Residents, groups ask leaders to focus on environment, roads.
Traffic solutions and environmental infrastructure were top of mind Monday at the town's annual Goals and Objectives meeting, a traditional kickoff to the budget-making season.
Town Commissioners set aside a meeting in the spring typically to hear from citizens and organizations about projects that might fit with town priorities as the town begins to formulate future spending.
Last year’s meeting got canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is what residents and civic organizations discussed in front of commissioners on Monday:
State of Sarasota Bay
Solutions to Avoid Red Tide CEO Sandy Gilbert presented his concerns about the health of Sarasota Bay and what the town can do about it.
“Today as we stand, there is twice as much nitrogen in Sarasota Bay then there was 20 years ago,'' he said. “Seagrass has declined by 30%. The stocks are down. Red tide and other [harmful algal blooms] are more prevalent and long-lasting. And, the [Florida Department of Environmental Protection] is declared the Bay an impaired waterway. That’s just not good for your lifestyle or your property values.”
Gilbert said he would like to see the town emphasize best practices for fertilizing and water use to reduce excess nutrients in stormwater runoff.
North end roundabout
Before commissioners appointed Maureen Merrigan to fill the vacant District 5 seat, she delivered a presentation on north end traffic on behalf of Longboat Key North, representing 24 condominium and homeowner groups.
She urged commissioners to push for Florida Department of Transportation build a roundabout at Gulf of Mexico Drive and Broadway.
“If any of you want to do something adventurous, go up there one day on a Saturday afternoon [and] try to cross that intersection,” Merrigan said. “It’s four lanes, it’s very dangerous and it’s also on a turn. Try pushing a stroller across it.”
The nearest crosswalk from GMD and Broadway is about a half-mile north.
Sleepy Lagoon Homeowner Association President Judy McGroary expressed her appreciation for how the town has helped in its effort to mitigate the effects of flooding.
“Our streets constantly flood during season of high tide and rain,” McGroary said.
A project is planned to raise the elevation of Lyons Lane. McGroary would like to see the town do more to help the island’s lowest-lying areas.
“We need further drainage in the neighborhood to curtail the street flooding during storms in king tide,” McGroary said. “The objective of the study is to review the present drainage systems and develop a comprehensive plan for the entire neighborhood.”
Police on Greer Island
The town is in the process of sand dredging and removing some of the driftwood on Greer Island.
Merrigan said Longboat Key North, which launched its own volunteer beach patrol in February, would like to see more police presence on the north end of the island.
“When we have police walk Greer Island on a weekend, it’s beautiful,” Merrigan said. “We don’t have drinking. We don’t have beautiful underage parties. It’s a beautiful place to be with families.
Merrigan showed a picture of her on Greer Island picking up beach trash and empty containers of alcohol. She said Longboat Key North would like to see police walk the island at all times of the year, not just spring break season.
Building infrastructure for electric vehicles
District 4 Commissioner Debra Williams brought up the possibility of building the town’s infrastructure to accommodate electric vehicles.
“We’re all aware this is something that’s coming down the pike,” Williams said. “Various auto manufacturers announced they’re going to do all-electric.
“And when they put a target dates on that, so I guess I’d like to see us think about building out some infrastructure to support that.”