Siesta Seen

County staff working on installation of ‘BigBelly’ solar trash compactor in the Village; a plethora of Village maintenance issues addressed recently; Siesta Chamber working on painting at Village trolley stop; Kompothecras DUI case dropped; FPL LED lighting project at an end; volunteers sought for Crystal Classic; and sea turtles nesting near vacated segment of North Beach Road

A BigBelly automated garbage compactor is shown in Waco, Texas. Image from the City of Waco, Texas via YouTube

In August 2013, more than three years before the Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) was absorbed into the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, a past SKVA president suggested what a great addition to the Village a solar-powered garbage compactor would be.

Nothing came of Russell Matthes’ idea at that time.

Finally, however, the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. (SKVMC) has proposed installing a 200-gallon BigBelly double solar compactor near The Lobster Pot.

That was part of the news Lisa Cece, the special district coordinator for Sarasota County who oversees Village maintenance, announced during the Aug. 15 quarterly members meeting of the Siesta Chamber.

During this year’s tourist season, Cece pointed out, “we were inundated with the highest volume of trash that we have ever experienced” in the Village. The good news is that more and more people are visiting Siesta Village, she added. “But for the [Maintenance] district, we’re struggling to keep up with that volume.”

The BigBelly compactor, she explained, would replace eight of the steel garbage cans in the Village. The plan is to install it near the Siesta Key Breeze trolley stop in front of Morton’s Siesta Market, she told the 18 attendees at the Chamber meeting. Many people ride the trolley into the Village, she pointed out, and many of them walk right over to Meaney’s Mini Donuts shop adjacent to The Lobster Pot, at the corner of Canal Road and Ocean Boulevard, as soon as they arrive.

This is the solar array atop a BigBelly compactor. Image from BigBelly via YouTube

The garbage cans closest to that intersection overflow on a daily basis, Cece continued.

Altogether, the Village has 50 of the county’s 30-gallon decorative garbage cans, plus about half-a-dozen recycling bins. “That seems like a lot,” she acknowledged, but that is not the case, given the growth in tourism.

The BigBelly,” she pointed out, “would offer the Village … high technology, automated, 24-hours-a-day, self-compacting [service].”

By the time the garbage cans run out of their warranty period, Cece noted, it is time for the SKVMC to replace them. Having the BigBelly in place would save money for the SKVMC, she added.

The maintenance company that works in the Village, under terms of a county contract, collects the garbage five days a week and hauls it by hand to the central bin in the Municipal Lot, Michael Shay, manager of the Maintenance Corp., told the meeting attendees.

People who own property in Siesta Village pay an assessment each year for the upkeep, Cece noted.

The Office of the County Attorney has been reviewing the contract for the BigBelly compactor, Cece said, indicating she hoped the office soon would give its approval to the plan.

And in other Village garbage news …

Along with the news about the BigBelly compactor, county Special District Coordinator Lisa Cece and Michael Shay, manager of the Village upkeep for the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp., told Siesta Chamber members on Aug. 15 about other garbage-related issues, one of which was a bit unusual, they indicated.

Residential garbage lies inside a Siesta Village garbage can. Photo courtesy of Lisa Cece and Sarasota County

Shay said he and Cece had discovered that people had been putting household trash in Village garbage cans. Obviously, Shay continued, that had contributed to the cans filling up “a lot sooner” than they would have under normal circumstances.

A county Code Enforcement officer recently visited two residences, to which such garbage had been traced, Cece added. “They were surprised to get [that] visit.”

Along with the residential garbage, Cece noted, she and Shay have found construction debris in Village garbage cans, which also is not allowed.

If any Chamber members have construction underway in the Village, Cece continued, “Take ownership of your projects.”

County staff is asking all business owners to make sure construction debris “is being disposed of properly.”

Yet one other recent garbage can issue, she pointed out, involved the relocation of a can from the area in front of Ripfire Pizza — in the former Jo-To location — to the Sandal Factory next-door.

Before the Sandal Factory stood at 5232 Ocean Blvd., she reminded the Chamber members, a 7-Eleven occupied that spot for many years. County staff put in two bollards and even a boulder, she continued, in an effort to keep people from backing over a garbage can at that site. Nothing seemed to prevent damage to the can.

Ripfire Pizza — which is expected to open later this month — stands next to the Sandal Factory in Siesta Village. Rachel Hackney photo

After the garbage can recently was moved from the Ripfire Pizza location to the Sandal Factory site, damage ensued again. “Now we [had] to replace the can,” Cece added. The new one was installed at Ripfire Pizza, she said; “it needs to stay there …”

Cece told the meeting attendees, “If we could all keep a ‘Do No Harm’ mentality,” the Maintenance Corp. would far fewer issues — and expenses — to handle on behalf of its members.

Electrical conduit is among trash in a Siesta Village garbage can. Photo courtesy of Lisa Cece and Sarasota County

“The Village is evolving and improving,” Cece said, “but as it does, let’s continue to keep everything in a resort-like manner. I only ask because I oversee the maintenance in the Village by contract for the county. … I know you all want the same thing.”

The reference to a “resort-like manner” has been used in the county’s solicitations for companies to bid on the Village upkeep and landscaping contracts since the county paid to undertake the Village beautification project about 10 years ago.

How long will that approval take?

People wait to board the trolley in front of Morton’s Siesta Market. File photo

Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Chair Wendall Jacobsen, general manager of Beach Bazaar, reported during the Aug. 15 meeting that members of the organization had talked with island artist Shawn McLoughlin about painting “a nice picture” in front of Morton’s Siesta Market, where the Siesta Key Breeze trolley stops in Siesta Village.

The goal, he and past Chamber Chair Mark Smith explained, is to encourage people waiting for the trolley to stand in a certain area.

“There was at one time a sticker,” Jacobsen pointed out, letting people know where the Breeze would make its pick-up at Morton’s. That sticker did not last long, he added. “We’re hoping this’ll be a better indicator,” he said of the painting.

“You know it takes two years to get a stop sign [in the Village],” Michael Shay, manager of the Village Maintenance Corp., responded. “It’ll probably take three years to get permission [from Sarasota County] to put a painting on top of the pavers.”

In response to a member’s question for clarification, Smith said that the painting would indeed need to be on part of the decorative brick pavers, not on Canal Road. The idea is to keep people out of the road, he pointed out.

“We’re going to figure out how to pay for [the painting],” Smith said, and then the Maintenance Corp. would try to get county permission to proceed with the Chamber plan.

“Can’t you just do it?” Russell Matthes, co-owner of the Daiquiri Deck restaurants, asked, referring to letting McLoughlin paint a section of pavers.

“Well, then it would be considered a ‘tag,’” Smith replied, referring to graffiti, which the county would have removed.

Kompothecras DUI case dismissed

Dr. Gary Kompothecras. Photo courtesy Manatee County Sheriff’s Office

The State Attorney’s Office in the 12th Judicial Circuit has dropped the DUI case against Gary Kompothecras, the Siesta chiropractor known for his 1-800-ASK-GARY advertising for medical and legal referrals.

Kompothecras had pleaded “Not Guilty.”

On Aug. 9, Assistant State Attorney Lindsey Brigham formally filed a Nolle Prosequiin the case. According to Nolo’s Plain-English Dictionary, “nolle prosequi” is Latin for “we shall no longer prosecute.” The dictionary says, “In a criminal case, the statement is an admission that the charges cannot be proved or that the evidence has demonstrated either innocence or a fatal flaw in the prosecution’s claim.”

The most recent case filing prior to the Nolle Prosequiwas a July 10 notice regarding a pre-trial conference set for Sept. 4.

Most of the case record involves notice of the taking of depositions or subpoenas issued for depositions.

About 1:40 a.m. on Feb. 8, a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy stopped Kompothecras on Interstate 75 after recording Kompothecras allegedly driving at a speed of 100 mph, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reported at the time.

He told the deputy, according to the report, that he had had wine at the Hard Rock Café in Tampa. Additionally, Kompothecras had difficulty with the field sobriety test the deputy tried to conduct. However, Kompothecras told the deputy “numerous times that he had an issue with his feet that affected his balance,” the report said.

On July 10, a document in the case file noted correspondence “dated July 9, 2018 from Brent L. Rubin DPM, of Neurogenx NerveCenter Sarasota …” That document indicated that Kompothecras was responding to the state’s discovery efforts.

Neurogenx’s website says Rubin is the former chief of podiatry for St. Anne Mercy/St. Vincent Mercy/Mercy Hospital in Toledo, Ohio.

Elsewhere in the Village …

Among other news related to Siesta Village’s appearance, Michael Shay, manager of the Village Maintenance Corp., said during the May 15 Chamber meeting that attendees probably had noticed, since May, that the landscaping bed near the Sub Zero ice cream and yogurt shop at 219 Avenida Madera had disappeared.

A new paid parking lot is being constructed at 5160 Calle Minorga, behind Sub Zero, Shay added, “and they needed a stormwater ditch” that had to be connected to the sewer, “so they pulled out the whole bed.”

Shay noted, “No permit; no nothing. So we did let them know that they have to replace everything.”

Along with the landscaping bed, he said, three trees were removed. Because the reconfiguration of the area for stormwater purposes will make the site too shallow to support tree roots, Shay continued, new Village locations will be settled on for the three replacement trees.

“We are going to re-plant the [landscaping] bed and put the irrigation back.”

Perennial peanut has been planted in the Siesta Village landscaping beds next to Whispering Sands. Rachel Hackney photo

Yet another matter that has been a focus of his and county Special District Coordinator Lisa Cece’s attention, Shay said, has been the removal of pavers in a number of areas as businesses have installed gas lines. All of those areas are being restored, he noted.

TECO Energy employees had to excavate in a number of places, Cece added, in their effort to install a gas line to the planned ice cream shop on the south end of Davidson Plaza. The workers had to cut into the concrete, she said. “[It] was re-poured just a few days ago.”

Cece further pointed out that the landscaping firm that works at Whispering Sands, on the north end of the Village, had blown debris into the landscaping beds in that area, killing plants. County staff had worked to restore the affected sections by planting perennial peanut ground cover, she said.

FPL’s LED lighting project in final stages

Another update Siesta Chamber members received during their Aug. 15 quarterly meeting concerned Florida Power & Light Co.’s efforts to replace the high pressure sodium lights with LED fixtures on the 325 poles it owns and maintains on the north and south ends of the island.

As of Aug. 14, Lisa Cece, the county’s special district coordinator, reported, Florida Power & Light (FPL) had just about completed that project. Members can take note of the new fixtures, she said, as they “drive up and down the main roads …”

FPL crews were working on some “parts and pieces,” she added, to complete the switch.

Then Michael Shay, manager of the Village upkeep for the Maintenance Corp., explained that the project did not involve the lighting in the Village.

A graphic shows lighting in an area after LED streetlights have been installed (top) and in a situation with high pressure sodium lights. Image courtesy FPL

Just as she had told Siesta Key Association members during their June meeting — when FPL representatives were present to discuss their initiative — Cece explained to the Chamber members on Aug. 15 that the Maintenance Corp. had not requested such an upgrade for the Village. A proposal for any project like that, she said, necessitates a discussion of the corporation’s budget and the potential expense.

The Maintenance Corp., she continued, already has purchased four complete sets of the decorative streetlights installed in the Village during the 2008 beautification project, so it can replace them as needed. In fact, she noted, one pole was knocked down a few years ago, so a new pole had to be erected in its place. Several fixtures had been damaged, too, she added, so new ones had to be installed.

In the future, though, she continued, it will be possible to pursue a conversion to LED lighting in the Village, if the property owners who are assessed for the maintenance wish to incur that expense.

By the way, Cece added, the assessments for those property owners will go down with the next tax bills.

Help needed for the Crystal Classic

With the Siesta Chamber preparing for the 2018 Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival, which will be held Nov. 9-12 on Siesta Public Beach, the Vendor Village already has been sold out, Chamber Executive Director Ann Frescura reported during the Aug. 15 members meeting.

Maria Bankemper, whose family owns the Best Western Plus-Siesta Key Gateway hotel and who serves as the chair of the Crystal Classic, pointed out that this was the earliest that all the Vendor Village spots had been taken, Frescura said.

The festival began in 2010.

“That’s a good indication of the interest in that event,” Frescura added.

The Chamber is seeking volunteers, as usual, to assist with the Crystal Classic, Frescura said. “It takes an army to pull this one off. … There’s nearly 300 people that are needed for all the positions and all of the time slots,” she continued. “If you can give your time and energy, we sure appreciate it.”

Frescura also asked the meeting attendees to encourage friends and loved ones to volunteer.

Turtles taking advantage of the open space

The News Leader recently learned from Dennis Madden, who owns property on North Beach Road, that three sea turtle nests have been marked off near that vacated road segment.

This sea turtle nest is in an area further from the Gulf of Mexico, near Beach Access 2. Photo courtesy of Dennis Madden

Madden sent the News Leader photos of the nests, which are surrounded by the usual post-and-tape system designed to keep them undisturbed.

The nests are close to the Beach Access 2 end of the county-vacated 357 feet of the road, which remains open to the public except for motor vehicle traffic.

This sea turtle nest is just north of the vacated segment of North Beach Road. Photo courtesy of Dennis Madden

In its latest website report regarding sea turtle nesting data for this season — through Aug. 11 — Mote Marine noted that a total of 357 nests had been found on Siesta. However, that was quite a decline from the 636 figure reported for the same period of 2017.

As the News Leader noted in a story last week, red tide is believed to have contributed to deaths of wildlife, including turtles.

The third nest also is just a bit outside the vacated North Beach Road segment. Photo courtesy of Dennis Madden