County staff is continuing to work with a stakeholders group to produce two types of signage touting the Siesta beach’s status as No. 1 in the country.
“I think we’ve got the final tweaks (for one of the signs),” said Rob Lewis, executive director of the county’s Planning and Development Services Department.
Catherine Luckner, pre-sident of the Siesta Key Association, said Wednesday she suspected another stakeholders meeting would be necessary, based on email exchanges among the members of that group. However, Lewis said he did not think he would have to call another meeting.
He expected to send a memo to the County Commission Nov. 17 or Nov. 18, he said, with the final images for the new signage.
After Siesta residents, including County Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson, expressed lukewarm responses to signs county staff had erected in late August at Sarasota County Area Transit stops, the County Commission had asked staff to coordinate the creation of better signage.
One proposed sign concept, produced for the stakeholders group to consider put the words, “Siesta Beach,” in the top left-hand corner, Luckner told SKA members during their Nov. 3 meeting. “Sarasota” appeared in much bigger letters in the center of the sign. Members of the stakeholders group, she said, had suggested that “Siesta” needed to be bigger.
That sign, Luckner explained during the SKA meeting, would be placed at the beach for photo opportunities.
“It’ll be back off the parking lot,” she said.
Donna Thompson, the county’s assistant zoning administrator, had told the stakeholders group that plans for that sign would comply with the county’s zoning code, Luckner added.
When Mark Smith, a member of the Siesta Key Village Association, proposed the idea for the signs during the SKVA’s August meeting, Thompson said the county zoning code could prevent the installation of certain types of signs, such as banners, at the entries to the Key.
“We certainly wouldn’t do anything larger than county code allows,” Lewis said.
Luckner said the beach sign, proposed at 4 feet by 8 feet, would be designed to allow people visiting Siesta to take photos adjacent to it.
In commissioners’ comments during their Nov. 8 regular meeting, Patterson noted the importance of having that photo op sign. She suggested a banner might be better than the proposed sign.
“We can look at that,” Lewis told her.
“I had a little bit of concern when I saw (the sign concept),” Patterson added, saying it appeared the county would be erecting a billboard at the beach.
Lewis reiterated commissioners’ input will steer the ultimate decision.
“I want them to be very much included in this (signage selection process),” he said. “Staff is not going to recommend one sign or the other. We will simply accept (the commissioners’) recommendation.”
Lewis had indicated the matter could come before the County Commission this week, but Interim County Administrator Terry Lewis said Tuesday the sign work still was under way. Lewis was not certain, he said, when the matter would be put on the agenda.
According to members of the stakeholders group, some of the images proposed for the beach photo op sign appeared to be stock photos. Additionally, county staff has been working on the background of that sign, to provide a 3D effect. Some stakeholders felt one staff proposal for the background was too dark and that the beach did not look like Siesta’s beach.
Stakeholders told county staff the beach sand looked coarse, unlike Siesta’s fine, quartz sand.
A county graphic artist also has been working on variations of the sign using daytime and sunset images. Members of the stakeholders group have expressed additional concerns about the sunset photo the artist had chosen, saying it did not resemble a Siesta sunset.
Staff at the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau also had prepared a postcard variation of the beach photo op sign, Rob Lewis said.
Virginia Haley, president of the SCVB, said last month that an artist who previously worked for the bureau had come up with that concept. She had added that a lack of coordination among county staff had stalled efforts to get that sign erected during the summer.
Regarding what he referred to as the logo sign, Lewis said the idea behind that concept was that it could be used at multiple venues and on promotional items such as hats and mugs. The county would leave such usage to the private sector, he added.
Earlier this fall, Lewis said he hoped artists in the community would submit proposals for the sign.
“We really haven’t had anybody bring forward anything else,” he said.
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