Siesta Key Meeting Highlights

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Spring Break has not ended for some students; bicycle safety a new initiative for SKA; and more

By Rachel Brown Hackney

During the April 7 Siesta Key Association meeting, Sgt. Jason Mruczek of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office fielded a complaint about what a Siesta Isles resident described as “a pretty boisterous” group of people on the public beach about 10 p.m. the previous day.

When Mruczek asked if she could provide him any more details, she added that the noise indicated “a lot of horsing around,” especially for that hour.

SKA President Michael Shay elicited laughter when he asked if she was referring, perhaps, to the Sheriff’s Office’s Mounted Patrol. No, it was not that type of horsing around, she responded.

Mruczek explained that a number of high schools and colleges were on spring break that week, but did not recall having received any information about noise complaints related to beach activities late on April 6 or early on April 7.

Then Lt. Debra Kaspar told the SKA members what she mentioned during the Siesta Key Village Association meeting earlier in the week: Hundreds of young people had been gathering on the beach until 2 a.m. some days, but Mounted Patrol officers and deputies on ATVS had been working to disperse them. “We try to get in there and keep it all under control,” she added.

On a related note: Mruczek said deputies wrote 476 parking tickets on the Key during the month of March. The offending vehicles were parked up and down the island, from Turtle Beach north, he noted.

Finally, Mruczek reported that the parking spaces at Siesta Public Beach have been filling up fast, which made him all the happier that Sarasota County increased the number of slots as part of the improvements at the park.

The total number of spaces is 980.

Bicycle safety

In January — before he joined the SKA board in February — Harold Ashby told members of the organization that bicycle safety is his passion.

During the April 7 SKA meeting, Ashby encouraged members to pick up copies of a flyer he had placed on a table at the rear of the St. Boniface Episcopal Church Parish Hall. The flyer features a number of facts about laws pertaining to cyclists, and it urges those who use bicycles to “Be Alert and Safe.”

The flyer represents the message the SKA has developed as part of its Bicycle Safety Awareness Initiative, Ashby added.

Copies have been distributed to the condominium complexes on the key, he continued, with the hope that managers and other employees will post them on bulletin boards and distribute them to residents and guests.

The SKA also is working to get them handed out to Key merchants, he told the audience. Additionally, Ashby said, the SKA is putting together a report about bicycle safety that it hopes to “get in front of” representatives of the Florida Department of Transportation and Sarasota County, regarding the “dangerous situations on the Key.” He added, “You’ll be hearing more about that.”

Two new people for Siesta groups to get to know

After the SNL published an article about Sarasota County hiring Nicole Rissler as the new deputy director of operations for the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, an SKA member asked whether Rissler essentially would be taking George Tatge’s place. Tatge will be retiring on May 31 after more than 35 years as a county employee.

In turn, SNL posed the question to Jason Bartolone, a county spokesman. Bartolone replied in an email that Rissler’s position is a new one “with various responsibilities across the parks department.” He added, “George’s position is Beaches Manager, and that position will be filled following his retirement.”

Rissler is expected to start in early May, according to a county news release. In July 2015, she left her position as director of sports with the county’s tourism agency, Visit Sarasota County, to become chief operating officer of the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center (SANCA). SANCA manages events at the county’s Nathan Benderson Park, where the World Rowing Championships will be held in 2017.


Siesta Sand
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