By Stan Zimmerman
Siesta Sands/March 20
Siesta’s Avenida de Mayo in parking tiff
Right now there are no parking restrictions on Avenida de Mayo, but that could change if a neighbor’s efforts are heard. Marlene Merkle says parking on the street near Siesta Village now leaves only one lane open for traffic.
“It’s a nightmare in the middle of season,” she says. She is seeking a parking ban on the south side of street she’s lived on for 25 years.
Parking is a perennial problem in and around the village. As the tourist season starts to be a year-round affair, the occasional parking problems are becoming endemic on the island.
Merkle says other streets off Ocean Boulevard do not allow parking, or parking by resident permit only. The issue is likely to end up before the Sarasota County Commission in May.
In the past some areas have been festooned with large rocks to prevent parking, although the rocks are on county right-of-way. Even in summertime parking in the area can get chaotic, for example during Fourth of July fireworks on the key.
Bridge park gets new seawall
The work you might see at the western terminus of the Siesta Drive bridge will replace the seawall along Bay Island Park. More than 80 percent of the $1 million price will be covered by a grant from the West Coast Inland Navigation District.
The City of Sarasota will contribute $114,000 because the half the property is city-owned. The other half is county-owned. The park is a Mecca for fishermen, day and night.
Fear not, motorists. The work will be performed from barges at the waterside. No traffic impact is expected.
First paddleboard race set for April
Siesta Key’s first paddleboard races are set for April 20, starting off the northern end of the public beach. One race will be a three-mile sprint, while the other will be a 12-mile endurance race looping around Lido Key and City Island, using both New Pass and Big Pass.
The events are sanctioned by the World Paddle Association, are represent the first sanctioned paddleboard competition on Siesta Key. Proceeds benefit the Surfrider Foundation which protects access to beaches and waves.
Depending on turnout, up to seven round-trip tickets will be awarded to winners of the six classes in the endurance race, plus one ticket will be raffled off. For more information see siestakeyclassic.com
More high marks for Siesta Beach
The sugar sand is on a run. Last year’s ranking as America’s number-one beach is causing other organizations to take a peek. Gogobot has ranked Siesta Beach as number 15 in a list of international beach favorites.
The award calls Siesta “family friendly” and invites visitors to the Sunday afternoon drum circle.
The notice follows Siesta’s second-place notice on TripAdvisor.com’s rank of best American beaches, and third in FlipKey.com’s rank of international playas.
Banner year for tourism so far
Early statistics show this tourist season could break all records, and signal an end to the American recession. Last year state statistics showed spending topped pre-recession levels, and this year looks to surpass 2012.
President of Visit Sarasota County Virginia Haley said last year visitors were up by eight percent, and spending was up almost 14 percent. This year, she indicated continued growth at about three percent.
Booking rooms has been harder than ever this year, with several motels and hotels reporting “no vacancy” for many days in March. Historically March is the peak of season and bookings normally top 90 percent. One rental agency reported, “We have nothing available from Boca Grande to Anna Maria Island.”
Siesta Key historically captures about a quarter of the Sarasota County ‘bed tax’ on short-term rentals that funds county arts organizations and tourist promotions.
The perfect (sound) storm
Noise has been an issue recently. The city is struggling with its noise ordinance, and Siesta Village has always had a noise problem. But a recent incident near the junction of Ocean Boulevard and Beach Road was a strong example of worst-case circumstances.
The Blasé Café is a one-story, low-key business set back from Ocean Boulevard. But when musicians play there, the speakers point out to a pair of condominiums almost intentionally designed to capture and magnify the music like a whispering gallery in a museum.
Terrace East and the Beach Terrace condominiums share the junction of Beach Road and Ocean Boulevard where they join at the end of Siesta Village. The Blasé Café building is shaped a bit like the flare of a trumpet, while the architectural details of the two condos act very much like a giant ear.
County Code Enforcement Officer Kevin Burns tested the sound levels at the Terrace buildings, and told the Siesta Key Association the condo residents are hearing the same sound level as the patrons of the café because of the acoustic fluke.
When informed the proprietor of the Blasé Café immediately pointed the speakers away from the Terrace buildings, and further testing will be held.