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Siesta Key Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 8 years ago

New site eyed for charging stations

by: Rachel Brown Hackney Managing Editor

Members of the Siesta Key Village Association are considering the possibility of creating electric-vehicle charging stations in the right of way on Calle Minorga, adjacent to the SunTrust Bank parking lot on the north end of the Village.

Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce President Mark Smith broached the idea during the SKVA’s meeting Feb. 7. SKVA President Russell Matthes said he would talk further about the idea with a consultant who had discussed the charging-station proposal with the group in December, then provide an update for the members.

During his recent discussions with Sarasota County staff regarding proposed changes to the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. ordinance, Smith said he had asked whether the area of upkeep could be expanded. Smith pointed out to the staff members that some commercial property owners have been assessed the special maintenance district tax, even though the resulting pool of money is not used for upkeep of their property.

For example, Smith told the SKVA members, the brick sidewalks in the Village were not extended to The UPS Store on Beach Road, even though that property is assessed the SKVMC tax.

“We did not go beyond Foxy Lady (with the sidewalks),” Smith added.

County staff had told him the new ordinance would permit such changes, Smith continued, so he had started thinking about the grassy right of way by the bank.

“If we were to put (electric-vehicle) parking spaces there,” he said, “we wouldn’t take away from any of the net parking that’s counted in the Village now.”

The SKVMC could petition the County Commission for adding the space off Calle Minorga to the district, he said.

“So I’m talking to the different property owners to see what their thoughts are on (the idea),” Smith added.

During their Dec. 6 meeting, SKVA members heard a presentation by Ken Stokes, an energy consultant with the Sarasota-based company EcoTechnologies, regarding the potential value to the Village if it installed electric-vehicle charging stations.

Stokes said people driving down Interstate 75 could use a smart-phone application to learn the Village had the stations; drivers who otherwise had no plans to venture into the Village might make it a destination.

When Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson asked whether the SKVA members were opposed to putting charging stations in the public parking lot, between Avenida Madera and Avenida de Mayo, Smith told her Village business owners were concerned that drivers would not move their vehicles once the charging was complete, if the stations were in that lot.

SKVA Treasurer Roz Hyman had raised that point during the December meeting.

“If we go with an $8,000 (charging) unit,” Smith said Feb. 7, “they charge in two hours. Are (the drivers) going to come back and unplug that car and pull into another parking space or say, ‘Forget about it?’” he asked.

However, if charging stations were created off Calle Minorga, Smith said, “(The spaces will) be vacant unless there’s an electric car (in them).”

“Most people who visit the Village do so to eat or whatever, and they don’t stay that long,” Patterson said.

Nonetheless, Smith told her, the concern remained that business owners would not want existing spaces removed from the counts they use to comply with the guidelines of the county’s Parking Improvement District.

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