Island Chatter SKA

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By Diana Colson

JANUARY MINUTES: Read and approved as is.


SHERIFF’S REPORT: Sheriff McGregor said there had been a rash of condo burglaries, most with unlocked doors. They have a solid suspect. They believe he watches people leave the building before entering, then removes only part of the money and/or jewelry he finds, making the theft less obvious. The suspect always wears the same things: sandals, a white ball cap, and a greenish or gray shirt. You are urged to keep your doors locked.

Sheriff McGregor went on to say that the parking situation on Avenida de Mayo is a mess right now. Signs have been installed by the County but are facing every which way. “We don’t have a lot to do with signs,” he said. “We just enforce them.” Parking will not be enforced until the sign situation gets straightened out.

SIESTA KEY VILLAGE ASSOCIATION: Cheryl Gaddie spoke of a two February events: a Craft Fair in the Village and Valentine’s Stroll.

GUEST SPEAKERS: Carolyn Brown, Director of Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, and Brad Gaubatz, AIA LEED AO, head of Capital Projects Sarasota County Public Works, gave an overview of Siesta Beach Improvements. The presentation was detailed and impressive. Groundbreaking for the improvements began on January 22, 2014.

The improvements will include expanded parking, adding 143 new parking places, and bringing the total to 980 slots. Parking has been made more efficient and safe. Lighting will be Marine Turtle Compliant. A ramp will lead up to the new east concession and new restroom facility. The completed complex will include this new concession stand, new landscaping throughout, the historic pavilion, west concession stand, and a Public Safety building. There will be access points throughout the park.

Questions came from the floor as to why the tennis courts had to be moved. Answer was that more parking places opened up by moving the tennis courts.

The final phase is expected to be completed by November 1, 2015 at a total cost of $21,500,000. More information can be found at


ENVIRONMENT: Bob Luckner spoke of the upcoming return of the Snowy Plovers, nesting from February to August along the Gulf Coast. Nesting from March to August are the Black Skimmers, Least Terns, American Oystercatchers, and Wilson’s Plovers. Disturbance of these beach-nesting birds threatens their survival. Each nest is critical. By being a responsible beach-user, you can help beach-nesting birds and their young survive.

The rules established by the Florida Shorebird Alliance are simple: keep your distance; respect posted areas; never intentionally force birds to fly; keep pets away from nesting areas; keep the beach clean; do not feed wildlife; and spread the word. For more information, visit or Violations against wildlife may be reported at 888-404-3922. Volunteers are always welcome!

MEMBERSHIP: Deet Jonker confirmed that a big membership drive is currently going on. Annual Members Breakfast Meeting is Saturday, March 1 at 8 AM, St. Boniface Episcopal Church.

INLET MANAGEMENT: Peter van Roekens reported that Big Pass Marker # 1 has disappeared again. The depth is still at 5 ½ feet. The course can be found on:

OLD BUSINESS – LIDO/BIG PASS: van Roekens said that most organizations on the Key are opposed to the dredging. However, we are still awaiting the Report promised for February.

OUT DOOR DISPLAY – SKVA: Michael Shay reported that several businesses have come up with a proposal to try to change the ordinance concerning outdoor display. The proposal would allow each store to obtain a permit to display a fixed amount of items in front of their business. This proposal has not yet been approved.

AVENIDO DE MAYO: SKA considers it a big disappointment that the parking matter is not yet resolved. (Sheriff McGregor had previously explained the situation.) SKA considers this matter urgent because emergency vehicles need access along that street.


SATURDAY, MARCH 22: The Great American Cleanup is scheduled. The County is sponsoring Keep Sarasota Beautiful, and will supply t-shirts, trash bags and gloves. Plans are to clean Siesta Beach starting at the pavilion, going north to access #2, and going south to Point of Rocks.

SIESTA KEY KIWANIS: Bill Irish said the group was working with All Faiths Food Bank on a gleaning project. If you have more fruit that you need, and want to get that fruit to people—not tree rats— contact this worthy organization. You can pick the fruit yourself and they will pick it up, or they will pick it for you. It can also be delivered directly to All Faith’s Food Bank. More information at

FIRE-RESCUE EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES: Dr. Bob Luckner serves on the advisory board of this organization. This new Emergency Operations Center will be completed by March 2015. The new Facility will be able to withstand Category 5 hurricane winds with fully duplicated utilities and communication networks, ensuring that government services will continue during significant events. The new EOC/911 facility will provide a 12% reduction in response time. The preliminary cost estimate is $ 18.5 million, with money coming out of Penny Tax. Groundbreaking was 12/9/13. There will be one location on Siesta Key – at the Stickney Point and Midnight Pass Light. The facility is a joint effort with Manatee and Sarasota County, and towers will be jointly shared.

Bob Luckner also reported that budgeting is in place for construction of four new/replacement fire stations: Twin Lakes, University/I75, Sarasota Square Mall (#14), Bee Ridge (#12).Cost is $8 million, with 50% coming from existing reserves and 50% future (borrowing) from impact fees and budget under runs.

This advisory board has started collecting data on Homeless use of Emergency Services. Currently there is $460,000 per year in un-reimbursed transport costs. Most homeless don’t have Medicaid, and—although homeless account for only 2% of county total responses—90% of homeless calls result in transport to the hospital.

Please contact Bob Luckner with suggestions or feedback. or 941-224-6951.

Siesta Sand
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