Siesta Public Beach improvements on SKA agenda

Regardless of its recent No. 1 ranking, Siesta Public Beach needs infrastructure improvements, county officials and Siesta stakeholders agree. Photo by Norman Schimmel

The project manager for the Siesta Public Beach Park improvements will be the special guest during the monthly Siesta Key Association meeting on Sept. 6 at St. Boniface Episcopal Church.

Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce President Mark Smith reported during the Siesta Key Village Association meeting Sept. 4 that he had had a good conversation with the project manager, Curtis Smith, last week regarding the latest plan for the improvements.

County commissioners expressed alarm during their Aug. 20 workshop when Curtis Smith’s supervisor, Carolyn Eastwood of the county’s Public Works Department, announced the latest cost estimate for the beach plan was between $22 million and $23 million.

As The Sarasota News Leader reported last week, Curtis Smith and the other team members, including representatives of the county’s consultant on the project, Kimley-Horn and Associates, have been working to trim “wish list” items that were added into the design, resulting in higher costs.

Mark Smith, an architect, has volunteered to represent Siesta stakeholders in looking at the beach plans to propose suggestions about ways to further cut costs. While Curtis Smith had hoped to have information to him by the end of the past week to assist him in that process, Mark Smith told the SKVA members Sept. 4, he had not received anything yet.

Mark Smith added that he had felt Curtis Smith was overly ambitious in his offer to do that by late last week, given the complexity of the reorganization of material Mark Smith had requested.

“I told him he would be a real hero if he could have that by this Thursday,” Mark Smith said of Curtis Smith, referring to the SKA meeting.

SKA President Catherine Luckner said she planned to keep Curtis Smith’s presentation to 20 minutes. To facilitate that, she told the News Leader today, the SKA directors will have a list of questions to provide to attendees to help keep the discussion focused on the most pertinent topics:

1. What is the status of the permitting process and initiation of the stormwater plan?

 2. We’ve seen the term “60% design completion” and the costs attached. What does this mean regarding the costs and budgeting? What is next in the work ahead?
3. Many stakeholders were involved  in recommending features of the beach park design. Can you tell us how you decide between a “want” and “need” regarding the beach design?  (e.g., what features must be included to comply with law or ordinance?)
4. At what point in time does the County Commission receive a budget for approval?

Along with Curtis Smith’s presentation, SKA directors are expected to offer updates on environmental issues, the effort to improve illumination of Siesta Village crosswalks and the Florida Department of Transportation plans to install new pedestrian crossings at six locations on Midnight Pass Road.

The meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Room F at St. Boniface, 5615 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to correct the estimate for the total beach project, as presented to the County Commission on Aug. 20.