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The early 1970s brought condominium development, such as the Terrace on Ocean Boulevard, new retail buildings, such as the Spanish-themed El Prado, and new nightlife options. File photos.
Siesta Key Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 5 years ago

History of Siesta Key Village

by: Alex Mahadevan News Innovation Editor

On March 23, 1972, the Siesta Village Association met at Palmer Bank.

On the agenda: noise complaints and parking.

A little more than 40 years later, a descendent of that merchants group, the Siesta Key Village Association, discussed the same issues during a meeting north of the bank — which is now a Bank of America — at the Daiquiri Deck (formerly Anna’s Deli.)

Much has changed in the years between the two meetings of island business owners, but the problems unique to the Village in the early 1970s remain today; population growth and the island’s popularity as a tourism destination has amplified those issues.

Other topics from that 1972 Village Association meeting were:
• The alcoholic beverage law
• Youth street gatherings
• Littering and trash on Ocean Boulevard (and its 35 mph speed limit)
• Pedestrian safety on Ocean Boulevard
• Unleashed dogs
• Hitchhiking

“There will always be complaints,” County Commissioner Nora Patterson said during a Dec. 5 phone interview. “You can’t run an urbanized area without complaints.”

Some topics on the agenda of the most recent Village Association meeting, which took place Dec. 4, were:
• Beach Access 7 parking
• Trolley grants
• County-funded Village maintenance
• Village crosswalk safety
• Unleashed dogs
• Hitchhiking

In 1972, restaurants and retail shops peddling shells and trinkets, such as Ocean Potpourri, took risks to open their doors on a barrier island that didn’t even have a full-time Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputy on patrol.

Condominium developers built on the speculation that the Village would thrive, and in 1972, a building boom led to construction of Terrace East, the 7-Eleven and the small Spanish-themed shopping center called El Prado, among other condos, single-family homes and shops.

The year marked the first Siesta Fiesta celebration, which showcased island artisans, and the ’70s construction set in motion a 40-year shift in commercial activity to trend toward bars and restaurants.

“There were not bands in the Village and there were fewer restaurants,” said Patterson, a longtime Siesta resident. “Most late-night complaints, I believe, were from one lone guitarist.”

Patterson wasn’t on the receiving end of complaints then, and they weren’t lodged via email, as they come to her today as the County Commission’s representative of the island.

The types of businesses that operated in the Village varied widely compared with today.

Rich Stover and Rick Golden opened Dart Paraphernalia Inc. in the mid-1970s, betting on a national dart-throwing trend.

The young long-haired men sporting mustaches and tight-collared shirts assured readers of a 1975 article of the Pelican Press that the phrase “nice darts” would become a common bar greeting.

It didn’t, and the pair soon closed the shop.

The Sea Pedlar (the Old English spelling of peddler) sold furniture; the Siesta Village Texaco peddled gasoline; and the Village had it’s own “Joe the Plumber,” in Joe’s Plumbing Co., which was located where Bonjour French Café now sits.

In the 1970s, island residents could hit their preferred watering hole, Siesta Bar or the Beach Club, the latter of which is still a Village fixture.

The Beach Club, which in the 1970s was touted as a lounge and cocktail bar, now hosts rocks bands and DJs and is regularly packed with youth on the weekends. The move toward a party-like atmosphere in the Village seems to have started with the entrance of Daiquiri Deck in the 1990s, Patterson said.

The political clout of Village merchants has also endured the last four decades.

It’s apparent in the current Village Association board members’ involvement in the $21.5 million Siesta Key public beach improvements and influence over the Village maintenance contract.

A little less than 40 years ago, merchants lobbied for, and received, a full-time deputy patrol for the island.
Today the Sheriff’s Office maintains two offices on Siesta. It received more than five noise disturbance calls in November. Although the number of noise complaints received on the island has certainly increased since the ’70s, the type of complaint remains the same — music, presumably coming from a Village establishment.

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