morrill

To: Longboat Key Town Clerk Trish Shinkle

Dr. John Morrill from New College was for 20-40 years one of the most respected environmental experts on the Longboat Key area.  I was one of his students and I received a bag full of documents about the environment of Longboat Key from him before he died.  Some of these documents seem to be original and some may be copies.  My concern was that this information may shed light on projects that the Town is currently working on and that we may want to preserve this information into the future.

I made a video to display these documents so that if there was any interest in preserving these environmental documents for posterity I could find a safe home for them.  The people who may be interested in seeing and preserving these may be New College Environmental Studies Dept., Manatee County Commissioners and government officials, Sarasota County Commissioners and government officials, Longboat Key Town Commissioners and government officials, Mote Marine Lab and others in this area.  As far as I can see there is no one body which can safely archive this material for the future.  The Longboat Key Historical Society is inactive, New College said they were not set up to receive these documents,  Susan Phillips from the Town of Longboat Key said that she would look at these documents in order to consider what to do with them.  Here is the video and if you see anything that you may want to look at more, please contact me.  I am trying to do due diligence out of respect for the many years that John put in trying to help the environment here locally.

Tom Mayers

Longboat Key

 

Important historical environmental papers from Dr. John Morrill

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Sorry for the delay in responding but had a chance to look at the video and read the responses from Tom Harmer. Am thrilled Town staff is working with you to preserve /copy these documents.  These papers provide an important historical perspective to our Key and think several could be displayed at some point.

The Shangri -Isle concept blew me away.  Am thankful Sister Keys didn’t see that fate.

Also, did not realize our historical society is now inactive – not sure if you tried to connect with Michael Drake, recent past president of the group.

Thank you so much for keeping Dr. John Morrill’s documents and working to preserve them.

Maureen Merrigan

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Important historical environmental papers from Dr. Morrill

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Maureen Merrigan

Boats at LE channel to Beer Can Bay about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26.  This is a day about one month after the installation of the signs, about two weeks after a full page article in the newspaper, and about 5 years since we began talking about the channel.  If there is a police patrol, it is not evident.  There are dogs on the beach as usual.  The signs will not do any good if there is no law enforcement of the new rules for the beach.  I believe that your email to the Police Chief which warned of the dangers of not enforcing the signage would result in people being emboldened to not follow the signage and laws.  The channel or canal is almost gone.  It seems that we are squandering an opportunity to establish a great swimming beach and paddle board and kayaking landing location.  You are actually making it more difficult for residents and tourists to use the small beach in a passive way only to allow a few boats to a right which is not theirs.

You may be right about the Historical Society but you may want to define active.  Do they hold regular meetings?

Thomas Mayers

Longboat Key

 

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

We did discuss the new kayak area, again, at the last Commission workshop and the need for enforcement.   

I understand our Police Chief will look to get a foot (or ATV) patrol out there for public education.  The police presence on the beach last year was very helpful to all of us as it related to dogs – and we need to do the same for the kayak beach area.  Hopefully this weekend was better than your pictures from a week ago (I just got back from being out of town).  I did see from a beach volunteer report that our town Marine patrol was out on the water this weekend – and was informed that we were not last weekend due to officer illness and staffing.

Here are my take-aways from the Commission discussion:

Our police will enforce (via warnings/citations/fines) the kayak landing area when we have an ordinance in place (which, between first and second readings, is going to take another 2-3 months).  In the meantime they can help educate the boating public and ask them to move their boats and respect the signs.

The new signs were put in by the Manatee County Parks and Recreation group.  We have asked, but it doesn’t appear that we will get much help from the County Sheriff in educating the boaters – or in enforcing County park signage.

The Town is moving forward in making Greer Lagoon a non-motorized boat area (except for egress/ingress to docks) so that entire area will be a park area for passive recreation. All of the Commissioners support this.

The good news is that kayakers are using the landing area – the bad news is many boaters are misinterpreting the signs, don’t see them, or choose to ignore them.  We will probably need to add an explicit “no-motorized vessels” to the “kayak landing only” signs.  Thanks for your patience – 5 years and counting.

Relatedly, I too am concerned the cove is closing in.  Tom Harmer, our Town Manager is aware of the changes there near your dock and is following up.   I know from meetings over the last year, that the Town has consistently communicated to the north end residents that the permitting there in the channel near your dock was specifically set up as an open permit so that it could be dredged again, as needed, without going through a new permitting process.  It looks like it many be needed sooner than later. The Town knew we were going to have to stay on top off this – especially after we placed the large amounts of sand on the north end during this last re-nourishment.

Maureen Merrigan

Commissioner

Town of Longboat Key

 

Digital documents

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Maureen Merrigan

I handed the bag of documents to the Town of LBK and they scanned the documents and put them in digital form.  I don’t know what percentage of the documents that they scanned but I am assuming less than 50 percent.  They did a large amount so you can at least see some of what I have.  I hope that you can navigate their link.  There is more to do in organizing the material at their site but it is their material now so I will just wait to see if or how they organize it.  I only asked that they give me everything back after they finished scanning and I am assuming that is what they did.  Here is the link and take time with it and you will see a lot of material there.

Thomas Mayers

Longboat Key

 

Digital documents

To: Thomas Mayers

Thanks again for meeting with us yesterday.  I assigned all of my staff to split the files so we were able to accomplish 97 percent scanning of the records you brought in.  We did not scan your book as you advised that you would provide a copy and additionally, there were several of the larger (24 x 36) prints that were deemed too delicate to send through the plotter to reproduce.  We did scan in the draft of your book but not the bound version.

We will be working to catalog the documents over the next several weeks, setting aside time to accomplish this during the workday.  Unfortunately, we cannot devote one person to work on this as their sole focus daily, but promise that it will be accomplished.

Again, thank you for sharing the information.  I’m sure current and future residents of Longboat Key will be grateful that you selected the Town to house the records.

Trish Shinkle

Town Clerk

Town of Longboat Key

 

North End Cell Service

To: Longboat Key Department Heads

I wanted to thank everyone involved in the undertaking to bring improved cell service to the North end of Longboat Key.  This was a difficult task from start to finish and could not have been accomplished without the organized and focused contribution of all Town departments.  The result will be a meaningful improvement to the quality of life and safety for a large portion of the island and a terrific complement to our model undergrounding project.

Looking forward, I think we all noticed the door left open by Verizon for co-location of another carrier’s equipment on their poles.  If we can achieve that, or use by another carrier of our light poles, we can claim total mission accomplished.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Town of Longboat Key

 

St. Armands Agenda Item

To: Longboat Key Commission

We originally heard that the City of Sarasota Planning Board may be hearing an application from the St. Armands Business Improvement District for a Comp Plan Amendment and a Zoning Text Amendment that would address height and residential uses.  I checked with the City earlier today on the status of the applications.  They have advised that due to some legal challenges, the BID and the City staff are not currently moving forward with the application.  See emails below from the City. We will continue to monitor.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

St. Armands Agenda Item

To: Sarasota City Manager Marlon Brown

Marlon, as we discussed, the Town is monitoring the recent discussions and upcoming changes being proposed to certain entitlements related to the St. Armands commercial area.  We heard previously that the DID proposed zoning/land use changes to St. Armands would be coming before the City’s Planning Board on March 9th.  I don’t see that item on the upcoming agenda.  Can you advise if that item has been moved to a different meeting agenda/date?

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

St. Armands Agenda Item

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

I believe the BID nor staff is moving forward with them at this time given some legal challenges but I have copied staff to confirm. Thanks for checking.

Marlon Brown

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Tree vigil

To: Sarasota City Commission

I would like to invite you all to join us at the vigil for the 200+ year old majestic grand oak tree, Pink Floyd. We will be gathering this Friday, March 11th from 5-6pm.Flyer attached with info. Hope to see you there! Have a happy day!

Flo Entler

Sarasota

 

Tree vigil

To: Flo Entler

Your admiration for this tree is commendable. Since no city position has been taken, no tree has been authorized to be taken down, and  no action has been taken by the purchaser of the land, it seems premature to have a vigil for a perfectly healthy tree that is alive. If there’s a time in the future where such actions are warranted, and I hope there isn’t, I would take part in honoring such an act.  However, now is not the time.

Erik Arroyo

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Bus

To: Sarasota City and County Commission

Please look at the second attached photo, it is a woman and her daughter sitting on a sidewalk, waiting on a SCAT bus, in the city of Sarasota at US 41 and between 4th and 5th Streets.  I sent an email last week to our City Commissioners saying how dismayed I am with the lack of bus benches and shelters. Our buses run about every hour.  I was getting gas today and saw this woman and her daughter sitting on the sidewalk and then went and spoke with them and took another picture.  Drive around, it is really unthinkable how riders are supposed to wait.  The woman told me that when it is raining, she has to stand under a business overhang 20+ feet away to try to not get soaked and still try to keep an eye out for the bus.  Drive down any street that the buses “serve” and you will be shocked, or you should be.

Our city commissioners told me to send my concerns to the county commissioners, which I did with absolutely no response.  But the bus stops are still in the City even though SCAT oversees it.

Nice that we are getting a trolley to shuttle locals and visitors to St Armands and the beaches from downtown, and I am totally in favor of that, but what are we doing to help those that rely on our public transportation to get to and from work, etc.

We can and should do better than this. Thank you for putting up with my ranting.

Barbara Sassen May

Sarasota

 

Bus

To: Sarasota City Manager Marlon Brown

Closing the loop on this item. Please see the attached response to the citizen from Jane.

Brad E. Johnson

Assistant County Administrator

Sarasota County

 

Terminating the Sister City relationship between Vladimir, Russia; and Sarasota

To: Lucinda Smith

You may have seen in the press that on February 28th, Monday morning, Commissioner Hagen Brody sent me a letter declaring his desire to terminate the Sister City relationship between Vladimir, Russia; and the City of Sarasota. He will seek the Commission’s approval to do so at City Hall on Monday, March 7th. Feel free to attend this City Commission meeting after 1 p.m. in support of Sister Cities.

Since the war started in Ukraine I have been heartbroken and angry, as have many of us, in seeing visceral, terrible images of destruction in Ukraine. I personally support all our formal diplomatic efforts and sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s criminal government, although I cannot speak officially for SCAS when I say this.

When I received this letter from Commissioner Brody we had an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors. We knew it was our mission to keep open the lines of communication between our educated, pro-peace colleagues and friends in Vladimir by vociferously protesting against this move that inadvertently demonizes them as “the Other.” As you have seen on the news, pro-peace Russians have protested this war in cities all over Russia. We must support their courage and undermine this dictator’s desire to make everyday Russians and Americans, Westerners, and other communities enemies. Even now he is trying to shut down media outlets or throttle them as the war continues. He wants to isolate his people to keep them from receiving unbiased information, maintaining friendships, and exchanging information with ordinary, peace-loving people all over the world. Our goal is to prevent that here as we would with any other of our Sister Cities. In supporting dialogue with our colleagues, we therefore steadfastly support Ukraine.

Therefore I wrote a response to Commissioner Brody’s letter and sent it to the Commissioners and City Manager. I have also been doing nonstop newspaper and television interviews in the past week around Sarasota and the Tampa Bay Region, so you may have also seen or read my comments there.

See

a) the attachment with Commissioner Brody’s original letter and

b) the attachment with my response that I sent to the Mayor, Vice Mayor, other City Commissioners, and City Manager.

I ask you a favor. Please read my letter. If you agree with us, please support us by contacting City Hall. You can contact the City Commissioners and City Manager Marlon Brown at the emails below. Please include your phone number and address in contacting them:

Mayor Erik Arroyo: Erik.Arroyo@sarasotafl.gov

Vice Mayor Kyle Battie: Kyle.Battie@sarasotafl.gov

Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch: jen.ahearn-koch@sarasotafl.gov

Commissioner Liz Alpert: liz.alpert@sarasotafl.gov

Commissioner Hagen Brody: hagen.brody@sarasotafl.gov

City Manager Marlon Brown: marlon.brown@sarasotafl.gov

You can also feel free to write a letter to the editor at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, or communicate to City Hall in any other way you think you can support us.

City Hall Commission meeting on Monday, March 7th: If you would like to come to support us at City Hall, we will be on the agenda after lunch, which means after 1:00 pm. Unfortunately, we do not know when. It could be in that next hour or the next couple of hours. That being said, this is a way of fighting back against violence in Ukraine and towards Russians protesting the war while showing those of us at SCAS your support and belief in our mission. It might be worth sitting there for a few hours of your time.

Thank you very much for your attention and support.

Miriam Kramer

President

Sister Cities Association of Sarasota

 

Terminating the Sister City relationship between Vladimir, Russia; and Sarasota

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody

I totally support your position.  Termination of the sister cities relationship is appropriate given the current and unfortunate circumstances.  Thanks for your leadership!

Lucinda Smith

Sarasota

 

The Bay Runner Trolleys

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody

The Bay Runner Trolleys are really cute but on my first ride, I witnessed first-hand a serious issue which must be addressed.

There were five homeless people who were riding the trolley without an intended destination. Three of which were belligerent and harassing the other passengers. At our stop, the driver who had clearly had enough, instructed the unruly passengers to get off. They would not and we witnessed a 5-minute yelling match between these passengers and our driver. Our driver finally gave up when it was clear they were not going to comply. We were allowed to board (wish we had not) because within minutes they were loud and disruptive which we had to tolerate until we got off at our destination. This time it was only verbal but what happens when it becomes violent? Three of this group of five homeless clearly have mental illness issues and/or substance abuse issues.

This is a real problem which I believe will only become worse as the Sarasota homeless population continues to grow.

Perhaps charging to ride will help. Both New Orleans and San Francisco charge riders.

Realistically, I question the benefits versus the liability. While currently cute and brand new, I believe the Trolleys will become a financial drain on our tax dollars over time. (Salaries, fuel, maintenance and liability/lawsuits)

I am requesting that you please revisit this program/initiative proactively addressing all issues providing this service may cause. Thank you for your consideration of these concerns.

Anna Rose

Sarasota

 

The Bay Runner Trolleys

To: Anna Rose

Thank you for the info and I’m sorry for the unfortunate experience. Hope you give it another chance. We’ll be working through any kinks in the program over the next couple weeks and months so we appreciate your info and suggestions.

Hagen Brody

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Request for sign or marker at an intersection

To: City of Sarasota Utilities Director Bill Riebe

I am a local business owner located at the intersection of Washington Blvd and Ringling Blvd. On the west side of Washington Blvd on Ringling Blvd, there’s a concrete median dividing the direction of traffic. My employees and I witness vehicles turning west onto Ringling Blvd are running over the median just about everyday (sometimes multiple times a day) because they don’t see it. This is causing them to damage and break off parts from their cars. I’m requesting that a sign/post/marker showing the direction on where to turn to be put up for the safety of everyone. If there’s anything you can do about making this happen, it will be greatly appreciated. I have attached a map with a red X to show the exact location of where this keeps happening.

Carra Lappino

Sarasota

 

Request for sign or marker at an intersection

To: Carra Lappino

Thanks for sharing. We look into this and take appropriate action. Thanks again.

Marlon Brown

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Sidewalk

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch

I’ve not gotten any response from infrastructure maintenance dept, or anyone in the city, regarding terrible sidewalk along south side of Fruitville near Hometown Suites that gets much use from Lockwood Ridge to Beneva (that being the section I use most; guessing many sidewalks need repair) I really just want to know when, if ever, that 2-3 inch raised block near the Home (the worse part.. there are many) will be ground down or replaced. It wanted to report that it is quite a hazard and surely a liability for the city!

Please forward this to any appropriate party(ies).

Rose Kelley

Sarasota

 

Sidewalk

To: Rose Kelley

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I have copied the City Manager and Deputy City Manager on this email to forward this to the appropriate department.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

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