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SKA October Meeting Notes
By Diana Colson

Michael Shay, Vice President of the Siesta Key Association, chaired the meeting. President Catherine Luckner was off on a well-deserved vacation.

The minutes of the September meeting were approved before moving on to the agenda.

CODE ENFORCEMENT:  In the absence of John Lally, Joe Volpe covered current issues. Within the past month, Code Enforcement had shut down a couple of houses under construction or renovation whose owners had not pulled the proper permits.  Code Enforcement had had a large backlog of such violations, but was now fairly well caught up.

SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Sgt Scott Osborne reported a couple of burglaries.  He said that different groups of 3 to 4 homeless persons come in every month. When they see they are being watched, they move along. There were some problems with narcotics and sleeping on the beach. There were also some issues following the Sunday Night Drum Circle when 500-600 people were breaking up. Other than these relatively small issues, Sgt. Osborne said the parking lots were not full, crowds are down, and the Sheriff’s Office is having an easier time at the moment.

SIESTA KEY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE & SIESTA KEY VILLAGE ASSOCIATION: Joe Volpe said that Siesta Key was looking forward to serving “safe treats” from 3 to 6 PM on Halloween.  Following Halloween, the Christmas Parade will take place on Saturday, November 30. Both organizations have been hard at work on making the parade a grand success. “It’s going to be a great parade,” said Volpe.  “Santa Claus will be there!”

BEACH ROAD DRAINAGE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT:  Alex Boudreau, Professional Engineer and Project Manager, Sarasota County, used charts to address the group. “We had a dense area and a small retention pond on the south side of Siesta Beach Park. Right now we are under contract to build the project. The idea is to clean up the contaminants before they go out into the bay.  In order to build the pond, we are going to run into ground water.

“There is no place to put this water until we can get the bacteria out of it. Ultimately, when the Retention Pond overflows, water will be treated through the pipe and put out to sea. 40 acres worth of drainage water will be filtered. When the ponds are reconfigured, water will then be pumped through the pipe. That pipe will take the water 3000 feet off shore, where it will dissipate in the sea water.

“So far, the construction of the pipe has gone well.  However, to finish the pipe, we have to first finish the trench.”

When asked about the depth of the pond, Boudreau responded that at approximately 15 feet deep, it would be significantly larger and deeper than its predecessor.  Ultimately it will hold enough water to survive a 25-year storm and be treated by ultra violet light.

When asked if there would be a backup generator, Boudreau responded that none was put into the original design. He reminded the audience that this was more of a treatment project than a drainage project.  Michael Shay addressed the issue of storm water currently flooding Beach Rd., and asked if this project was supposed to alleviate that flooding. Boudreau responded that the thrust of the project was to improve the quality of water coming out of the pond.

No aeration fountains are included in the plan. Joe Volpe asked: “What’s going to keep it from stagnating?” Boudreau answered that it was going to be flushed out, and that the sun’s ultra violet light was supposed to eliminate the bacteria.

Commissioner Nora Patterson added that in the past, there had been numerous beach closures.  She said that the goal of this project was to keep pollution from dangerous bacteria off of Siesta Key Beach and minimize the probability of beach closures.

Several board members reported that the major concern of many Siesta Key residents was whether the beach path will be returned when the project is finished.  Michael Shay assured them that “The pathway will still be there, but not as an organized path. It will just be a path through the woods.”

COMMITTEE REPORTS:  Michael Shay reported that the International Coastal Cleanup had a perfect day. In addition to several other groups of volunteers, 33 people showed up from SKA, and covered from Access #3 to Point of Woods.  “The beach was amazingly clean, and relatively free of cigarettes, plastic straws, water bottles, beer bottles, and the like. It was a great day! Everyone saw schools of stingrays.  For anyone that hasn’t done this in the past, please join us next year.”

As for Big Pass Dredging, Shay said that the SKA Directors are still gathering information. “Hopefully after the December meeting, we will have good information on the project and be able to take a position. “

OLD BUSINESS: SKA is still working on the problem of businesses putting racks and tables out onto the sidewalk to display their wares.  Solving this issue remains an ongoing project.

NEW BUSINESS:  Bill Irish and Carolyn Koffer from Siesta Key Kiwanis told the audience that the group is gearing up to do their Annual Fruit Tree Gleaning for the All Faith’s Food Bank. From January to April, the group will collect fruit that would otherwise be wasted.  They will not only pick fruit from trees, they will also take broken fruit to the Big Game Preserve.  If you have one or more trees in your yard, go on line and register your trees.  If you prefer to harvest your own fruit, Kiwanis will be glad to pick it up.  The group aims to pick fruit every weekend from January to April, with some kids from some schools helping.  Several businesses have also offered to help. The idea here is that food does not go to waste. Kiwanis plans to get food out to the people who need it.  The goal for this year is to salvage 12,000 pounds of fruit. Volunteers may register at the Kiwanis website.

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