When James Harriott, the county’s executive director of public works, appeared before the County Commission July 26 to resolve questions about the operations of the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp., he brought up an ancillary problem that has drawn Village attention for more than a year: a malfunction in the landscaping irrigation system.
Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson, who lives on the Key, was keen to get that problem resolved as soon as possible.
While Harriott was discussing the SKVMC potential budget for the 2012 fiscal year, he mentioned that he learned about the leak just that day.
“I’m told that (maintenance crews) turn (the water) on and off,” he said, though the irrigation system should run automatically.
“Is that leak something that was there from the very beginning, when the (Siesta Village Beautification Project) was finished?” Patterson asked.
Harriott said he understood the problem was discovered six months to a year after the project’s completion.
In fact, Pelican Press staff members were among the first to notice the leak in a landscaping bed across the street from the Pelican’s office at 5011 Ocean Blvd., and reported it immediately.
When Patterson asked whether the irrigation system was under warranty, Harriott replied, “That is something we need to … check over the next few weeks.”
“It is possible for a truck or Lord knows what to screw up an irrigation system,” Patterson said, and it’s also the system was not installed properly. The leak might not be the responsibility of the Maintenance Corp., she added.
The maintenance budget discussion proceeded, but Patterson came back around to the leak before the board completed that agenda item.
“A water leak is just not acceptable,” Patterson said. Unless people in the Village damaged the irrigation system, she said, “I believe we need to get in there and fix it, and that’s we, the county … In construction sometimes, things happen.”
“We can definitely (fix it),” Harriott said. “It is a reasonable request.”
The work would not have to come out of Siesta Key Village Public Improvement District tax revenue for Village maintenance, he added.
When Patterson asked if her fellow commissioners agreed with her on that point, no one said a word.
The same day the County Commission addressed the Maintenance Corp. problems again, Village property owner Chris Brown sent an email to Mark Smith, chairman of the Maintenance Corp. board, declining the board seat to which Brown had been elected July 13.
“Even though I know we share the same goals in keeping the Village looking beautiful,” he wrote to Smith, “I expressed several concerns about liability issues pertaining to (the corporation). Those concerns, plus some other issues, prevent me from accepting the nomination and election to the board. If it is too late to unwind the process, please consider this a resignation.”
Brown, owner of The Hub Baja Grill, the Beach Club and The Cottage, started the debate over the Maintenance Corp. when he filed a lawsuit against the county Jan. 31, contesting the $9,136.28 he had been assessed in 2010 for the Village upkeep.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested two people last week on grand theft charges following kayak thefts from Sunrise Cove on Midnight Pass Road.
According to the report from Det. G. Carrillo, deputies began surveillance July 25 of Robert M. Briley, 22, of 5011 Susan Ave., in connection with recent kayak thefts in the central part of the county. Within a short time, they observed Briley picking up a U-Haul truck from a rental location near his home and returning home with it. Several hours later, Briley and Christine C. Kellett, 33, also of 5011 Susan Ave., drove out to Sunrise Cove, according to the report. When they arrived, they walked around to the north side of the condominium complex to look at kayaks in storage racks.
Briley and Kellett returned home, the report said, only to come back that night. When they arrived this time, they backed up the U-Haul close to the storage racks and stepped out of the truck. Just as Briley was opening the rear door of the U-Haul, another vehicle drove in, catching them in its headlights. They jumped in the truck and started to drive away, but they didn’t get far, before stopping so Briley could shut that rear door.
Deputies observed the pair drive to the 7-Eleven on Midnight Pass Road. After a few minutes there, Briley and Kellett returned to Sunrise Cove and backed into the same area near the storage rack. Deputies watched them load two kayaks into the U-Haul, the report said. When they started to drive away, deputies arrested them. It was 10:10 p.m.
The report said the kayaks were valued at $2,750.