Island Chatter – SKA

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Catherine Luckner

Catherine Luckner
Siesta Key Association

Despite traditional views of winter months as ‘season’ the secret is out; summer on Siesta Beach is glorious.  With Gulf water a perfect swim temperature and more daylight hours, everyone here has  opportunity for summer fun.  School is out and families arrive for memory-making on our island paradise.  For organized events and activities, Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Calendar offers special activities at Siesta Beach Park as well many other Park locations.  or call 941-861-5000.

When visitors arrive this summer, work on two planned safety projects will be evident on Siesta Key. This includes the start up of the Beach Road drainage project and Siesta Village Crosswalk LED bollard lighting construction.  Neither project should interfere with access to the beach park.

 Pedestrian safety with improved crosswalk lighting was a winning focus for Siesta Key Association and Siesta Key Village Association. In November of 2011, Craig Hall, with locally owned Evolucia Lighting Inc. spoke during our monthly meeting.  His presentation on LED lighting, safety and energy efficiencies became inspiration for our community.  With a 70% reduction in costs for energy and 15-20 years of longevity, the City of Sarasota purchased this lighting for the Ringling Bridge, connecting the mainland and Longboat Key.  This type of light is highly focused, without ‘loss of light or interference for surrounding landscape’.   A Siesta Key resident, Craig Hall hoped someday this lighting would be available for Siesta Key residents as well.  The idea gained traction after SKA Director Peter van Roekens pursued the concept with two other Siesta Key residents, Mark Smith, SK Chamber and Russell Matthes, SK Village Association. With Sarasota County staff assistance, on May 7, 2013, bollard LED lighting for seven crosswalks along Ocean Boulevard received approval by our County Commissioners.   Completion is scheduled prior to the end of October, 2013.

The Beach Road Drainage project is a first step to prevent flooding along Beach Road and keep the beach and gulf waters free of unsafe storm water.  This project must complete prior to the Siesta Beach Park improvements.  We expect to see ‘earth moving’ and landscape changes during the next seven months. The work will occur in the southern portion of the park, south of the tennis courts and near the existing storm water pond area.  Australian Pines will be removed along with other vegetation in hopes for the future reestablishment of native species including Oak and Mangrove.  The new pond , nearly an acre in size, will have  fountain aeration and ultraviolet  filtration units to improve storm water quality, keeping beaches environmentally safe and discharging the clean water 1000 feet into the Gulf.  The project is scheduled to begin the end of May with completion at the end of the year. For County project updates, see or call 941-861-5000 and ask for the Beach Drainage Project.

Glorious summer beach days are also accompanied by the June 1 official start of Hurricane season.  During our May meeting, we welcomed Chief Ed McCrane, Director of Emergency Services for Sarasota County. He provided a powerful message about the necessity of advance planning, respect for the power of nature and safety tips for our community.

With an quick start to the 2012 season, Tropical Storm Debby arrived  June 23 and lingered with heavy rainfall and flooding along with significant beach erosion on the southern end of Siesta Key.  Although not a Hurricane, it reached maximum wind speeds of 65mph.  Before departing our region, TS Debby was responsible for at least $250 million in property loss along the Gulf Coast and other flood prone portions of Florida.

Chief McCrane emphasized advance planning for everyone in his comment “the first 72 (hours) are on you”.  This means having food and water, First Aid Kits, medications and a care plan for your pets during the first 72 hours of any storm. You’ll need an advance plan for the following;  where you’ll go in advance of a storm,  communicating with family and friends, caring for your pets and remaining informed with the latest emergency and weather alerts.  If you’re unsure about your Evacuation zone and for more information about hurricane preparedness, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000 (TTY 7-1-1 or 1-800-955-8771) or visit and click “All Hazards link”.

Please join us for our next meeting Thursday June 6, 4:30PM at St. Boniface Episcopal Church. Our Sarasota County Fire Marshal John Reed will speak on Fire Safety and Fire department services for our community.

With our focus on maintaining and enhancing the quality of life on the Key, the Siesta Key Association works  to benefit everyone’s experience spending time on Siesta Key.  “Like” us on Face book!






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