Sarasota County Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson has authorized county staff to proceed with seeking a quote from a regular vendor for a new wrought-iron fence along Ocean Boulevard at Treasure Boat Way.
“We want to get it before Halloween,” Tom Maroney, general manager of business operations and public works for the county, told the Pelican Press Monday. “It’s doable at this point.”
Village merchants and others had voiced concerns that children coming to the Key for Safe Treats, the traditional Halloween observance, would be endangered by walking next to the wooden fence that was installed after the county completed the Village beautification project in March 2009. Vandals have damaged the wooden fence repeatedly over the past year; the majority of its vertical railings are missing.
Sheriff’s Office deputies on the Key have responded to numerous calls about the damage, but no arrests have been made. Sgt. Scott Osborne, who leads the community policing station in the Village, told the Pelican Press in July that the fence seemed to be a favorite target late at night for people on foot headed north out of the Village.
A group of Key representatives met with county staff Oct. 6 to discuss plans for a replacement fence. Among them were Mark Smith, a member of the Siesta Village Maintenance Corp. board of directors; Catherine Luckner, president of the Siesta Key Association; and Russell Matthes, president of the Siesta Key Village Association. Luckner reported during her organization’s regular meeting that evening that the group had looked at several fence designs, with a focus on durability and aesthetic appeal, “and I believe we have a plan.”
Patterson, who lives on the Key, had asked county staff to forward to her the options. Maroney said Monday that she gave him the go-ahead to pursue the replacement fence after he emailed her the preferred design.
Although the wrought iron will have to be painted more often, Maroney said, “it’ll hold up better.”
The replacement will be the same height as the current fence, he said.
Referring to the new fence, Maroney said, “Little children can’t slip through the thing.” Moreover, he said, the design should impede people from throwing trash into the adjacent creek.
“And the people who are kicking the fence might actually get their feet stuck in it,” Maroney said with a laugh. If that happened, he said, at least a call to EMS on the Key would reveal the identity of the vandals.
Gary W. Spraggins, the mobility infrastructure/Buchan Airport manager, who has been overseeing Village maintenance until the county can hire a new firm to handle the upkeep, had emailed Patterson Sept. 22 with two recommendations for the replacement. One, which he called “the standard for the Parks and Recreation Department,” consisted of chain links coated with black paint, with a gray composite handrail. One of those is at the Siesta Key Public Beach, he told her.
The other design featured a cable system he had suggested earlier, he pointed out. “Recommendation is to install a black cable with a clear coating over it,” with the gray handrail on top, he added.
“It feels like this has taken a long time to get us just these two choices,” Patterson responded. “Chain link is definitely not acceptable to me no matter what color.”
The boardwalk along beside that portion of Ocean Boulevard also will be replaced at the same time as the fence, Maroney said. The county plans to use a composite material that will hold up better, he said.
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