Island Beat: Bus stop proposal draws condo residents' wrath

 
 

With many details yet to be decided about the final Siesta Public Beach improvements, more residents are letting county commissioners know about aspects of the plan they don’t like.

In late June, condominium owners at Crescent Royale began complaining about a proposal for a Sarasota County Area Transit stop “directly in front of our two buildings,” as Linda Berlin put it in an email to beach Project Manager Curtis Smith.

“And as I look at the drawing, it appears that this will be a rather large and invasive bus stop extending the length of one of the buildings,” she wrote. “This is totally unacceptable to our complex. We do not need persons lingering out in front of our homes, washing their beach items at our sidewalk wash stations, making noise, littering and, worst of all, spoiling our currently beautiful view of the Gulf. Can you imagine what it would be like for you to look out your 12-foot window and just see large groups of people and buses intruding on your privacy?”

Berlin added, “You have stated that you are going to encourage public transportation to get to Siesta Beach and that will just increase the number of those waiting for a bus. There must be an alternative location for a bus stop. Can it possibly be within the (beach) park? Perhaps at the location currently labeled as the ‘vehicular drop-off.’”

Another Crescent Royale resident, Richard Gerhardt, emailed County Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson.

“To be honest, I was astonished that such a bus stop proposal was made from a safety point of view,” he wrote. “Not only does it add to the vehicle congestion but has anyone considered the pedestrian-crossing problems from the beach that this will cause, especially for younger children? Yes, you may need a beach bus stop, but you need to re-evaluate where such a stop is located.”

A third property owner, Patty Wilde, concurred with Gerhardt.

“To have families, with children and beach chairs and floats dodging traffic to get to a bus stop is counterproductive and hazardous to not only the beachgoers, but also to the many drivers along the road,” she wrote. “One fatality is one too many.” 

Wilde proposed having the buses pull up in front of the concession stand at the beach to pick up and discharge riders.

An unsigned document dropped off at the Pelican Press offices this week also noted the numerous concerns with the bus-stop proposal. It pointed out that the 2009 beach-improvements concept plan designed by Glatting Jackson included a roundabout for bus and car passenger drop-offs. It adds that that idea was eliminated in the most recent plan “because a bus could not navigate the narrow space.”

Patterson responded to the email writers that the proposed SCAT bus pull-off project across from Crescent Royale “is a Sarasota County Congestion Management (CMS) project funded by the Florida Department of Transportation. ... Design has not started. During the design phase, options for location and type of bus stop amenities would be evaluated and a decision made about the exact location of a shelter and/or bench. FDOT has approved the funding for construction, and SCAT is working with Capital Management Services to identify funding for the design.”

Patterson added that the project is tied to plans for a Siesta Key trolley, which would reduce parking congestion at the beaches and within the Village.

“The trolley is planned to operate the entire length of Siesta Key from Southgate to Turtle Beach.”
The last report was that the trolley is not expected to go into service until fiscal year 2014-15, because of lack of local funding to speed up the timetable.
 
Taking issue
Pelican reader Shirley McElhose, of Sunrise Cove Yacht and Racquet Club, at 8878 Midnight Pass Road, called last week, disputing a Siesta deputy’s statement at the July Siesta Key Association meeting that no home burglaries had been reported recently on the Key.

“That’s a lie,” she said, adding that her condominium was robbed June 9. The investigating officers told her another home burglary had been reported the same day on Midnight Pass Road, McElhose said.

“(The burglars) stole all my good jewelry,” she said. “They just made splinters out of my front door.”

Therefore, when she read Deputy Chris McGregor’s remarks in the July 14 Island Beat column, she said, “I just seized.”

She suggested the Sheriff’s Office alert homeowners when burglaries take place on the Key, “so people can take precautions.”
 
New ownership
Lorraine’s Island Hair Design, 1208 Old Stickney Point Road, has a new owner.

Doris Waywell-Smith acquired the business about three weeks ago from Lynne Barett, after Barett decided to move back to England.

Waywell-Smith had been working at Lorraine’s for about eight months before the transaction took place.

“I had met all the customers,” she said, “and I was enjoying myself,” so the purchase seemed like a good idea.

Her daughter’s marriage to a Venice man first brought her to Siesta Key about seven years ago, she said.

Not only does she have more than 50 years of experience with hair salons in New Jersey, she said, she also worked for a period as a make-up artist at Christian Dior in New York and London.

Contact Rachel Brown Hackney at rhackney@yourobserver.com.

 

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