Island chatter: June

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County expands spring break operations to May 1

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department decided to expand its heightened spring break operations on Siesta Key through May 1 this year, instead of scaling back as planned on April 15, due to large crowds on the beach. And May 1 will be the cut-off date going forward.

That’s what Sgt. Dan Smith told the Siesta Key Association at its May 5 meeting.

Between April 1 and April 30, 597 calls for service originated from Siesta Key, Smith reported, including 55 for personal property crime. Smith said that high number for personal property crime was likely the result of a large officer presence on the beach, where visitors had the ability to make immediate contact with law enforcement regarding an issue.

The other high number of calls, at 76, involved illegal parking.

Smith also noted his department will continue to educate businesses and visitors that it’s illegal to use low-speed vehicles, including golf carts, on the southern part of Midnight Pass Road where the speed limit increases to 40 mph. Low-speed vehicles are limited to areas that are 35 mph and below.

The area on Midnight Pass Road that turns to 40 mph begins approximately at the 7-11 store just south of Southbridge Mall, heading south until the end of the island. Smith said a southbound sign notifying motorists that low-speed vehicles are not allowed exists.

He said he’ll be reminding rental businesses of the law, and encouraging them to create maps with details on where low-speed vehicles can be used on the Key.

County drainage project in full swing along Ocean Boulevard and Higel Avenue

Drainage improvements near the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Higel Avenue began May 2 on the north end of Siesta Key and the project is expected to last as long as five months.

Residents in the area received postcard notification from Sarasota County stating that construction will be done from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays.
    They noted that motorists should expect lane closures and should exercise caution when driving in this area. The project, according to the county, includes connecting two retention ponds to a new piped stormwater drainage system. Work will begin on Ocean Boulevard, just east of Ocean Place, and continue to Higel Avenue, turning south to Lotus Lane. Existing deep wet ditches along the road will be converted into shallow grassed swales fitted with ditch bottom inlets to drain into the new stormwater pipes.

Phase one, which is underway, involves the closing of Ocean Boulevard at Higel Avenue to Gleason Avenue, at the Siesta Key Chapel.

Phase 2 involves the closing of Higel Avenue to Reid Street, which runs behind Out-of-Door Academy school.

The final phase involves Lotus Lane, where the new system will take water into the Grand Canal.

Timelines for each phase have not been defined.

Kids Summer Beach Run is Tuesdays in June, July

The annual Kids Summer Beach Run series returns June 7.

Starting then, the event will be held every Tuesday through the July from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Adult runners begin at 7 p.m.

On-site registration is held at Siesta Beach, which is the starting and finishing line for the 1-mile run. It’s for youngsters 18 and under (adults can join little ones) and participants receive a ribbon each week Those who run four times receive an event-themed T-shirt. Coupons from New Balance shoes will also be offered.

  The free event is co-sponsored by Sarasota County and the Manasota Track Club.

Bus strikes SUV on Siesta Key

A school bus struck an SUV from behind on Siesta Key on May 4. No injuries were reported.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, shortly before 9 a.m. the bus, carrying six students, had a rear-end collision with the SUV that was stopped in a right-turn lane northbound on Midnight Pass Road where it intersects with Stickney Point Road.

Investigators said the bus driver failed to execute proper stopping distance. The car that was struck was driven by a 69-year-old Palmetto woman who had an 81-year-old passenger.

Bird walk set for June 11

A beach walk with an emphasis on bird watching will be held at 8:30 a.m. June 11. It is hosted by Kylie Wilson, shorebird coordinator with Audubon Florida.

The walk begins at Siesta Beach near the volleyball courts and heads north along the beach.

Participants will see and learn how to identify some of the protected bird species on Siesta Key.

All ages are welcome, and no registration is required. For more information, email Wilson at

Speed cushions installed at approach to Village area

On May 11, Sarasota County began the installation of 3-inch-high speed cushions on Ocean Boulevard, in both lanes, at the approach to the Village from the north, near Hour Glass Way.

The measure is designed to lower speeds to 15 to 20 mph. but not impeded rescue vehicles.

Volleyball tournament is June 4, 5 at Siesta Beach

    The Sunshine State Outdoor Volleyball Association will hold a tournament for both adults and juniors on Siesta Beach the weekend of June 4 and 5.

    On Saturday, the adult open division enters competition beginning at 9 a.m. On Sunday, juniors and co-ed adults begin at 8:30 a.m. Visit for more information.

Fireworks sponsorships available through chamber

The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce has announced it is now accepting sponsorships for the annual Fourth of July fireworks show on Siesta Beach.

Sponsorships includes parking, seating, beverages and light snacks.

For more information call the chamber office at (941) 349-3800 or email Ann Frescura at

Post-fireworks beach clean-up volunteers are needed

Keep Sarasota County Beautiful is seeking volunteers to help remove debris left on Siesta Beach from the Fourth of July fireworks as part of its eighth annual Liberty Litter Cleanup event.

The morning-after clean-up effort begins at 7 a.m. on July 5. To participate, you must register at or by calling (941) 861-5000. No walk-up volunteers are allowed to participate.

The registration deadline is noon on June 29.

The first 100 volunteers qualify for an event-themed T-shirt.

Supply pick-up is the week of June 29 through July 1 at 8750 Bee Ridge Rd. from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Tiki bar opens in Village

    A new outdoor tiki bar is open in front of Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites, 5311 Ocean Blvd. in the Village.

Called the Big Tiki Lounge, it offers service at a walk-up window and outdoor seating for about 70, including several large TVs.

Live music will also be featured.

Drinks available include craft and domestic beers, wine, and specialty cocktails.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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