By Rachel Brown Hackney SarasotaNewsLeader.com & Bob Stein
Some signage, please
As discussion ensued among Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) members about traffic and parking issues related to Siesta Public Beach, Secretary Helene Hyland said, “I’m still concerned about some signage or light post or flasher” to make the end of a median near the beach entrance more visible to traffic.
She pointed out that the southbound lane of Beach Road curves around that median. “It’s very dangerous at night,” she added. Someone has put up a yellow post, she noted, but it has no reflector on it.
Lt. Debra Kaspar of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office responded that it was her understanding that the team in charge of the beach park renovations scaled back the original design of the median because of concerns about traffic.
The narrowing of the road around the median — which Hyland likened to a “finger” sticking out into traffic — is the problem, Hyland said.
“You’re driving straight, and they changed it with the upgrades [so] all of a sudden, the road bears in essence to the right,” Siesta Key Association (SKA) President Michael Shay explained. If a driver is not paying careful attention, Shay continued, “you may go up on [the median at that spot],” especially at night. Kaspar promised to look into the situation. The end of the median needs to be much more visible, Hyland stressed.
Keeping the Village beautiful
During his report at the March SKVA meeting, Michael Shay — who also serves as the liaison between the SKVA and the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. — reported that the annual power washing had been completed, and new mulch had been added to the plant beds. “So we’re chugging along. We’ve had no issues — till right this second,” he added, looking at Kay Kouvatsos, co-owner of Village Café.
Kouvatsos pointed out a problem with the sprinklers in front of the restaurant: “Some of them pop up and [some] don’t pop up,” she said. “[The system] floods the sidewalk about a quarter to 9 in the morning.”
Shay replied that the Village irrigation system has been turned off, so the sprinkler heads to which she was referring belong to Siesta Center, where Village Café is located. “I did call the management company [for the complex] about six weeks ago and let them know they had a leak,” he noted. Siesta Center has a maintenance person who is supposed to be available on the property, Shay continued, or at least “[that] is what I was told.”
As for other matters related to Village upkeep, he said, “Everything seems to be running very well,” except that some of the streetlights “are going out a little more often than normal,” he continued. An electrical issue has been discovered with No. 15 by Davidson’s Plaza, he said, so an electrician will be working on that one. “Not No. 15!” Hyland responded teasingly, prompting Shay’s acknowledgement that it is across the street from her Coldwell Banker office.
Lockers at the beach?
At the end of the March SKVA meeting, Kay Kouvatsos of Village Café brought up a question that a customer had asked her: Is it possible that the county might install lockers at Siesta Public Beach?
SKA President Michael Shay suggested she get in touch with Carolyn Brown, director of the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department for the county, or George Tatge, a Parks Department manager.
Having lockers for visitors to store items while they go out on the beach might prevent a lot of thefts, Kouvatsos added, noting that she was referring to the type of equipment that allows a person to put in a coin and then remove the key, which could be pinned to a swimsuit. Lt. Debra Kaspar of the Sheriff’s Office reminded the SKVA members that the safest option for visitors is to lock all of their valuables in their vehicles before heading to the shore.
Later that day, I posed the question of lockers to Carolyn Brown. “That concern never came up, to my knowledge,” during any of the public meetings held about the design of the renovations at the beach park, she said, though she noted she did not attend the earliest meetings. (John McCarthy, her predecessor, was still heading up the department when the discussions began.) Brown did note that most lockers are made of metal, which raises the question of their longevity in the salt-air environment near the water.
“And where would they go” is the next question, she pointed out. The restrooms probably do not have enough space to accommodate them, she added.
SKA sells out annual breakfast meeting
The Siesta Key Association (SKA) marked a milestone on March 5: For the first time ever, the organization sold out its annual members’ breakfast meeting. That was the announcement President Michael Shay made at the conclusion of the session, held on Saturday, March 5, at St. Boniface Episcopal Church.
Board member Beverly Arias stated that 128 people registered, and 18 guests were expected. It appeared one table remained vacant, but that still would have put about 140 in the Community Room at St. Boniface.
As usual, Shay’s sense of humor was on display during the event. After Secretary Joyce Kouba — who heads up the Nominating Committee — introduced the officers and directors for the next year, Shay noted that she had given him a hard time because the programs for the meeting named all those people, though the official vote on the officers did not take place until that morning, before the breakfast gathering. Shay said he told Kouba, “‘There was no other choice,’” given the need to have the programs ready.
When Sarasota County Commissioner Al Maio took his place at the podium for remarks, he pointed out that has been in office about 15 months, and “there’s always room to learn things.” He added, “I am absolutely infatuated with this deal I just heard about — that before you run for re-election, you get in, and there’s printed material already saying [you have been elected].” He drew plenty of laughter with that comment.
A message from the Siesta Key Association
Siesta Key Association counts on your continued support and your input on issues affecting the quality of life in our island community. SKA advocates for all property owners to maintain and improve Siesta Key’s environment, safety, and the natural beauty we all enjoy. We petition county government for services commensurate with our island’s tax contribution. Annual member dues are $30 per year.
You can now register, update your membership profile, and make payment online by going to www.siestakeyassociation.com. Please provide your email address if you have one and you will be included in SKA email communications.
We look forward to seeing you at our monthly meetings held the first Thursday of the month at 4:30pm, St. Boniface Church, Room F, 5615 Midnight Pass Road on Siesta Key. "Like" us on Facebook!
New Membership Director
The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce welcomes Suzanne Roberge as their new Membership Director. Suzanne hails from New Hope, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Emerson College in Boston with a degree in Communications and has professional experience in public relations, radio, membership sales, and event planning. People have often told her she should work for a Chamber of Commerce because of her community and business involvement in such places as Martha’s Vineyard, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Nashville. So, now’s her chance! Please stop by the Chamber office and say hello or give her a call for a personal meeting.
Timeline for completion of the Stickney Point bridge renovation
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) estimates completion of repairs to the bridge on May 31, 2016. Functional Checkout of all new equipment ran in the beginning of March. The contract has now shifted over to a 60-day burn in period where the contractor is obligated to repair or replace anything that goes wrong during that period. If nothing major goes wrong, the project should wrap up at the end of May.
Save the date; Siesta Fiesta
The annual Siesta Fiesta taking place in the Siesta Key Village is set for April 9 and 10, 2016, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. both days. Ocean Blvd will not be closed as in past years. The vendor setup for this year’s event will mirror the February’s Craft Fair, with booths lining the sidewalks so traffic can access Village businesses. This open air arts & craft fair has hundreds of vendors and food stands. You’ll find plenty of creative paintings, metal and wood creations, jewelry, sculptures, photography and so much more from artists around the country.
Special Events on Siesta Key • 30th annual run for the turtles will take place on April 2, 7-9:00am
It’s time to dust off those running shoes and get ready for the 30th Annual Run for the Turtles which will take place on April 2, from 7 – 9 a.m. The Run supports sea turtle conservation and research at Mote Marine Laboratory and is the Sea Turtle Conservation Program’s major fundraiser — here’s your chance to support this worthwhile effort.
The event is happening at Siesta Key Public Beach, 948 Beach Road. The registration fees are Adults: $35 On Race Day: Registration begins 6:30 a.m. at the Siesta Key Gazebo, south of the pavilion. The 1-Mile Fun Run or Walk begins at 7:30 a.m. and the 5K Manasota Track Club-Sanctioned Run begins at 8 a.m. For more info: Contact Paula Clark, (941) 388-4441, ext. 357 or pclark@ mote.org.
7th Annual Women’s Collegiate Volleyball Tournament; April 8 – 10, Fri (Noon – 6pm; Sat & Sun- all day)
The Fiesta on Siesta Key, the largest collegiate sand volleyball competition in the U.S., returns for its seventh year to Siesta Key, FL, on April 8-10, 2016.
David Carstenson, Event and Competition Director and founder of the event, comments, “Now that the NCAA has made Beach Volleyball an official sport (number 90 for NCAA), dual competition will be the main focus of this event. The National Championships, held in Gulf Shores, is being conducted for the first time under the NCAA, who will be watching this event for results.”
The format for the 2016 Fiesta on Siesta Key will differ from past years. FIU, FSU and other institutions that have added Beach Volleyball programs are lining up to compete. “The Fiesta will be a three-day event, with Sand Volleyball programs participating to fulfill their NCAA Sand scheduling requirements,” says Carstenson. “We have added to the mix a small-college National Championship with D2 schools such as Eckerd along with D3 schools and NAIA.” Schools will also compete in a one-day format in pool play, with the players from some D1 schools mixing with D2 and NAIA schools. State colleges will again be playing match-play to highlight their players.
USA Volleyball will also hold its Florida tryouts for the National HP program on Saturday. Players in the top five spots from participating beach volleyball programs will compete in true NCAA competition on all three days in April. See www.fiestaonsiestakey. com for more info or contact Dave Cartenson, 727-639-3905.
Sunset Moonlight Movie Series – April 23
Enjoy a family night of fun with your toes in the sand and under the stars on beautiful Siesta Key Public Beach, near the main pavilion beginning at sunset with a FREE screening of the Disney movie: Wall-E. FREE popcorn will be offered, but remember to bring your own blankets and chairs. Rain date: April 30. For more information contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000 and ask about the April Moonlight Movie Series.
For more events on Siesta Key, see Events & Attractions.