By Rachel Brown Hackney, SarasotaNewsLeader.com
In unanimously approving its June 8 Consent Agenda of routine business matters, the Sarasota County Commission agreed to pay Gator Grading & Paving LLC of Palmetto $156,954.60 for “miscellaneous concrete work” in the county parking lot under construction at 6647 S. Midnight Pass Rd., next door to Crescent Plaza.
How it will be used, however, is yet to be determined. Will it be public? Or will it be leased to area businesses for employee parking?
Almost exactly a year earlier, the commissioners formally approved the parking lot plans in an effort to provide more options for visitors and patrons of the business district in the vicinity of Stickney Point Road and Old Stickney Point Road.
A June 8 county staff memo, provided to the board members in advance of the meeting, noted that the parking lot will have 43 spaces “in the south Siesta Key Village area.”
The initiative includes removal of a portion of the existing asphalt driveway and the concrete curb so “new pervious concrete pavement” can be put in place, along with a new 4-inch-thick concrete sidewalk, a 6-inch-thick concrete driveway and a concrete Americans with Disabilities Act parking pad.
Barring any major weather issues, the memo added, the “construction should be substantially complete” by August.
The money for the work will come out of county Capital Improvements Project funding set aside for the Operations Safety and Signalization Program.
Although the original county vision for the parking lot was to serve the public, during the June 2020 public hearing on the proposal to create the facility the potential arose that it ultimately could be leased to business owners as a site where their employees could park. That would free up spaces closer to the businesses on Old Stickney Point Road, especially restaurants, business owners said.
Then-Commissioner Charles Hines also stressed, “The public access to the beach from this location is not good.”
Residents of condominium associations on the west side of Midnight Pass Road had complained that members of the public routinely trespass on their property in trying to reach the shoreline.
Neither Beach Access 12 nor 13 is close to the 6647 S. Midnight Pass Rd. parcel, speakers pointed out during public hearings on the project.
The site originally was home to a Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office training facility. Even before the Sheriff’s Office vacated the property, commissioners Alan Maio and Nancy Detert talked about the land’s potential for a parking lot to supplement spaces in the “South Bridge” area.
A county Public Utilities Department structure stands on the rear of the parcel, which is why the parking will be confined to the area closest to Midnight Pass Road.