+ The Key must remainsafe for everyone
As I write this, I am sitting on Siesta Beach, close to where the allegedly drunken young men involved in the Donna Chen accident knocked over beach umbrellas, as described by witnesses.
Regarding the death of Mrs. Chen, I have three thoughts:
1. These three men caused a morning of disturbances, which a number of witnesses and Sheriff’s Office deputies saw.
I cannot believe there is no law on the books that would hold up in court to allow if the deputies had detained these men. Public intoxication? Creating a public disturbance? There has to be something which would have given the deputies legal support if they had detained or arrested the men, taken away their keys away or watched them get into their vehicle.
2. The county ordinance allowing for open containers of alcohol on the beach is dangerous and serves no public health purpose.
At a Siesta Key Association meeting several years ago, a county official announced the new policy. As a nurse and health educator, I saw many red flags. I asked if the county planned to have signage cautioning people about the use of alcohol in the sun and advising tourists of the potential dangers of dehydration, injury and possible water mishaps, including drowning.
The answer was, “No, that is not our responsibility.”
I am still opposed to this alcohol policy and want it off the books.
How many of your readers know that, last spring, by a very narrow margin, the sheriff nixed a plan set forth by an entrepreneur to host a spring break event for thousands of college students, which would have turned the Village and this beautiful beach into a Fort Lauderdale fiasco?
Sheriff Tom Knight said he didn’t have enough officers to cover such an event. I am sure one of these coming weeks, maybe even during this spring, we will see some event of that nature.
3. It takes courage for us to define ourselves. Sarasota County Government must decide whether Siesta Public Beach and Siesta Key will be decent, family-oriented destinations, with the Key a home for wealthy retirees and other people and their families — a place to come and enjoy the beach, sun and water.
Those are the people who return year after year — plus the tourists who come from all over the world for the Crystal Classic Master Sandsandsculpting Competition and the athletes who come for the beach competitions. These are the people who put real dollars into the local coffers, not college students on binges or intoxicated men like the three involved in the Chen tragedy.
No one wants to see intoxicated, out-of-control drunks on the beach and in the streets, restaurants and bars of Siesta Key. Certainly no one wants to drive when they are on the road!
Tourism is funny stuff. Word-of-mouth following personal experiences is the foundation for success. Sarasota County officials, the sheriff and the residents of Siesta Key and the rest of Sarasota County must have the courage to define Siesta Key as a decent place to visit and live.
We must all come forward now to address the concerns of Mrs. Chen’s grieving and devastated family .
Nancy R. Wilson
+ Resident offers ideafor crosswalk lights
I just read the Jan. 12 article about the dark crosswalks in the Village. We own a place just north of the Village and we know first-hand how dark the crosswalks can be and how hard they are for drivers to see.
I have attached a picture of some lighting we have used in our town, Elizabethtown, Penn. These are LED lights that are laid in a brick, paved walkway in our downtown. The LED lights are lit 24 hours per day and use very little electricity. The lights come in small blocks that are the same depth as the bricks and pavers. They are simply laid in sand or stone, as the bricks and pavers are.
The lights can be used in roadways and can be driven on.
Our town has a sister city in Ireland, which some of our borough officials saw; they decided to bring the idea to our town. To say the least, the response has been very favorable. I think these would be a great way to light up the crosswalks. They would most lightly improve safety and provide a nice touch to the Village’s already terrific charm.
Please feel free to pass this thought on to the Siesta Key Association and Sarasota County officials. I would be glad to get more information on the lights as needed.
Dear Mr. Ulrich,
The Pelican Press has forwarded your letter to Peter van Roekens, vice president of the Siesta Key Association. He plans to use the information in a meeting this week among representatives of the Key and county officials.