Greetings from the Gulf: January

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January calendar has 2023 coming out swinging

By John Morton

Last century had the Roaring Twenties.
A hundred years later, Siesta Key suffers from the Boring Twenties. It’s like, nothing ever happens here. So totally lame.
Ha! No, my head isn’t buried in the Siesta sand (actually, that’s not altogether correct). I’m just telling myself that all is tranquil and calm here — like it’s supposed to be.
Another year has passed, and it was as chaotic as the last two. The two-thousand-and-twenties are kicking-our-butts-a-plenty. See our Year in Review on page 20 as a reminder.
Turns out, we have some parallels to those Roaring Twenties. On the heels of women getting the right to vote, they became known as “flappers” as they flouted Prohibition laws and pranced about in many a speakeasy.
If you’ve been to a Siesta Key Condominium Council meeting, you’ve heard the stories. Snicker, snicker.
Back in the 1920s, there was a sudden surge of mass consumerism.
Well, there’s no question that our island today is being massively consumed. So, there’s that.
As for these so-called flappers, the new version are these gals who take flight after just one date with your favorite columnist.
Many today are also far from deserving of any sort of voting rights. I know this from the misguided “swipe left” results on my dating profile.
Anyway, the past two years represented a super-speedway of issues and decisions here, and 2023 is the year where we finally see how they play out — and this month sets the stage, right out of the 2023 gates. It’s where the rubber meets the road.
Assuming there’s any road to be seen.
Will there be hotel construction blocking Calle Miramar on the edge of the Village? A potential summary judgment Jan. 6 on Lourdes Ramirez’s lawsuit could play a role in that (see page 4.)
Next, on Jan. 17, James Wallace’s lawsuit regarding the approved stoplight at Avenue B&C off Stickney Point Road (part of the Siesta Promenade project) will proceed with oral arguments.
I’ve been told that cars would be stopping there every 85 seconds. I’ve also been told that if Wallace wins, all that infrastructure already in place would need to be torn out. You’ve likely noticed the stoplights are built, waiting to get the green light. Pretty brazen of the Benderson folks, eh?
Then there will be zillions of dump trucks going south to Turtle Beach for about two months (see story on page 1) and unrelated lane closures for a projected eight-plus months for a repaving project going the other way on Midnight Pass Road (see story on page 4).
In June, when the Trial of the Century likely goes down on the other hotel-related lawsuit, we will truly feel the force of all that is on our collective table.
Oh, and then there’s the roundabout project slated to now begin in December. A perfect 2023 bookend?
The Roaring Twenties ended with the Great Depression. Just two years into our decade, I think I’m already there.
Off the road, January brings us a big meeting, courtesy of the condo council (see ad on page 14). The insurance crisis in Florida, as expected, is skyrocketing. Go to the Siesta Key Chapel on Jan. 17 at 3 p.m. to hear from an expert.
And January brings another doozy — the Jan. 12 Sarasota County Legislative Delegation’s vote on Round 2 of incorporation efforts (see page 1). As resilient and determined as this Save Siesta Key group is, I can’t imagine how it could survive another no vote. I think it would run out of money and that would be that.
Then again, an exclusive Nov. 30 cocktail party board member John Davidson hosted did result in nearly $23,000 in donations. I wonder what an island-wide keg party at his crib could bring in? I have Bobby Schneck, musical director for Siesta Sand, on retainer for this very thing.

Anyway, by now you’ve seen the competing signage on the island — the SSK making a final push and Gary Kompothecras fighting against it.
Nice to see they at least agree on sign design!
There are so many local stakeholders impacted by this huge moment in Siesta Key’s history, but absurdly the big vote belongs to a gent from Port Charlotte who just happened to be thrust into Sarasota County’s southern outreaches, aka nowhere near here, via redistricting a few months back. Nothing against state Rep. Mike Grant, but should he really have the deciding vote?

Turns out he will, and two years of SSK work falls into the hands of a relative stranger.
Not fair to him, not fair to Siesta Key.
Which brings me back to my disdain for this part of the incorporation process. Yes, the state legislature does need some sort of gatekeepers on matters like this, but it should belong to those at point-blank range — as in our local district rep Fiona McFarland and local state senator Joe Gruters. Let them alone decide whether or not Tallahassee should entertain this notion. But to include a revolving door of politicians who happen to share a bit of the county within their footprint? Total nonsense.

Was the Key not quite as bright and festive this year? It seemed to lack a light or two, and that’s likely because a lack of interest forced the cancellation of the condo council’s annual holiday lights contest. Folks, let’s put a return to form on our to-do list for 2023.
I did see a bit of color, however, during the Dec. 13 sunset. I’ve poo-pooed this whole “green flash” phenomenon my whole life, but I’ll be darned if I didn’t finally see it. And I’ve met several others in recent days who claim the same.
And no, it wasn’t the Siesta Photo Bomber being chased by a turtle. I truly saw the Great Greenie.
I’ll take that over seeing a Red Tide any day of the week.
And in closing, here’s to no such thing in 2023. I’m willing to feel and look a little blue as long as my Gulf can do the same.

(John Morton is managing editor of Siesta Sand.)

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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