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Siesta Key Thursday, Jun. 11, 2020 1 year ago

Parking lot on South Siesta Key approved

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Commissioners approved the lot, though they suggested leasing it to business owners for employee parking rather than designating it as public parking.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

A parking lot will be added to South Siesta Key at 6647 S. Midnight Pass Road following a County Commission vote, though it’s yet to be determined if the lot will be used for public parking or be leased by Siesta Key business owners for their employees.

County staff planned for the lot,

which will take up 0.54 acres of a parcel operated by the public utilities department, to be 43 public spaces used for beach parking or access to businesses in the area. A Siesta Key Breeze Trolley stop also will be added to the lot.

However, after hearing several complaints from homeowners in the area, commissioners began considering an alternative concept for the lot.

Nearby residents expressed concerns that the lot would bring added traffic and crime to the area. Some residents also worried that beachgoers would not walk the 10 minutes to the closest beach access and instead use the private beach access directly across from the lot in Sarasea Circle.

Tom Shepardson, a Sarasea resident, said the additional parking would bring a lot of problems to the area.

“People are going to park there and leave their cars there. There’s going to be a lot of trash. There’s going to be people partying. There’s going to be congregation spots that we don’t want,” Shepardson said. “We think this is going to be a recipe for disaster.”

After hearing several complaints, commissioner Alan Maio was the first to suggest leasing the property to local businesses.

“I would bet a collection, consortium of the business owners would find a way to lease this from us, divide up the parking spaces, put a gate on it,” Maio said. “Then shame on them if problems arose.”

Commissioner Charles Hines said if the lot were to be used for employee parking, it would free up more spaces around the businesses and help appease the concerns of neighbors. Additionally, he suggested revenue collected from the lot could go toward funding the Breeze trolley.

“Public access to the beach from this location is not good, so to draw the public there to park and to go to the beach is not a good idea,” Hines said. “To have the business parking there and have it managed by the business, that starts to make sense to me.”

A 6-foot high vinyl privacy fence will be added on the southern boundary, next to the Sea Winds Condominium complex, and an existing chain link fence on the northern boundary will remain. A landscaping buffer will be added along the northern boundary.

With the new changes, Commissioner Nancy Detert was in favor of getting work on the lot started quickly.

“We need as much parking as we can possibly get,” Detert said. “I would hope employees would get first dibs, but anything we can do to relieve the parking problem and traffic problem on Siesta Key, we need to do that ASAP.”

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