Shay finally gets FPL help for power outages; county staff details expenses associated with South Midnight Pass parking lot; Condo Council announces first meeting of the season; Canal Road dock license agreement follows a bit of a different path; man arrested for SKOB burglary; and St. Michael’s announces plans for January festival
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, regular readers may recall, Siesta resident Michael Shay’s frustrations about lack of power were exacerbated by a problem he and 52 of his neighboring residences had been contending with for months.
Since December 2016, Shay had been reporting to Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) that he was experiencing outages that ranged in duration from one to four hours.
He also provided the dates and times to The Sarasota News Leader: The Dec. 6, 2016 outage was from 2 to 6 p.m.; on May 24, he lost power from 4:35 p.m. to about 7 p.m.; on June 8, from 10:23 to 11:50 a.m.; and on July 31, from 9 to 10:05 a.m.
Irma left him without electricity for eight days.
On each of those occasions, when he contacted the power company, he received a response saying that 53 customers were affected. That was why Shay figured the problem had to be related to some piece of equipment in his immediate area of the Key.
He finally learned from a company representative that the matter was being turned over to an FPL engineer for resolution. No follow-up came, and then Irma hit.
After the News Leader recently left a voicemail for a company spokesman, seeking an update on the situation, Shay reported great news. In an Oct. 20 telephone interview, he told the News Leader, “I just got a call from FPL.”
An engineer named Bennett Wachob reviewed the history of the outages with him during that conversation, Shay continued. “Apparently, he had confirmed all those dates.”
Three of them, Wachob told Shay, were “created by vegetative issues” — in other words, trees interfering with power equipment. Those three cases were labeled “preventable,” Wachob conveyed to him, which meant FPL had not undertaken appropriate trimming of the affected areas. Wachob added that the complex where Shay lives is fed by two transformers, with a main line connecting the equipment. That main line, Wachob noted, was the problem.
Wachob then said he would drive over to Siesta so he could see the situation for himself and create a report on the areas that needed trimming.
Later on Oct. 20, Shay emailed the News Leader to say he had heard again from Wachob. “He said that he walked the entire ‘red line’ here and all of it needs trimming,” Shay wrote. Wachob was passing along the information to the FPL division that handles vegetation issues, Shay continued, noting that Wachob “says he will push to have it done next week,” and he would keep Shay informed.
“You look at all the trees we have out here on the island,” Shay told the News Leader. He had to confess, he added, that he found it “kind of scary” that tree limbs contacting power lines could cause outages such as those he and his neighbors had experienced.
Because Shay is the manager of the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. — which pays for the upkeep of Siesta Village — he also took the opportunity of his discussion with Wachob to report that four streetlights never came back on after Irma’s passage through the area. All were on Ocean Boulevard.
Shay is known for taking passes through Siesta Village at 5 a.m., which enables him to note any problems with the streetlights. If he sees one not shining, he takes down the ID number and just sends FPL an online report about it. Typically, Shay pointed out to the News Leader, “they send you an acknowledgment and work order number,” indicating it will take three to five business days for the light to be replaced.
However, given Irma’s impact on the power system — with hundreds of thousands of customers affected — Shay said the response he received after filing the report on the streetlights was along the lines of, “We’re backed up; we’ll try to get back to you in a couple of weeks.”
“I didn’t attempt to call them,” he added.
And he had not even reported the outages until a week after his own power came back on, he pointed out, knowing the statewide situation.
“[Wachob] asked me to send him the info [about the streetlights],” Shay wrote on Oct. 20, “and he also said we can meet and walk the area.”
How much for that parking lot?
Based on comments from county commissioners on Oct. 11, the county’s interim director of the Public Works Department raised a few eyebrows with the estimates he provided for transforming the county parcel at 6647 S. Midnight Pass Road into a parking lot.
The cost of using shell, Spencer Anderson wrote in an Aug. 17 memo, would be about $507,000, while asphalt would raise that to approximately $530,000.
With either price, Anderson’s memo pointed out that only 39 new spaces would be created.
With no changes, the memo noted, the site in its current configuration could “accommodate 14 vehicles with minimal cost.”
That parking area, as envisioned by staff, would not include any provisions for a pull-off for the Siesta Key Breeze trolley, a shelter, signage, lighting or security enhancements, the memo pointed out.
Why the half-a-million dollar-plus expense for a lot with just extra 39 parking spaces?
First, Anderson provided details about the size of the parcel, which actually is property of the county’s Public Utilities Department. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has been using part of it as a training area, commissioners have mentioned, but Sheriff Tom Knight has told staff his office no longer will have any interest in the site by the end of this year.
The parcel is about 1.84 acres, Anderson’s memo said, with 60 feet of frontage on Midnight Pass Road; the property is 732 feet deep. The far eastern end abuts Peacock Road, the memo noted.
The front area — with the building the Sheriff’s Office has used — is 315 feet deep, and it is 88 feet wide at the rear. The structure is about 70 feet by 40 feet, the memo said.
If the 39-vehicle lot were created, the memo explained, the Public Utilities Department could continue to use a groundwater tank on the site. That tank is about 100 feet by 100 feet, the memo noted.
“The rear section of the parcel is 3 to 4 feet lower than the remainder of the parcel and wet much of the year,” the memo continued. “County environmental staff visited the site and advised that the rear section contains a low quality wetland and hammock,” the memo added. “If there is a desire to look at the rear section for parking,” the memo noted, “construction planning must include wetland/hammock delineation,” along with a topographical survey and a mitigation plan.
The cost estimates for the larger new parking area incorporate a wooden shelter for a trolley stop, a turnaround for the Breeze, LED lighting, wayfinding signs and the preservation of “large trees,” the memo said.
The budget estimates include the standard county project management and internal service charges; design, engineering and permitting wrk; and construction, in-house inspection of that work and a contingency fee, the memo pointed out.
“Please note that these estimates are for planning level purposes only and subject to [final project details],” the memo concluded.
Another page of the Oct. 5 paid parking options report that the Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department staff provided to the County Commission showed a map with 16 parcels staff had researched for possible park-and-ride lot locations to supplement spaces at Siesta Public Beach. The map showing those parcels also noted the county property at 6647 S. Midnight Pass Road and county-owned land on Oakmont Place that will be available after the Siesta Key Wastewater Treatment Plant has been decommissioned.
The potential park-and-ride lots were all within 7 miles of the beach park, the memo pointed out. Staff had found them on the Realtor’s Multiple Listing Service. Most of them were vacant, the memo added.
Of the 16 privately owned parcels, four had been withdrawn from the market after staff began its research, the memo said. Additionally, the time set aside for offers had expired on another four, the memo explained.
Of those still available, the map’s legend said the highest price was $2.8 million for a 0.79-acre lot on Ocean Bouelvard.
The next highest figure was $2.6 million. That was the asking price for both a parcel in downtown Sarasota and one on Central Sarasota Parkway, south of Sarasota Square Mall. The former is 1.68 acres, the map noted, while the other is 1.06 acres.
Staff offered no other details about those properties, though the memo said further investigation would ensue if the board asked staff to take that step. The board did not.
Condo Council planning first meeting of the season
The Siesta Key Condominium Council will conduct a regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 3:30 p.m. at Siesta Key Chapel, the organization has announced.
Among the topics on the agenda are an update on the Lido Key Renourishment Project from Save Our Siesta Sand 2; details about the Christmas Decoration Contest; a report from the Sheriff’s Office; updates on the status of plans regarding the potential for a new hotel on the island and Benderson Development’s proposed Siesta Promenade; and results of a membership survey conducted in the spring.
The guest speaker will be Jeffery Bajza, president of Ameriflood Insurance, who will talk about Hurricane Irma and flood insurance claims, including those entailing disputes over whether water damage was a direct result of rain or wind. A question-and-answer session will follow his remarks.
Siesta Key Chapel is located at 4615 Gleason Ave., on the north end of the island.
Council leaders are asking members to mark their calendars for the next meeting, too, which will be held on Jan. 23, 2018.
A bit of an ‘oops’ regarding a dock license agreement
The request was listed on the Sept. 26 County Commission Consent Agenda of routine business items under a Planning and Development Services Department heading. And thanks to a unanimous vote of the board approving most of the Consent Agenda — including that item — a couple will be able to build a private dock with a single mooring area off Canal Road.
What was different about this matter, a county staff memo explained, was the series of events leading up to the vote.
The owners of the property at 348 Canal Road — Marko and Kelli Radosavljevic — had sought the dock license agreement so they could construct their dock within the Canal Road right of way “along the canal shoreline on the opposite side of the roadway” associated with their property. The memo pointed out, “Chapter 74 of the County Code prohibits the construction of docks or other private structures within public right-of-way, except as specifically authorized by the County Commission …”
The Radosavljevics also had submitted a permit application for the new dock, the memo noted. (Approval of the dock license agreement would be required prior to approval of the permit, the memo said.)
Staff recommended the board approve the dock license agreement, the memo added. As it turned out, the memo continued, the County Commission on April 25 inadvertently had approved such an agreement for the prior owner of the property, who had sold 348 Canal Road to the Radosavljevics on April 7. Even though the sale took place before the commission vote, it came after preparation of documents for the board’s April 25 agenda, the memo pointed out. “Staff was not informed of the sale of the property,” the memo added, “and it was discovered after the Board approved the Agreement. Therefore, the Dock License Agreement was not correctly established with the owner of the property and is legally non-transferable.”
That was why staff had prepared a revised dock license agreement for the Radosavljevics, so they could construct the dock in the same location proposed by the previous owner, Stacey James.
The memo did note that the County Commission has approved “several similar dock license agreements for nearby properties since 2011.” Should the board approve this one, the memo continued, staff would proceed with the review of the permit application “and ensure the dock design and construction meets all requirements in the [Water and Navigation Control Authority] Ordinance.”
SKOB burglary suspect arrested
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man on Oct. 25 in connection with the burglary of the Siesta Key Oyster Bar, the office reported.
Danny Limongelli, 51, of 8600 Culebra Ave., North Port, was charged with Unarmed Burglary of an Unoccupied Structure, according to his Sarasota County Jail record. He was ordered held at the Sarasota County Jail on $1,500 bond.
Deputies responded to the Siesta Key Oyster Bar (SKOB) — which is located at 5238 block of Ocean Blvd. — just after 8 a.m. on Oct. 25 after receiving reports of a burglary that allegedly had occurred overnight, a news release said.
When the manager arrived that morning, the report noted, the manager discovered that someone had entered the business by ripping open a door on the patio that had been locked with a deadbolt. The action had caused the doorframe to fall to the ground, the report added.
The manager saw that dollar bills patrons sign and staple to the walls and ceiling in a decorative fashion were missing, the report said. The manager estimated the total they represented was $150, the report continued.
After deputies obtained surveillance video from the restaurant, one of them was able to identify the suspect as Limongelli. That was because the deputy had had previous encounters with Limongelli, the report pointed out. Deputies also determined that the alleged burglary took place about 2:30 a.m. that day.
As Limongelli was known to frequent the Gulf Gate area, the news release said, deputies contacted people at several businesses in that area to advise them to be on the lookout for the signed dollar bills.
Just before 4 p.m. on Oct. 25, “thanks to the vigilance of a Publix employee,” the release added, deputies learned that Limongelli was in the Bealls Outlet at 6555 S. Tamiami Trail; he reportedly was attempting to use the bills from SKOB to pay for merchandise. He also allegedly still had numerous dollar bills from SKOB in his pockets at the time of his arrest, the report noted. Deputies identified the bills by the writing and signatures on them, the report said.
He was arrested at the outlet, the report noted.
Limongelli has three previous arrests since October 2016, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Corrections records show. On Oct. 27, 2016, he was charged with larceny involving at least $300 but less than $5,000, records say. He was released on Dec. 19, 2016 after serving time for that crime.
On Dec. 29, 2016, he was arrested near Whole Foods on First Street in downtown Sarasota and charged with petit larceny, first offense. This summer, he was charged with possession of not more than 20 grams of marijuana and with violation of probation on the petit larceny charge, the Corrections records say.
Earlier arrest records note Limongelli has a disability and is unemployed.
Early planning for Ol’ Times Church Festival
The Rev. Michael Cannon, the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church on Siesta Key, has announced that the parish family will hold its second Ol’ Times Church Festival the weekend of Friday, Jan. 26, and Saturday, Jan, 27, 2018.
The event will take place in the Parish Hall and on the grounds of the church, which is located at 5394 Midnight Pass Road.
This family-oriented festival will kick off at 6 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2018 in the Church Hall with an old-fashioned live auction, a news release says. Roy Baker, a parishioner who also is an auctioneer, will conduct that event. Anyone wishing to donate an item to the auction or anyone who would like additional information about it may contact Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org., the release notes.
As the auction date draws closer, a list of the many items that will be available will be found on the church’s website, www.stmichaelssiesta.com, the release adds. A person will be able to click on the “Festival” menu button for the details.
Cash or a check — with appropriate identification — will be required for payment on the night of the auction, the release points out.
The festivities on Jan. 27 will take place from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the release continues. They will include food, crafts, music, games, raffles and other activities for all ages, the release says.
“This event is open to all,” the release notes. The proceeds will go to St. Michael’s support of the Catholic Faith Appeal and its many charitable outreach programs, the release explains.
A parish committee has been meeting for several months to plan the event, the release says. Long-time parishioners Jack and Therese Swiatkowski are the chairs. “With the help of many other parishioners,” the release adds, “various [other] committees have been formed and the plans for this special event are well underway.”
The primary planning committee is looking for volunteers and sponsors, as well as food vendors and local craftspeople and artisans who would like to participate in the festival. Those who are interested are asked to email email@example.com.