Greetings from the Gulf: October

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Time for today’s Key-note speaker

By John Morton

Let’s cut to the chase.

On second thought, let’s get to the point. Chase is a bad word when you’re about to suggest that all of Siesta Key should have a speed limit of 25 mph.

I’ve often said that our island is at a crossroads, and crosswalks happen to be part of that conundrum. The incident in August in which pedestrians were struck at dusk at the marked path on Midnight Pass Road and Old Stickney Point Road outside of Captain Curt’s brings this issue to our attention.

Consider how it involved a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old that was in her father’s arms, and it heightens the concern.

For sure, crosswalks should be in our community’s crosshairs.

Kudos to the county for installing, just three weeks after the incident, a Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacon. That’s an RRFB to you and me.

Of course, like all traffic-related safety measures, it comes after the fact.

And in that area, there are several more crosswalks that aren’t all things techno.

So, before we talk about more lighting, pedestrian herding rails, countdown-to-cross signals, pedestrian bridges, crossing guards, and assorted Wynken, Blyken and Nods, let’s first examine this.

Whether coming from Stickney or Midnight Pass southbound, the signage is adequate. You clearly know what you’re getting yourself into.

It’s driving northbound on Midnight Pass, where the signage is less intensive, where we seem to have a problem.

And sure enough, the guy who struck the pedestrians was going northbound.

Not far from that crosswalk to the south, the speed limit is 40 mph — in an area known for racing, for God’s sake.

I know folks have fought for that to be changed, and now’s the time. Nowhere on the island should people be doing 40.

And if you’ve ever sat outside at the Crescent Club or Sniki Tiki, you’ve seen the wretched yahoos floor it and honk as they fly by — through four crosswalks.

It’s as if arriving on Siesta Key is cause for some sort of vehicular coming of age. “I’m on the beach, so look out everyone!”

And yes, I’m talking to you, Bradenton.

I suggest we just slow things down in a big way. Between the crowds, the jaywalking, and the distracted driving, flashing lights and warnings of $166 fines for violating crosswalk laws don’t cut it.

Stay alive at 25 sounds right to me.


Next, as I continue my State of the Island address, did you see the Facebook footage of the Labor Day fight on the beach where another bunch of creeps attacked a beach attendant who was simply trying to stop them from grabbing chairs off a rack that were intended for private-guest use?

When asked about this Sept. 8 during the Siesta Key Association meeting, Sgt. Dan Smith of the local substation said he knew of the incident but no arrests were made because no one would cooperate. Just like the ugly Memorial Day scene when shots were fired.

Smith also said his deputies responded to beach fights all over the island on Labor Day.

Should we outlaw holidays here? Should we shudder to think what Columbus Day will bring? The Santa Marias vs. the Pintas?

Folks, our problems with punks persist. And many of us are revved-up about it.


OK, let’s change gears to something more positive. Here are a few tidbits regarding our south Siesta Key business district:

• Chris Brown, who bought the plaza that housed Crescent Beach Grocery, has kept his word and is nearing a deal with another grocer to operate in the now-vacant space. What a relief for many, and what an example of staying committed to doing what’s best for the area, Mr. Brown.

Oh, and as a reminder, Meaney’s Mini Donuts is still likely to be the neighbor in the little storefront between the grocery store and Coconuts.

• Next door to Big Water Fish Market in Crescent Plaza will be a new tenant in the form of an Irish pub! Big Water owner Scott Dolan freed-up the space and now the folks who ran Pub 32 on South Tamiami Trail have a new home.

I’ll toast to that! And likely more than once.

• Finally, in true Gary Kompothecras form, he is considering making his five-story parking garage more than concrete and painted lines. He wants to create a rooftop bar and restaurant.

Before you scoff, please know that this is a growing trend. Google a place called Juvia on Miami Beach to see the potential of this concept.

Back home, imagine the views we’d have of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Of course, Gary’s idea depends upon the outcome of the lawsuits against the county that impact his hotel.


Siesta Key’s record for purchase price of a house — set in December of last year for $14 million — could be broken now that a spec house at 4136 Higel Ave. is on the market for $16.99 million.

An artist’s rendering of the house to be built at 4136 Higel Ave. (submitted image)

It features 7,460 square feet in the main house, with a 1,500-square-foot rooftop terrace, and a parking garage that has the height for four lifts that can hold up to 16 cars.

The adjacent guest house has 1,530 square feet. I can live with that. Seeing as I’m a busy man, my visits will be short ones.

For years I’ve wondered how that gulf-front lot remained available. Maybe because it eventually cost someone $3.4 million? For a single acre.

Anyway, choke on that Lukewarm Raunch! (Correction: Lakewood Ranch. Accidental typos, I swear.)

This means whoever buys it will no-doubt be some sort of big shot. A star of stage and screen? An athlete? A rocker? A business guru?

A newspaper editor whose company hands out his issues for free? Free, I tell you!

Only in America.

Regardless, it will be an actual relief to me to no longer be the 111th most-famous person on the Key. No. 112 sounds much better. That’s always been my comfort zone.

What I do know is that whomever moves in will likely not be alone. If there was ever a time for the ghost of Harry Higel to set up shop, this is it.

After all, the idea of Siesta Key continuing this big-money transformation is nothing less than haunting.


Until next time, take it slow and easy my friend. You’re on Siesta Key.

(John Morton is managing editor of Siesta Sand.)

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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