The Siesta Key Village Association met for the first time in 2014 on Tuesday, and wedding permits for Siesta Beach Park were the meeting’s hot topic, foreshadowing what will likely be a two-year-long dialogue between county officials and Siesta business owners about how to best mitigate the potentially harmful impacts of the Siesta Beach renovations to the island’s tourism industry.
SKVA members raised concerns about rumors that Sarasota County Parks and Recreation would be canceling all wedding permits at Siesta Beach in 2015, claiming such a move would negatively impact the revenue of restaurants, retailers and hotels that depend on tourist dollars for their bottom lines.
“This could really impact businesses on the Key,” said Russell Matthes, co-owner of the Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar. “You can't just say no to people wanting to get married at Siesta and have them go to Venice Beach or Turtle Beach.”
County officials, however, rejected the rumor, declaring that wedding permits will be available for all of 2015. The only caveat, according to Sarasota County Press Information Officer Curt Preisser, is that during the 2015 ‘wedding season,’ which runs from March through June, the park’s historic pavilion will be under construction, requiring couples to move their ceremonies to other beach access sites.
“It’s not that we aren’t going to be doing weddings at the beach, it’s just that we can’t guarantee a particular section of the beach will be available,” Preisser said. “County Parks and Recreation know that wedding days are very special days. There are access points to the beach that are going to be accessible and staff will be willing to work with couples wishing to get married during that time.”
Other topics discussed at Tuesday’s meeting included:
- Siesta residents still have concerns about a proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to mine Big Pass for Lido Beach sand. Siesta Key Association Member Michael Shay, who attended Tuesday’s SKVA meeting, said that the Corps had yet to follow up with a detailed study on how the proposed dredging project and its three erosion control jetties (known as groins) would impact Siesta Key beaches. Shay said the Corps had pushed back the release of the study from January to March. “The fact is they don't know what impact it will have on Siesta,” said SKA Member Peter van Roekens, who also attended Tuesday’s SKVA meeting.
- SKVA members also discussed county waste management policies for Siesta Key as well as maintenance and upkeep issues related to recycling containers located along Ocean Blvd., which runs through the Siesta Key Village.
- SKVA members also called for an update from the Sarasota County Commission on the status of a proposed trolley service intended to provide transportation out the Key.
The next Siesta Key Village Association meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m., Feb. 3, at the Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar, 5250 Ocean Blvd, Siesta Key.
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