By Rachel Brown Hackney
Regular readers will recall that in July, after an observant Siesta resident expressed concern, SNL asked Sarasota County staff about the disappearance of a solitary “pocket park” parking space across Ocean Boulevard from the Givens Street intersection.
In its place, the contractor building the adjacent luxury condominium complex called Oceane had installed a dumpster.
After some research, county Media Relations Officer Brianne Grant learned from Planning and Development Services Department documents that the developer of Oceane had the right to use the site during construction. Apparently, that was the result of a 2005 County Commission vote. However, those spaces must revert to the county — meaning the public — after projects have been completed.
On Sept. 12, SNL learned that the contractor — Gilbane Building Co. — had begun putting trees and plantings in front of the retaining wall at the pocket park/parking space site. A nearby resident alerted SNL to the fact that Gilbane had someone grading the area where the dumpster had stood.
Then, that same evening, the resident emailed to report that a big palm tree and other vegetation indeed had been put into the ground where the pocket parking space was supposed to be.
It took almost exactly two weeks to get an answer — again through Media Relations Officer Grant — about the status of the pocket parking space.
On Sept. 26, in an email, Planning and Development Services staff spoke with the developer, who “confirmed that they will be restoring the parking spot in the near future.”
The developer is Crossgate Partners LLC, based in Suwanee, Ga.
The reader who originally raised the issue during the summer about the loss of the pocket park space sent an email to Commissioner Alan Maio, too, asking about the restoration of that public site, after it appeared to have become part of Oceane’s landscaping.
The reader notified SNL on Sept. 30 that he had received the same answer from county staff that SNL received from Grant.
The next question, of course, is what timeline the developer has in mind for “the near future.”
SNL made attempts to get that answer from Gilbane’s staff in Sarasota, but it was unsuccessful in reaching anyone who could address the situation.