Boat parking issues on Longboat, car parking problems on Circle — toast to woes in Venice

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By Paul Roat

Perhaps you could call this story a tale of two cities on one key.

Longboat Key, that is.

Back in the days before condominiums and Arvida, the key was a laid-back place. There are two mobile home parks on the key, believe it or not, and the north end — Longbeach Village — is still home to an eclectic group of folks who like to sit on the porch and watch the peafowl waddle by.

There is a public dock in the Village, and a little boat ramp. Villagers sometimes trailer their little boats to the little ramp and putter around Sarasota Bay or Longboat Pass.

It’s the boats on trailers in yards that have some folks who live in the southern, tonier territories on the key, somewhat upset.

There apparently has been a task force/blue ribbon committee/working group/study panel/whatever that is suggesting that boat parking in yards be regulated. Just what “regulated” means is yet to be seen, but it has been suggested that certain areas are good for boats while other are bad.

It will be interesting to see how the freethinking Villagers fare against those people who live in a community designed by a central intelligence.

Parking, anyone?

There are three certainties in our part of Southwest Florida: death, taxes, and a need for more parking at St. Armands Circle.

The Circle has been a destination for shoppers, diners, and gawkers for decades. It’s truly pedestrian friendly, with wide sidewalks and an accommodating park in the center of the traffic circle featuring frequent arts and crafts festivals, car exhibits, and concerts.

The stores are eclectic and, although pricey, feature some interesting items.

A quick off-the-top-of-the-head count totals at least a dozen places to eat, from the iconic Columbia Restaurant to the always-popular Daiquiri Deck to the new The Shore.

But although the Circle is friendly to walkers, it’s always been a chore to find a place to park a vehicle.

Sarasota City officials are hoping to come up with a solution. In conjunction with the St. Armands Business Improvement District, the city has approved a $49,000 parking study. Kimberly-Horn and Associates will look at how more parking spaces may be created, probably in the form of some sort of additional multi-level parking garage.

The study is scheduled to be completed this winter.

Perhaps it’s just me, but parking has never been much of a problem for me on the Circle or even Downtown. Most of the time I seem to get a spot right in front of where I’m going. If I don’t get the “rockstar parking” place, the walk is always enjoyable.

After all, shopping isn’t a race, is it?

‘Wine-ing’ in Venice

Venice has discovered a love of wine.

The American Wine Society, which numbers more than 4,000 members in 120 chapters, may now include Venice within its member groups. An initial session was held in September with 18 attendees. The October soiree had so many people seeking to attend that some were turned away due to lack of space at Brindley’s Liquor, Wine & Gourmet. The November meeting is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 17 at a location yet to be determined. Cost is $15, and further information may be obtained by calling Ted DeVirgilis at 941-497-7729 or

The American Wine Society is an educational organization, DeVirgilis explained, with publications, national conferences, wine tasting sessions, and even scholarships for those wishing to pursue wine understanding more fully.

The organization began in 1967 with 200 grape growers, winemakers, and wine fans.

DeVirgilis has been a member of the American Wine Society for 31 years, he said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”


Siesta Sand
Author: Siesta Sand

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