Siesta Seen

SKA sells out annual breakfast meeting; concern voiced about median near public beach; Village irrigation problem cited at Siesta Center; question posed about lockers at the beach park; and help wanted: an Easter Bunny

Members of the Siesta Key Association gather for their annual breakfast meeting, held March 5. Rachel Hackney photo
Members of the Siesta Key Association gather for their annual breakfast meeting, held March 5. Rachel Hackney photo

The Siesta Key Association (SKA) marked a milestone last weekend: For the first time ever, the organization sold out its annual members’ breakfast meeting.

That was the announcement President Michael Shay made at the conclusion of the session, held on Saturday, March 5, at St. Boniface Episcopal Church.

Board member Beverly Arias told The Sarasota News Leader that 128 people registered, and 18 guests were expected. It appeared one table remained vacant, but that still would have put about 140 in the Community Room at St. Boniface.

As usual, Shay’s sense of humor was on display during the event. After Secretary Joyce Kouba — who heads up the Nominating Committee — introduced the officers and directors for the next year, Shay noted that she had given him a hard time because the programs for the meeting named all those people, though the official vote on the officers did not take place until that morning, before the breakfast gathering.

Shay said he told Kouba, “‘There was no other choice,’” given the need to have the programs ready.

When Sarasota County Commissioner Al Maio took his place at the podium for remarks, he pointed out that has been in office about 15 months, and “there’s always room to learn things.” He added, “I am absolutely infatuated with this deal I just heard about — that before you run for re-election, you get in, and there’s printed material already saying [you have been elected].” He drew plenty of laughter with that comment.

(For more on the meeting, see the related story in this issue.)

Some signage, please

As discussion ensued among Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) members on March 1 about traffic and parking issues related to Siesta Public Beach, Secretary Helene Hyland said, “I’m still concerned about some signage or light post or flasher” to make the end of a median near the beach entrance more visible to traffic.

A yellow post stands at the end of the median near Siesta Public Beach. Rachel Hackney photo
A yellow post stands at the end of the median near Siesta Public Beach. Rachel Hackney photo

She pointed out that the southbound lane of Beach Road curves around that median. “It’s very dangerous at night,” she added. Someone has put up a yellow post, she noted, but it has no reflector on it.

Lt. Debra Kaspar of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office responded that it was her understanding that the team in charge of the beach park renovations scaled back the original design of the median because of concerns about traffic.

The narrowing of the road around the median — which Hyland likened to a “finger” sticking out into traffic — is the problem, Hyland said.

“You’re driving straight, and they changed it with the upgrades [so] all of a sudden, the road bears in essence to the right,” Siesta Key Association (SKA) President Michael Shay explained. If a driver is not paying careful attention, Shay continued, “you may go up on [the median at that spot],” especially at night.

Kaspar promised to look into the situation.

The end of the median needs to be much more visible, Hyland stressed.

Keeping the Village beautiful

During his report at the March 1 SKVA meeting, Michael Shay — who also serves as the liaison between the SKVA and the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. — reported that the annual power washing had been completed, and new mulch had been added to the plant beds. “So we’re chugging along. We’ve had no issues — till right this second,” he added, looking at Kay Kouvatsos, co-owner of Village Café.

Visitors are highly visible in Siesta Village this month. Rachel Hackney photo
Visitors are highly visible in Siesta Village this month. Rachel Hackney photo

Kouvatsos pointed out a problem with the sprinklers in front of the restaurant: “Some of them pop up and [some] don’t pop up,” she said. “[The system] floods the sidewalk about a quarter to 9 in the morning.”

Shay replied that the Village irrigation system has been turned off, so the sprinkler heads to which she was referring belong to Siesta Center, where Village Café is located. “I did call the management company [for the complex] about six weeks ago and let them know they had a leak,” he noted.

Siesta Center has a maintenance person who is supposed to be available on the property, Shay continued, or at least “[that] is what I was told.”

As for other matters related to Village upkeep, he said, “Everything seems to be running very well,” except that some of the streetlights “are going out a little more often than normal,” he continued. An electrical issue has been discovered with No. 15 by Davidson’s Plaza, he said, so an electrician will be working on that one.

“Not No. 15!” Hyland responded teasingly, prompting Shay’s acknowledgement that it is across the street from her Coldwell Banker office.

Lockers at the beach?

Kay Kouvatsos. File photo
Kay Kouvatsos. File photo

At the end of the March 1 SKVA meeting, Kay Kouvatsos of Village Café brought up a question that a customer had asked her: Is it possible that the county might install lockers at Siesta Public Beach?

SKA President Michael Shay suggested she get in touch with Carolyn Brown, director of the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department for the county, or George Tatge, a Parks Department manager.

Having lockers for visitors to store items while they go out on the beach might prevent a lot of thefts, Kouvatsos added, noting that she was referring to the type of equipment that allows a person to put in a coin and then remove the key, which could be pinned to a swimsuit.

Lt. Debra Kaspar of the Sheriff’s Office reminded the SKVA members that the safest option for visitors is to lock all of their valuables in their vehicles before heading to the shore.

Later that day, the News Leader posed the question of lockers to Carolyn Brown.

“That concern never came up, to my knowledge,” during any of the public meetings held about the design of the renovations at the beach park, she said, though she noted she did not attend the earliest meetings. (John McCarthy, her predecessor, was still heading up the department when the discussions began.)

Brown did note that most lockers are made of metal, which raises the question of their longevity in the salt-air environment near the water.

“And where would they go” is the next question, she pointed out. The restrooms probably do not have enough space to accommodate them, she added.

No Easter Bunny?!

A flyer offers details about the Easter Egg Hunt & Games. Image courtesy Siesta Key Village Association
A flyer offers details about the Easter Egg Hunt & Games. Image courtesy Siesta Key Village Association

During the March 1 meeting of the Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) meeting, Treasurer Roz Hyman elicited a few witticisms after she announced, “I may not have an Easter Bunny this year” for the SKVA’s 15th Annual Easter Egg Hunt & Games, set for the morning of March 26 at Beach Access 5.

She was searching for a volunteer ranging in age from 12 to 15, she added. “This is the first year that I’m stuck for an Easter Bunny,” she pointed out, noting that she even had pressed her granddaughter into service in the past.

In response to questions about the size the youth would need to be to fit into the suit, Hyman said, “Five foot [tall] or bigger.”

“And the pay’s tremendous, right?” added SKVA Vice President Mark Smith, who was presiding at the meeting.

“All the smiles you can eat,” Hyman replied.

“No children have ever kicked the Easter Bunny,” Smith pointed out. “I think that’s good.”

“The Easter Bunny has been very good about getting nothing but hugs from the kids,” Hyman told him.

The Egg Hunt, by the way, is for children ages 1 to 6. Each youngster receives a stuffed animal and a “goody bag” filled with prizes. Registration information is on the SKVA website.