Siesta Seen

Handicapped parking space issues remain; Light Up the Village brought more visitors than expected; some problems have occurred during fundraising events at the beach; and Village maintenance wins kudos

Susan Stahley. Rachel Hackney photo
Susan Stahley. Rachel Hackney photo

On Dec. 1, Sarasota County Code Enforcement Officer Susan Stahley told about 15 members of the Siesta Key Village Association (SKA) that she planned to give the manager of the Key Corners plaza on Ocean Boulevard seven more days to add back a handicapped parking space that had been removed and replace a missing sign at the existing handicapped space.

Because more than 25 parking vehicle spots are available for the complex, she pointed out, the County Code requires two handicapped parking spaces.

She planned to walk by there after the SKVA meeting ended, she said. If the situation had not been corrected, she pointed out, she would issue the manager a Notice of Violation.

When I walked by there following the meeting, the situation had not changed from last month.

During the Nov. 3 SKVA meeting, Treasurer Helene Hyland reported that she had been in contact with Stahley about the handicapped designation having been painted over in the space directly in front of Napoli’s Italian Restaurant. Additionally, Hyland said, a sign marking that space for handicapped access had been removed and replaced with a sign denoting the spot for customers of Key Corners restaurants.

When Stahley noticed the handicapped space designation painted in a spot parallel to Avenida Messina was “almost invisible” in June, she reported on Dec. 1, she gave the manager a courtesy notice that improvement was needed. He had it repainted in about three days, she added.

As for the handicapped parking sign at that space, she continued, “I don’t know why it’s been removed since then. … I don’t get that.”

When Siesta Key Association (SKA) President Michael Shay asked how much time Stahley normally gives a person to correct a situation such as the missing signage, she replied, “Ten or 14 days.”

A handicapped parking sign is missing from one Key Corners space. Rachel Hackney photo
A handicapped parking sign is missing from pole in front of one Key Corners space. Rachel Hackney photo
The former handicapped parking space in front of Napoli's is still missing its signage. Rachel Hackney photo
The former handicapped parking space in front of Napoli’s is still missing its signage. Rachel Hackney photo

Light Up the Village

During the SKVA meeting this week, board members discussed the fact that the holiday season kickoff for Siesta Village — Light Up the Village — “seemed to have gone really well” on Nov. 28, as President Wendall Jacobsen put it.

(From left) Russell Matthes, Wendall Jacobsen, Kay Kouvatsos and Roz Hyman are members of the SKVA board. Rachel Hackney photo
(From left) Russell Matthes, Wendall Jacobsen, Kay Kouvatsos and Roz Hyman are members of the SKVA board. Rachel Hackney photo

However, Russell Matthes, co-owner of the Daiquiri Deck restaurants, said, “It was a little overwhelming” in terms of the crowd size. More people showed up than the SKVA members, who sponsor the event, had expected.

As for the parade, Matthes continued, “It’s turning into a parade.” (See the related story in this issue.)

What began just as a means of bringing Santa Claus into the Village has grown over the years, he pointed out. If the number of entries keeps expanding, he added, should the SKVA “make it official … or do we cap [the size]?”

“I think it should still stay a surprise,” SKVA Vice President Smith replied, drawing laughter.

Following the SKVA meeting, members who participated in planning Light Up the Village stayed to hold a wrap-up session, when they said they would weigh the pros and cons of the Nov. 28 event, including the parade. They asked Sgt. Jason Mruczek of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to stay, too, so he could offer comments about what he and his officers dealt with during Light Up the Village.

Before the regular SKVA meeting began, Mruczek told me that things went generally well from a law enforcement standpoint. However, he said it did take quite a while for all the visitors to leave the Village.

A few concerns about other events

Mark Smith. Rachel Hackney photo
Mark Smith. Rachel Hackney photo

During the Dec. 1 session, SKVA Vice President Mark Smith reported that the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Sandfest fundraiser on Nov. 6 was a success, though attendance was a little lower than usual.

Sandfest was held at Siesta Public Beach, where renovations remain under way. “Bathrooms were closed down, which made it uncomfortable for some,” he added.

Referring to Siesta organizations and Sarasota County staff at the beach, he continued, “We need to all get together on the same page [regarding] the public’s use of public facilities.”

“You’re so absolutely right,” responded County Commissioner Al Maio, a guest at the meeting. “You and I exchanged no less than a dozen phone calls during this event,” he told Smith.

That was during the Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition, Smith noted, when other issues arose.

Maio said he would schedule a time for Smith and other Chamber representatives to talk with Carolyn Brown, director of the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, and some of her staff regarding problems that had arisen. Maio indicated he also would attend the session, which he suggested be held after the holidays.

“Absolutely,” Smith replied.

As for the Crystal Classic, held Nov. 13-17: Smith said attendance appeared to have been good, though the numbers were not available yet. Proceeds go to Mote Marine’s Sea Turtle Conservation & Research Program.

Village upkeep

During his Dec. 1 SKVA meeting report, SKA President Shay — who also serves as the liaison for the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. — said, “Things have been going well with [Buccaneer Landscape Management],” which has a $130,000 contract with Sarasota County to handle the Village upkeep.

Flags fly over the gazebo in Siesta Village on a cloudy morning. Rachel Hackney photo
Flags fly over the gazebo in Siesta Village on a cloudy morning. Rachel Hackney photo

After a monthly walk through the Village to point out any issues that need to be addressed, Shay continued, county staff members prepare a punch list with those items and deliver it to Buccaneer. “And the last couple of months, [Buccaneer crews have] been competing 90 percent, if not more [of those items] before the next walk-through,” Shay added. “So that’s a real big improvement on their service.”

Further, Shay pointed out, the Buccaneer employee who oversees the Siesta work answers Shay’s phone calls promptly. “I do want to give them kudos,” Shay said of Buccaneer’s employees.

SKVA President Wendall Jacobsen thanked Shay for “staying on top of them.”