Report on beach ball signs delayed until Aug. 1

County staff has been working with the Florida Department of Transportation on whether a beach ball logo can be used for permanent signs regarding Siesta’s No. 1 beach status for 2011-12. Image courtesy Visit Sarasota County

It will be at least Aug. 1 before Sarasota County staff delivers a report to County Administrator Randall Reid on the use of signs with a beach ball logo to mark Siesta Key’s No. 1 beach status for 2011-12, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.

Reid had reported to the County Commission on July 10 that he had expected information by July 16 on what type of permanent wayfinding signage the Florida Department of Transportation would allow the county to erect.

However, Reid’s assistant notified the county commissioners July 16 that staff had requested a two-week extension for the report, and Reid had approved the request.

Donna Thompson, the county’s assistant zoning administrator, had sent an email about the signage, saying, “[A]dditional information and consultation is required to determine if all possible avenues have been vetted.”

Thompson was leaving July 18 for vacation through July 23, she added, and Rob Lewis, the county’s director of planning and community development — under whose purview the signage matter has been handled — would be on vacation all of next week. Therefore, she was requesting the extension “to finalize the assignment upon Mr. Lewis’ return on July 30.”

Commissioner Nora Patterson told her fellow commissioners on July 10 that members of the Siesta Key Village Association had voted during their July 3 regular meeting to send the county a letter of support for the beach ball logos.

Since late August 2011, signs in the traditional style used for parks around the state have announced Siesta Public Beach’s status as No. 1. Photo by Rachel Hackney

SKVA President Russell Matthes pointed out during that meeting that the brown No. 1 beach signs the county had added to Sarasota County Area Transit signs before Labor Day weekend in 2011 had proven popular with tourists.

However, SKVA members supported the idea of permanent signage that would indicate the No. 1 beach ranking for Siesta bestowed in May 2011 by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman — aka Dr. Beach — of Florida International University in Miami.

Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, previously had told SKVA members that as long as the beach did not suffer any deterioration or decline in facilities, Leatherman would keep it on his permanent list of No. 1 U.S. beaches.

Lourdes Ramirez, a Siesta resident who is president of the Sarasota County Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, had suggested the beach ball design for the signs. Haley’s staff designed the logo, which Visit Sarasota County has used over the past year in marketing the county to tourists.