Siesta Seen

Paving planned for part of Turtle Beach parking lot; Old Salty Dog owner buys property next door; Siesta Village preliminary property values up; and Cosentino continues to make progress on proposed Sarasota County Charter amendments

An engineering drawing shows details about the paving project for Turtle Beach Park. Image courtesy Sarasota County

For years, residents who live near Turtle Beach Park have complained about the dust from the parking lot.

During comments to the County Commission on Dec. 14, 2016, a Sunrise Cove resident, Ed Schmidt, represented about 155 owners in the condominium complex located at 8877 Midnight Pass Road, he said, when he asked for improvements. The older parking lot in the park, he pointed out, “has been there for 40 years, and [the construction crew] used broken shell as a matrix over there.” 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 a long time “and have gotten no response.”
A couple who lives in Sunrise Cove emailed county staff to complain, as well, that year, and they received a response from Shawn Yeager, the Beaches & Water Access Division manger in the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department. In a Dec. 2, 2016 email, Yeager agreed with a point the writers 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.”

An aerial view shows the site where the paving is planned. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Yeager was referring to county improvements at Turtle Beach Park.

The rain “on this surface turns the powder into a slippery slurry which encroaches on … the sidewalk & pavement,” the couple responded, noting their dissatisfaction with his explanation.

Finally, help really is on the way.

During their regular meeting on May 22, the county commissioners unanimously approved the spending of $157,206 to pave one of the remaining shell areas of the parking lot. That section is located in the northeast corner of the park, fronting Midnight Pass Road and the park’s large picnic pavilion. “Vehicles, delivery trucks, and school buses frequently use this parking lot area to [turn around] on Midnight Pass Road,” a May 22 staff memo noted. (The park is near the southernmost part of the Key.)

Additionally, the Siesta Key Breeze open-air trolley stops approximately every 20 minutes in that parking area as it travels between Turtle Beach Park and Morton’s Siesta Market in Siesta Village.

The memo also noted that, when it rains, the trolleys and other vehicles track shell onto Midnight Pass Road and the adjoining sidewalk.

The project will entail the widening and pavement of the parking lot’s entries; paving the travel way; paving the Americans with Disabilities Act parking space; improvements to the portions of the affected sidewalks along Midnight Pass Road; and the installation of a stormwater retention area “to divert water from where it typically stands at the southernmost entry [to the parking area].”

A banner on the fence outside the playground area at Turtle Beach Park notes that the Siesta Key Breeze trolley stops in the park. Rachel Hackney photo

The parking lot work is scheduled to be completed this summer, the memo added. When The Sarasota News Leaderasked for a more definitive timeline, Carolyn Brown, director of the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, responded in late May that she anticipated completion of the work within six to eight weeks, which would be before the end of July.

As for the funding: $133,826 will come out of penny sales tax revenue remaining from the allocations for the improvements both to Turtle Beach Park and Siesta Public Beach, the memo noted. The remaining $23,380 will come from the Tourist Development Tax revenue set aside for projects and events, the memo explained.

In 2006, the memo said, the Turtle Beach Park project was added to the county’s Capital Improvement Program. It entailed the remodeling of the community center; replacement of the docks; renovation of the accessible dune walkover; installation of a new dock; paving one part of the parking lot; landscaping; and construction of sidewalks, a new playground and a canoe/kayak launch; and the addition of a wash-down rack for water vessels. The project was completed in December 2016, the memo pointed out.

The Siesta Public Beach Park improvements were finished in early 2016.

The county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department staff “has been corresponding with members of the Sunrise Cove Condominiums concerning their complaint and the proposed solution,” the memo noted.

Commissioner Alan Maio made the motion to approve the project, and Commissioner Paul Caragiulo seconded it.

“This is on south Siesta,” Maio explained to his colleagues. “It’s been a while coming. We’ve responded to requests.” The reason for the delay, he continued, was the need “to come up with a way” to deal with part of the parking lot without “cannibalizing it with a lot of stormwater retention [ponds], and this is a great solution.”

“For $157,000, all we’re getting is pavement for our trolley to turn around,” Chair Nancy Detert added, “and to create a lot less dust for local residents. We’re not paving the entire [shell lot].”

Another land sale in the Village

On May 22, the long-vacant property between the Old Salty Dog and the SunTrust Bank branch on Ocean Boulevard was sold for $600,000 to Judy A. Fryer of Sarasota, county Property Appraiser’s Office records show.

Fryer also owns the site of the Old Salty Dog, which she bought in June 1992, the Property Appraiser’s Office records say.

The seller of the 5027 Ocean Blvd. parcel was the Fledging Point Trust. The previous record for that land on the Property Appraiser’s Office website listed John A. Ericson as trustee. A search of the records of the Sarasota County Clerk of Court and County Comptroller found that the death certificate for John A. Ericson was recorded on May 22, the same date as the property transaction.

The property at 5027 Ocean Blvd. has stood vacant for a number of years. Photo from Google Maps

The last establishment to open in the 5027 Ocean Blvd. space — a business that featured wine tastings — closed during the recession, as the News Leader recalls the situation. Last year, the Property Appraiser’s Office records say, the market value of the property was $428,400. The land area is 5,000 square feet, with the building dating to 1957.

Since November 2017, online county permitting records note, three inquiries were made regarding the zoning and parking regulations for the site. One, submitted on Jan. 4, was from a real estate agent who wanted to know what could be built on the site, that record says.

On Jan. 31, Barry C. Seidel of American Property Group in Sarasota had listed the property for rent at a rate of $35.42 for a total of 1,360 square feet.

People who paid close attention to the “For Sale” sign on the parcel have told the News Leaderthat it specified no restaurant could go into the space. However, when the News Leader posed a question about uses of the property to county staff, Mary Beth Humphreys, customer service manager in the Planning and Development Services Department, responded that the property is zoned Commercial General, and a restaurant is an approved use in that zoning district. “The County doesn’t have any stipulation about a restaurant on this parcel,” Humphreys added.

The News Leader found no restrictions in the deed that Fryer signed, either.

The News Leader was unsuccessful in trying to reach Fryer this week to ask about her plans for the site. Stay tuned.

Speaking of Village property …

The preliminary taxable property values released by the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office in late May show the Siesta Village Public Improvement District’s value is up 7.29%, compared to the certified value last year.

The preliminary report puts the total taxable value for this year at $72,814,878.

The final property values will be released by July 1, according to state law, as local governments are at work on their budgets for the next fiscal year.

The revenue from the special tax the property owners in the Public Improvement District pay is used for upkeep in Siesta Village.

Cosentino Charter amendments update

A rendering Siesta resident Mike Cosentino commissioned shows how North Beach Road could look if the county had opted to build a step revetment system to protect it. Image from reopenbeachroad.com

The News Leader took the opportunity on May 29 to check in with the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office to find out the status of the Sarasota County Charter petition drive that Siesta resident Mike Cosentino began in July 2016.

The petitions Cosentino and supporters have been gathering on behalf of Reopen Beach Road would try to revoke the County Commission’s May 2016 vacation of a 357-foot-long segment of North Beach Road and make it impossible, under the aegis of the Charter, for any future board to abandon similar county-owned waterfront property.

The elections office provided these figures on May 29: The total for proposed Amendment 4.1 10,226; for proposed Amendment 4.2, 9,458.

He has made progress since early April, when the Supervisor of Elections Office reported the number of valid signatures on the petition for proposed Amendment 4.1 was 8,489; he had 8,362 on petitions for proposed Amendment 4.2.

Cosentino needs 13,866 valid voter signatures to get the proposed amendments on a ballot.

As for the proposed amendments themselves: The first says the following: “Article III, Section 4.1.Preserve County-Owned Parks, Preserves, Beach and Water Access and Waterfront Vistas. The County shall not sell, and shall retain ownership of, County-owned Parks and Preserves, and shall not vacate or sell County-owned road segments or right of way along or abutting any beach, river, creek, canal, lake, bay, gulf access or waterfront vista. The County shall encourage maximum right of way use for public access and viewing of waterfront vistas. Whenever feasible, the County shall make these areas accessible to mobility impaired persons.”

The second says, “Article III, Section 4.2. Siesta Key Beach Road as Public Right of Way.The County shall rescind the vacation of, or re-acquire, Beach Road on Siesta Key as it existed on January 1, 2016, and shall not vacate or sell this County-owned road segment(s) or right of way. The County shall provide maximum right of way use of Beach Road for public access, including vehicular use and viewing of waterfront vistas. The County shall make Beach Road accessible to mobility impaired persons.”

1 thought on “Siesta Seen

  1. Mike is our very own Don Quixote. However, he’s not delusional. He knows exactly what he’s doing and what he is doing is right. The result will determine if justice does still exist.

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