Siesta Seen

Sunrise Cove residents still seeking county solution for Turtle Beach parking lot problems; update provided on new Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar; ‘State of the County’ address details announced; Condo Council honors complexes for holiday lighting; and the SKA moves back its January meeting date

An aerial view shows the Sunrise Cove condominiums (right) near Turtle Beach Park. Image from Google Maps

Sunrise Cove residents, who live next to Turtle Beach Park on south Siesta Key, remain frustrated with the Sarasota County response to complaints they have aired through emails and in person to the County Commission, one of them told The Sarasota News Leader this week.

On Dec. 14, 2016, Ed Schmidt said he was representing about 155 owners at the condominium complex — located at 8877 Midnight Pass Road — in appearing before the commission. After thanking the board for the recent $21.5-million renourishment of Turtle Beach, Schmidt pointed to a problem he hoped the board could resolve.

The older parking lot at Turtle Beach Park “has been there for 40 years, and [the construction crew] used broken shell as a matrix over there,” he explained. Traffic has crushed that shell into a powder in the ensuing years, Schmidt continued. “And that powder blows around the property, and then when it rains, it becomes a soupy mess, and we have slip hazards on the pavement there.”

Schmidt told the board that Sunrise Cove residents have complained about the situation for years “and have gotten no response.”

Another resident of the complex emailed county staff about the issue, Schmidt pointed out, and the reply from staff “is totally inappropriate and an embarrassment.”

Ed Schmidt addresses the board on Dec. 14, 2016. News Leader photo

Schmidt told the commissioners, “We’re asking for your help to make this an impervious driveway,” perhaps a macadam surface. He added that he is aware a retention pond would be necessary, but “I think there’s room to do it. I think some engineering needs to be done.” He was hopeful, he said, that the board would authorize such steps.

Commissioner Alan Maio, who represents Siesta Key as part of District 4, responded that he is often on the island, so he would take a look at the parking lot within the next couple of days. “I want to see it for myself,” Maio told Schmidt.

Additionally, Maio continued, he expected Deputy County Administrator Steve Botelho would ask for staff of the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department to assess the problem.

“Your patience is probably, at this point, exhausted,” Maio added to Schmidt. “But just take a breath and get a little more patience.”

Maio did note, “The minute we pave [the old lot], we lose parking spaces.” Nonetheless, he suggested the possibility of piping stormwater from that lot to an existing retention pond on the park site.

“Will we get an answer?” Schmidt asked.

“I am sure Mr. Botelho will require … direct contact with you,” Maio replied.

During a telephone interview on Jan. 4, Schmidt told the News Leader that Maio called him on Dec. 15 to tell him that staff would take care of the situation. Since then, Schmidt added, he had received no more information and no further county communication, in spite of his leaving his contact information with staff on Dec. 14, as Maio had asked.

“I was expecting to at least hear from someone in the county … and I’m very disappointed,” Schmidt added.

An engineering drawing shows the plans for Turtle Beach Park’s improvements. Image courtesy Sarasota County

When the News Leader contacted county staff this week to learn how the situation had been resolved — and to request copies of any emails from Sunrise Cove residents regarding the matter — county spokesman Drew Winchester provided three sets of email exchanges. However, Winchester offered no other response except the explanation that Shawn Yeager, the Beaches & Water Access Division Manger in the Parks Department, provided a Sunrise Cove resident in an email on Dec. 2, 2016. Yeager agreed with a point the writer had made — that the parking lot with the shell “is the only option for large vehicles to turn around …” He added that it has been used by buses and vehicles of similar size “for many years.”

Yeager continued, “The increased dust is likely a result of two factors. First, we are experiencing an unusually dry autumn this year. Second, there has been an increase in the truck traffic using the parking lot due to the Turtle Beach renovation project. The good news is that both of these factors are likely temporary in nature. The construction project will soon be completed, which will reduce the traffic to its normal volume, and once we get through this dry season we anticipate the dust settling and the problem being resolved. Your concern has been reviewed by our environmental specialists and there is no indication the dust poses a health hazard but we will certainly monitor the area.”

Yeager was referring to the improvements at Turtle Beach Park, which were completed recently. A new parking lot, a new playground and a kayak launch are among them.

Yeager concluded his email, “I do sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced as a result of the dry weather and our construction project.”

The resident who sent the original email and her husband replied to Yeager: “Sorry, but we do not think waiting for rain is a solution,” pointing out what Schmidt told the board on Dec. 14. The rain “on this surface turns the powder into a slippery slurry which encroaches on … the sidewalk & pavement,” the couple added.

An aerial photo taken in July shows the location of Turtle Beach Park as a segment of the south Siesta renourishment project area. Image courtesy Sarasota County

They asked Yeager to reassess his position on the matter.

During the Jan. 4 telephone interview with the News Leader, Schmidt called Yeager’s explanation “just totally irresponsible.”

He also pointed out that the new parking lot at Turtle Beach Park is made of a pervious concrete. That same material, he continued, “could be used over here” in the old lot, with underground piping to drain away the stormwater. “That’s an expensive deal; I understand that,” he conceded. Still, the county needs to take some appropriate steps to remedy the situation, Schmidt added.

More shell does not solve the problems, he said. “It truly does not.”

He planned to wait a couple more days for further county follow-up, he told the News Leader. If none was forthcoming, he said he would call Maio.

Construction update

On Dec. 22, passersby on Stickney Point Road could see the progress on the new Daiquiri Deck . Rachel Hackney photo

Work is proceeding “pretty smoothly” on the new Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar on Stickney Point Road, co-owner Troy Syprett told the News Leader this week.

The timeline still calls for the restaurant and coffee shop to open in late March or early April, Syprett said during a Jan. 3 telephone interview. Construction began in early July 2016.

The project has had “a few hiccups,” Syprett said, but “nothing major.” Mostly, Syprett pointed out, it was difficult to keep the work going at the usual pace during the holidays.

The restaurant is a joint project with the Tush family, which owns CB’s Saltwater Outfitters. The Tushes own the land and will maintain their existing retail store on the property, Syprett pointed out during a July interview with the News Leader.

The 900-square-foot coffee shop with about 20 seats will take the place of the old car wash on the site, he added. The second floor primarily will be used for storage, including coolers and freezers, while the 152-seat restaurant on the 6,000-square-foot third floor will be cantilevered over the first two floors.

The coffee shop within the new Daiquiri Deck building will front on Old Stickney Point Road. Rachel Hackney photo

‘State of the County’ address

At 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, County Commissioner Alan Maio will present his “State of the County” address to members of the Siesta Key Condominium Council.

The session will be held at Siesta Key Chapel, located at 4615 Gleason Ave. on the north end of the island.

County Commissioner Al Maio addresses Siesta residents. File photo

Last year, Maio faced a barrage of questions about Benderson Development’s plans for the property it owns on the northwest corner of the U.S. 41/Stickney Point Road intersection. Just months later, Benderson unveiled its Siesta Promenade proposal, so it is likely Maio will face a number of questions on that issue again this year.

The agenda for the Jan. 17 session also includes an update on the City of Sarasota/U.S. Army Corps’ of Engineers plan to dredge Big Sarasota Pass to renourish about 1.6 miles of South Lido Key Beach. (See the related story in this issue.)

Finally, the meeting will feature recognition of the winners of the Condo Council’s Holiday Lighting Contest and a report from the Sheriff’s Office.

And speaking of the Holiday Lighting Contest …

Kathryn Cunningham, chair of the Siesta Key Condo Council’s Holiday Lighting Committee, announced the names of the winners of the 2016 contest a bit too late for the News Leader to include them in its last issue before Christmas.

Cunningham called the displays “outstanding,” adding, “The overall effect of 22 condos sparkling with lights added a special enchantment to the holidays for all to enjoy.”

The winners follow:

Category 1 — 101 or more units

  • First place: Siesta Dunes.
  • Second place: Whispering Sands.
  • Third place: Peppertree Bay.

Honorable Mention: Excelsior Beach to Bay.

Category 2 — 51 to 100 units

  • First place: Crescent Arms.
  • Second place: Island House Beach Resort.
  • Third place: Anchorage.

Honorable Mention: La Siesta.

Category 3 — 50 or fewer units

  • First place: Sandpiper Beach Club.
  • Second place: Boca Siesta.
  • Third place: Tivoli by the Sea.

Honorable Mention: Marina del Sol.

SKA meeting reminder

SKA Second Vice President Catherine Luckner confers with Director Joe Volpe. Rachel Hackney photo

Acting Siesta Key Association President Bob Stein announced at the last meeting of the organization that the SKA would hold its next gathering — the first of 2017 — a week later than usual. That meeting is set for Thursday, Jan. 12, at 4:30 p.m. at St. Boniface Episcopal Church.

Stein pointed out that many people still might be away the first few days of the New Year, so the board members felt a one-week delay was in order.