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Opinion
Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016 2 years ago

Letters to the Editor: Sarasota 12.15.16

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Readers comment on Siesta Beach smoking regulations and the proposed dredge of Big Pass.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor
Woman’s Exchange decision a victory for residents

The Laurel Park Neighborhood Association is pleased Circuit Court Judge Brian Iten ruled in favor of the city in a case concerning a Woman’s Exchange plan to build a loading zone on Rawls Avenue. His ruling upheld a City Commission decision in favor of Laurel Park, stating that the city followed due process, followed the law and (the decision) was based on competent and substantial evidence. He emphasized, as had the neighborhood, that safety issues for bicyclists and pedestrians were at the core of the issue.

Laurel Park has always welcomed the Woman’s Exchange. We have consistently encouraged the Exchange to consider a different expansion plan, one that does not include a loading zone on tiny Rawls Avenue. We have encouraged the city to be flexible with the zoning code so as to allow an on-site expansion for the Woman’s Exchange that will work for everyone. Indeed, city staff has been making every effort to find viable solutions for the Woman’s Exchange.

We’d like to thank the City Commission for their support of Sarasota’s neighborhoods and City Attorney Robert Fournier for his hard work and diligence in defending that decision in court.

We hope the Woman’s Exchange prospers and continues its important mission of supporting the arts in Sarasota.

Alice Sundstrom
President, Laurel Park Neighborhood Association

State’s stance on smoking restriction doesn’t add up

Whenever I read that the state is involving itself in local government and particularly, a ban like (smoking regulations on Siesta Key Beach), I ask myself, “Why?”

Why would the state make a decision on an issue that impacts the residents of the communities, especially when it is not prepared to fund a fix?

I volunteered my time to the Siesta Key Association’s Clean Up The Beach program. I walked a long strip of the beach one Sunday morning and collected garbage. At the end of my walk, I had a black garbage bag full of water bottle caps and disgusting cigarette butts.

I love our beach, but between the red tide and smokers turning our beach into an ashtray, I have begun to question whether anyone else is out there that cares long-term about our beach also.

What possible explanation could the state provide for allowing smokers (I dare say I need not expand on the perils of cigarettes on our health care system) to come to our beaches and toss their dirty, stinky, contaminated cigarette butts into our beautiful sand with no thought as to what it means to the life of our beach or how it will be removed ... talk about use and abuse.

Unless the state is funding some sort of clean-up program, which would be an incredible waste of taxpayers’ dollars, they should allow the residents that see the beach as more than just a holiday destination some control over what is allowed on the beach.

I was just one of several locals that volunteered their time and energy to the clean-up, and not one of us were smokers, but we sure handled a lot of cigarettes that day ... it was a disgusting sight to behold.

Lorie Tiernay
Siesta Key

Campaign against Big Pass dredge relies on misinformation

Siesta Key is again propagating misinformation as a scare tactic to raise money to prevent Lido Key from being renourished. Siesta’s “Newsletter 30” reinforces lies about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lido Key beach renourishment project. Their objections are nonscientific, based on personal fear and motivated by personal and commercial interests.

In reality, Army Corps has done extensive research and environmental studies of the impact of the dredging. Years of research and modeling have concluded there will be no damage. Siesta’s group fails to report that the city and Army Corps have incorporated into the permit extensive monitoring of the project so that if there is any negative impact or unforeseen issues they will be addressed.

The Big Pass shoal has grown at least fourfold in the past 10 years from sand flowing south from Lido Key beach — and the project will use only 5% of the shoal. Also, it will improve navigation in Big Pass — boaters say navigation is a major problem now, and it will help protect North Siesta from channel erosion. Over this 50-year project, sand from New Pass, Lido’s primary sand source in prior years, will continue to be used. Lido beach sand will always continue to drift south no matter what, thus ensuring Siesta Key will continue to receive sand.

At the County Commission meeting where the Atkins review was reported, the Atkins team admitted that they did not review all of the Army Corps documentation available to them, and therefore their report was flawed.

Siesta’s scare-tactic “Newsletter 30” falsely reports there would be noise on Siesta beach. The dredging is done in Big Pass and the bulldozers will be on Lido Key beach – the noise will be on Lido Key, not Siesta beach.

This project has already been delayed for years, and the 2015 emergency sand (from the Debby project) is gone. Damage to buildings and wildlife has already occurred. Lido Key has no protection for 2017 even if plans move at full speed from this point, and a large storm could further damage the environment, buildings and infrastructure. The economic impact of a continued delay is huge. Having the Army Corps of Engineers involved in the project will ensure federal funding for the next 50 years. Without this project, the financial burden falls on the county and city.

Carl Shoffstall
President, Lido Key Residents Association

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