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Siesta Key Thursday, May. 17, 2012 5 years ago

My View: The sounds of silence

by: Jeffrey Weisman

Yet another example of a vocal, albeit caring, few attempting to impose their view on the masses: How many people truly “suffer” from the alleged noise emanating from the entertainment venues in Siesta Village? The occupants of some homes, some hotels, some guest houses? Is that number 200, perhaps 300 people? Certainly not many more, even in season, and far fewer the remainder of the year.

Three key factors suggest we not alter, restrict or — worse — silence the music, the sounds of entertainment in the Village: branding, economics and development.

Branding: Siesta Key has a distinct personality. Blessed with the No. 1 beach in the U.S. title, the Key’s friendly low-key atmosphere attracts a multitude of tourists, families and fun-loving people. Not to mention all the lucky residents who live on the Key.

Unlike our two sister keys to the north and south, Siesta Key has a more dynamic and defined personality. We have that fabulous beach, a host of restaurants and nightlife.

Casey Key boasts natural beauty and a sense of community, albeit with a smaller population. One has few choices on that Key for dining and none for entertainment. You just have to travel to the mainland.

Longboat Key has a number of quality restaurants. Five even sit on the water. But, like Casey Key, Longboat Key lacks entertainment venues. If you want music, you can listen to your MP3 player or stereo or leave the island.

Siesta Key is self-contained. Everything Sarasota has to offer is here: beaches, tennis, restaurants and, yes, entertainment. (And as with all the Keys, you must go to the mainland for visual and performing arts.)
That’s our brand: day-life, nightlife and minimal driving; self-contained pleasure for all ages. The formula has worked well for years. Look at our success. Why change it for a vocal few who choose to out-shout the music?

Economics: The entertainment venues of Siesta Key attract people: residents, tourists, mainlanders (the bridge crowd). The people spend money. The revenue strengthens the Key and Sarasota — in taxes, salaries; it’s a multiplier effect.

In comparison, the 200 or so vocal people clearly don’t contribute the same amount of overall revenue as the entertainment venues.

Agreed, we must never allow the interests of business to surpass the interests of people. But a minority, the ones complaining with their jeremiad, cannot dictate for the rest of us.

Moreover, the county at this time cannot redirect expenses for a sound patrol to monitor decibel levels. Too much else calls for those expenses than a decibel detail. And, to my knowledge, those three or four establishments with late-night entertainment monitor the legally defined decibel levels on their own. Why would they risk a fine or a business stoppage for a few more decibels?

Development: Siesta Key has only two restaurants on the water. The condos got there first and with greater clout. Residents of those buildings enjoy their visual and physical access to the water. And, although we all enjoy dining on or in view of the Gulf or the Intracoastal, many more people prefer living on the water to just dining there.

Developmental progress like this made economic sense.

Entertainment venues offer something for most of us: music with dinner; late-night socializing and dancing. Eliminating them or changing their focus does not make sense. We must not lose these attractions.

Do not alter or change the Siesta Key formula, our brand. That’s what has made us famous and successful. It’s what people want. Let’s not play, “Stop the music!”

Jeffrey Weisman owned an advertising and marketing agency in New York City. In Sarasota, he creates fine-art photography and serves on the board of directors of Art Center Sarasota.

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