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Siesta Key Thursday, Jul. 26, 2012 5 years ago

Crumbling canal wall sparks liability concerns

by: Alex Mahadevan News Innovation Editor

When part-time Siesta Key residents return to their permanent homes each summer, business must go on for neighborhood associations. Getting a quorum for board decisions is tricky and can lead to meeting cancellations.

But Thursday, July 19, seven members met to discuss feuding neighbors and the decay of a troubled neighborhood sea wall.

Siesta Isles comprises 185 acres of the 1,472 acres of land on Siesta Key — roughly 12.5% of the island. Its eastern border is at the intersection of Midnight Pass Road and Shadow Lawn Way, where jogger Donna Chen was killed by a drunk driver earlier this year. This put the organization at the apex of disputes about road safety and in conversations that led to the erection of reflective chevrons on Midnight Pass warning about a sharp turn.

The association, led by Vice President Ben Tucker while President Tony Romanus is absent, elected to refrain from involvement with a dispute he dubbed “the Hatfields and McCoys.” One of the properties’ trees hangs over the adjacent property line, where the owner wants to build a fence.

“This isn’t the association’s jurisdiction,” he said. But, he said the organization was seeking an impartial party to pitch solutions.

But the crumbling sea wall behind a property on Azure Way was the dominant topic at the meeting, which was held at St. Michael the Archangel Church. Property owners along the Grand Canal are responsible for the cost of repairing and maintaining the concrete structures. But, the owners of the Azure Way home live in Germany, and concerned residents were having trouble contacting them.

The organization spent $242.21 in June, according to the treasurer’s report from Marilyn Romanus, which is considerably less when compared to the price tag for sea wall repair, which can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s getting to the point where repairs will be very expensive,” Tucker said.

The cracking concrete brings down a property’s value, but if damage is bad enough, adjacent sea walls are affected, Tucker said. The Azure Way home’s canal wall is in a state of disrepair that is beginning to accelerate erosion at neighboring houses — putting the whole street’s value at risk.

One Siesta Isles resident sent a letter to Sarasota County and received a response stating the owners had been located and were planning to get an estimate on the sea wall’s damage.

But, Tucker wasn’t optimistic about when actual repairs would begin.

“The estimates are going to be sky high,” he said.


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