Siesta Key residents and beachgoers may notice new tin-roofed kiosks at several public access points — at least Sarasota County hopes they do.
Currently, the posting board only has signs warning that the use of fireworks on the beach is illegal, a crucial tool used by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office during the Fourth of July celebration on Siesta Key, according to deputy Chris McGregor during a July report to the Siesta Key Association. But, the wood backdrop will soon display environmental information year-round.
Sarasota County Parks and Recreation manager George Tatge has a poster outlining protective restrictions and information about snowy plovers, the threatened shorebirds that live in dune vegetation, prepared for the kiosks. They will be posted within the next two weeks, he said. The county has plans to create similar informational signs about sea-turtle nests, manatees, and sea grasses, as well.
The huts will also double as guideposts for tourists featuring information expected to help Siesta Key Village businesses, Tatge said. The side visitors see when leaving the beach will have maps that will show walking distances to restaurants, bars and other landmarks.
“It lets people know they can take a walk down the beach and get off to have a cold drink in the Village,” he said. The traffic congestion during busy beach days could thin if people know they can walk less than a mile for a bite to eat, Tatge explained.
The kiosks also help the parks and recreation department by consolidating signage, some of which is required for display by law. Tatge said before the county started the project, he noticed 15 signs skirting a boat ramp.
“They were different colors, ages and made out of different materials,” he said. “It’s a tough struggle with the constant barrage of requests for signage.”
Sarasota County tapped its tourist development fund, which is fueled by taxes on rentals of less than six months, to pay for beach kiosks and West Coast Inland Navigation District boater improvement grants for those near boat ramps.
The county parks and recreation department has 10 in place on Siesta, and plans to install three more of the $2,400 structures at Beach Accesses 12 and 13, and on Shell Road.
“They’ll help reduce traffic, improve circulation, and help people from getting lost,” Tatge said.
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