Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson addressed members of the Siesta Key Association for the 14th time during the group’s annual breakfast meeting March 23.
Her speech, which members have come to refer to as “the state of the Key,” covered island issues, as well as countywide happenings. Attendees gave Patterson a standing ovation before she handed the mic to Sarasota County Administrator Randall Reid.
Patterson and Reid discussed pending changes to Sarasota 2050, a long-term planning document aimed at encouraging specific types of development east of I-75. Both encouraged Siesta residents to get involved in community discussions of the plan’s future, despite distance from possible developments.
Opponents of changing the plan to spur development have said proposed amendments would remove environmental regulations and harm natural habitats.
“Please make sure they don’t kill the golden goose,” Patterson said. She is the only current member of the Sarasota County Commission who was serving while the plan was enacted.
Patterson also announced a capital project on Turtle Beach that includes a new gazebo, picnic tables and a kayak launch. Construction of those improvements will cost about $500,000, she said.
“They won’t be huge changes, but (the park) will be improved,” Patterson said.
Siesta Key Association President Catherine Luckner announced the organization’s board of directors would remain unchanged in 2013, and she praised members for using their personal expertise to help solve community problems.
Bob Luckner and Ron Flynn are assisting the county’s emergency management staff in implementing a new communication system and solving budget issues, and Peter van Roekens patrols area inlets to make intricate measures of depth.
That played into Reid’s initiative to involve the aging and retired community in policy and planning decisions. He networked with SKA board member Deet Jonker, a retired executive for ABC-TV, and cited the population of former CEOs, COOS and other executives as a valuable resource to the government.
Luckner concluded the meeting with a fitting poem by George Bernard Shaw:
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and, as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me. It is a sort of splendid torch, which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”