Island Chatter

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Beverly Arias Beverly Arias
Siesta Key Association

"Just pick up a piece of garbage as you walk by. Somebody says, 'Hey, that's not a bad person.  I wouldn’t have done that, but hey’….”, said multi-billionaire Mayor Bloomberg of New York City as he shared keys to success in his recent radio show.  While his advice certainly could make one stand out in a good way from a career perspective, it’s also a good way to go in life and can even help keep our environment a bit neater, too.   The Siesta Key Association (SKA) keeps its collective minds on trash. We live and play on an island paradise and it’s a shared effort to keep it as beautiful as it is. SKA gets involved in many ways such as seeking more frequent collection of overflowing trash cans, especially during high attendance events like the July 4th beach fireworks, and requesting recycling bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans thrown out on our busy Village streets.

Let’s talk more trash.  Walking along our gorgeous Siesta Beach, the sugary white sands are frequently marred by discarded water bottles, empty drink cans, food packaging and the like.  When the beach is more serene around sunset, noticeable spots of bright colors mark abandoned sand toys, drink cups, and even clothing and tents.  It is inherent that with increasing crowds there is increasing litter. The number of visitors to Siesta Key beaches has increased remarkably since 2011 when our Siesta Beach was recognized as #1 in the U.S. by the renowned Dr. Beach.  This year, beachgoers, themselves, rated Siesta Beach #2 in the TripAdvisor’s 2013 Travelers Choice Beaches Awards.

clean up your garbage
This is the result of a carelessly discarded plastic six-pack strap. To learn more, click on photo. (Photo source: Missouri Dept. of Conservation)

Instead of waiting for “somebody” to pick up the pieces of trash found around the Key, many individuals who appreciate this little piece of paradise are committed to keeping it that way.  Beachgoers fill a garbage bag on their walks, or on their way back to their cars, to not only help keep the beach clean, but to also keep it safe.  As an eco-friendly community, we know too well how Styrofoam cups and plastic six-pack straps can be a danger to our wildlife.  For our humanlife, a rusted bottle cap or a crushed aluminum can might cause a painful experience for a barefoot beachgoer.  Recreational walkers along the Key’s main streets have been seen picking up trash as they go.  Every few months, the Siesta Key Association, along with the Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA), invite Adopt-a-Road volunteers to pick up trash from Siesta Drive to Higel St.

A little effort on our little island makes a big difference.  Imagine what a difference it would be if trash-walking expanded past Siesta Key to Sarasota County, and even around the world.  It’s already a reality with Sarasota County’s ‘Keep Sarasota County Beautiful’ initiative which champions the Great American Cleanup and the International Coastal Cleanup.  In 2012, according to the Ocean Conservancy – a global advocate since 1972 for healthy oceans – over 500,000 volunteers around the world collected over 10 million pounds of trash for the International Coastal Cleanup.  Around 30 of those volunteers who participated in that effort last year were part of the SKA team cleaning up our Siesta sands and beach accesses.  We were rewarded with a most awesome sighting of a group manatees congregating in the shallow waters off Siesta Beach.  The video of the manatees is posted on our Facebook page for Siesta Key Association. This year, SKA is again recruiting volunteers to participate in the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup on September 21st.  Anyone who is interested in joining the SKA volunteers can email  SKA also had a team of 40 volunteers during the 2013 Great American Cleanup on Siesta Beach this past April.

The barges anchored off Siesta Beach is part of the ongoing beach project currently underway. Photo by Emy Stein
Water and sand quality were part of the ranking criteria that had helped place Siesta Beach on Dr. Beach’s list of top beaches in the U.S.  To maintain this high quality enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, the much awaited Beach Road Drainage Improvement Project is now underway.  The purpose of this project is to install a stormwater treatment system to meet recreational water quality standards as well as protect public health and help alleviate Beach Road drainage issues.  During this construction project, barges will be anchored 2000 feet from the Siesta Beach shore and a pipeline is being drilled under the sand and seabed.  No trespassing is allowed in the construction site which includes a retention pond, and no swimming or boating is allowed within 100 feet of the two barges.  For questions about this project, call Sarasota County Call Center at (941) 861-5000, or view updates through the Beach Drainage Plan link posted on the SKA website.

The light at the end of this article is the confirmation that the lighted bollards at some of our busy crosswalks in Siesta Village are now in place and working.  In collaborative effort with SKVA, many thanks to SKA Director, Peter van Roekens, for his close involvement in the installation of this much needed street lighting feature.  We especially thank County staff who completed this project two weeks ahead of schedule.  Nighttime drivers and pedestrians crossing Ocean Blvd. at the liveliest parts of the Village will be aided by the newly lit crosswalks.

Siesta Key Association holds its monthly meeting the first Thursday each month at 4:30pm at St. Boniface, Room F.  SKA Members and non-members are invited.

With its focus on maintaining and enhancing the quality of life on the Key, the Siesta Key Association’s representation of island resident interests ultimately benefits everyone who spends time on Siesta Key.  SKA’s website is  “Like” us on Facebook!






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