Although Siesta Key business owners say they are happy to see some recognition of the island’s No. 1 beach ranking, the signs Sarasota County workers put up Sept. 1 are not winning rave reviews.
“I think, actually, (the signs) could be much improved upon, but we’re glad to get something up,” said Sarasota County Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson, who lives on the north end of the Key.
Patterson said Tuesday she intended to bring up the matter during a regular County Commission meeting next week. She hopes that one or more artists on the Key might be interested in submitting designs for consideration for a better way to promote the No. 1 beach status Dr. Beach, aka Dr. Stephen Leatherman of Florida International University, granted the Key in late May.
In an email he sent to all the county commissioners Aug. 31, Rob Lewis, the county’s executive director of planning and development services, wrote, “We developed (in-house) a simple sign related to the Siesta No. 1 ranking that (the county is) producing in (its) sign shop and installing at 21 locations leading onto Siesta Key and on the Key itself … They are within regulations and do not require any special permit. They will be mounted on existing SCAT stop sign posts.”
During their Aug. 2 meeting, members of the Siesta Key Village Association broached the idea of banners on both the north and south ends of the Key that proclaimed the No. 1 beach status. However, zoning personnel said they were not sure such banners would be permitted under existing county regulations.
Lewis added in his Aug. 31 email, “(The signs) can remain up as short a time or as long as you direct. We just did not want to miss an opportunity to celebrate and market this great recognition during (Labor Day weekend).”
The language on the sign, “Siesta Beach #1 Beach USA,” had been coordinated with staff in the parks and recreation and communications departments as well as the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau, Lewis wrote. “We wanted to keep it simple,” he added, so it would be complementary to future marketing measures.
Among the SCAT stops with the new sign are those on Siesta Drive west of U.S. 41 and east of Higel Avenue; Midnight Pass Road at Stickney Point Road and Solitude Lane; Ocean Boulevard at Treasure Boat Way — just outside the Village — and Beach Road at Calle De La Siesta and Beach Way.
Lourdes Ramirez, former Siesta Key Association president and self-described community activist, wrote a blog post Aug. 31 about the signs.
“I believe staff should have asked for some advice because we could have made it more aesthetically pleasing,” she wrote.
Kevin Cooper, executive director of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, said he watched county workers put up the signs Sept. 1, starting at the SunTrust Bank branch on Ocean Boulevard.
“My hope is that that won’t be the final piece of the effort we see out here on the island,” he said.
“They’re too industrial,” SKVA President Russell Matthes told the Pelican Press Tuesday. With the Key having such a touted beach, he said, the island needs “a beautiful sign to prove it.”