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"Freddie" the fox curls up for a nap in front of a Gulf & Bay Club condominium. He and his mate have made themselves regular members of the community, residents say. Courtesy of Dee Reinbold.
Siesta Key Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 6 years ago

Island Beat: Key people getting into the holiday spirit

by: Rachel Brown Hackney Managing Editor

With Light Up the Village marking the formal beginning of the holiday season on the Key, plans are being finalized for the annual Christmas Lighting Contest for Condominiums.

That contest generally is coordinated among the Siesta Key Condominium Association, the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, the Siesta Key Village Association, Siesta Island Trolley and Garrity Photography. The Pelican Press also usually participates in the judging.

It’s always great fun to take a drive from the Village all the way down Midnight Pass Road to see the wide variety of decorations the various condo complexes assemble as they vie for top honors in their categories. The condos are judged according to size, though many of the smaller ones literally can outshine the bigger ones.

Along with the Condo Council contest, The Observer Group, which purchased the Pelican Press in June, has announced details for its own Light Up the Keys contest.

During the next two weeks, Pelican/Observer staff members will be on the hunt for the most festively decorated single-family homes and businesses on Siesta. This contest, we feel, will be a good complement to the Condominium Association’s competition.

The winners in those two categories will be announced in the Dec. 15 issue of the Pelican Press. We also will present a Publisher’s Choice award. The results will include a “bright spots” list, for runners-up that should not be missed.

The Key always has plenty of pretty homes and businesses for the holiday season.

We wish good luck to everyone as they put out their holiday finery.

Foxy friends
Gulf & Bay Club resident Nancy Deckard has told me about two foxes that have become regular residents of that complex, along with a bobcat and its kitten.

Dee Reinbold, another Gulf & Bay Club resident, has taken photos of one of one foxes, which she has dubbed “Freddie.” He often naps in front of a ground-floor unit in her building.

Deckard said residents are concerned about what will happen to the critters once county staff begins work on the stormwater drainage project at the beach, as the proposed pond will be located adjacent to the complex property.

“Up till now, our herons, ibis, egrets, ducks, osprey family and even swans and residents manage to peacefully co-exist around our condo lake,” she wrote. “Destruction of natural habitat is difficult to co-exist with.”

Closed for now
A recent exchange of email between Lourdes Ramirez, past president of the Siesta Key Association, and Carolyn N. Brown, general manager of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department, explains why county staff recently closed the walking trail to Siesta Public Beach that is next to the island’s fire station.

Ramirez speculated the action was linked to the county’s plans for the stormwater drainage project at the beach. Brown responded: “The conditions of the footbridge and the trail do not currently lend themselves well to patron use. Much of the trail is surrounded (by) or within a wetland, and some of the time it is very wet. Based on the planned development and the proposed (stormwater) pond, it is anticipated that construction of this area will begin sometime after the new year (in the first quarter of 2012).”

She added: “I agree that this is a difficult situation, as patrons would like to continue to use this path to access the beach or to exercise on. Staff has advised me that it is not feasible to attempt to fix the footbridge, as the structure is beyond repair. Given the short period of time between now and the commencement of the drainage project, the return on the investment does not justify moving forward with repairs at this time.”

When I spoke a couple of weeks ago with Spencer Anderson, the county project manager in charge of the stormwater drainage project, he said he planned to present an update to the County Commission next week. He had concurred that the construction probably would get under way no later than February.

Speaking of parks …
Given all the efforts on the Key with which the Parks and Recreation Department is involved, the Siesta Key Association this week will include a “thank you” to some of the staff during its regular meeting. That session will began at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 1, at St. Boniface Episcopal Church. The members meet in Room F.
SKA President Catherine Luckner let me know that, along with Parks and Recreation General Manager Carolyn Brown, four other staff members are expected to be present.

Luckner wrote Brown that she also hoped they may take a few minutes each to talk about their area of expertise and some of their more interesting work experiences at the beach.

My former editor, Anne Johnson, pointed out to me last week that the Siesta Key Village Association is the sole group responsible for Light Up the Village. People from other Key organizations do get involved, but in their capacity as SKVA members.

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