By John Morton
Earlier this summer, the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce had some fun with an informal survey regarding whether or not people felt the Village needed public bathrooms
The questions even incorporated a bit of potty humor.
But the survey was serious, as the chamber is a daily recipient of questions about where public bathrooms can be found. And many Village businesses suffer the same legs-crossed inquiries.
The chamber sent a letter to the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners Aug. 17 asking that the county fund restrooms in the Village, and the Beach Bazaar, located at 5211 Ocean Blvd., even offered up the land in order to do so.
At the commission’s Aug. 30 meeting, Beach Bazaar general manager Wendal Jacobsen was among three speakers during public comment to inquire about the idea. He reminded county leaders that in 2009 and 2010, when the Village’s beautification project was in full swing, his business donated land in order to be home to the Village’s signature gazebo at the corner of Ocean Boulevard and Canal Road. He said he’d now be willing to offer space near the gazebo to house public restrooms.
Currently, the public restroom closest to the Village is located about a mile away at the Siesta Key public beach.
Meanwhile, the Siesta Key Breeze trolley stops every half hour between Beach Bazaar and Morton’s Market, resulting in what market owner Todd Morton called “an onslaught” of bathroom-usage requests.
And it goes beyond trolley passengers.
“When the nearby beach accesses empty out for the day, the hunt for restrooms is in full swing,” Morton said.
He was hoping for immediate action.
“It makes perfect sense to move on this sooner than later before the tidal wave of high season arrives,” he said.
Added Mike Gatz, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors and general manager at neighboring Gilligan’s Island Bar & Grill, “It’s an ever-growing problem as we get busier and busier out there. We’re not seeking a palace. Two ADA-compliant stalls would do the trick.”:
Gatz shared the survey results with the commissioners:
Of the 589 respondents, 87% said yes to the need for public bathrooms in the Village.
As far as the chamber goes, it tracks its walk-in numbers — 5,223 in 2021 — and of those, 2,089 people inquired about public bathrooms.
Alan Maio, chairman of the commission, said the topic was already something being addressed and he asked that the Siesta Key representatives “just be patient.”