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Longboat Key Thursday, Sep. 2, 2021 1 month ago

Red tide's effects curtails Longboat noise complaints

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North-end residents haven't heard as much boat noise compared to previous months. Red tide has kept many boaters off the water.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Red tide does not have many positive effects, but it has curtailed loud music coming from boaters who normally moor around Jewfish Key and other north-end beaches.

“I definitely have not seen the volume of boaters that we would have in the past, especially during the week,” north-end resident Pat Beavers said.

The Longboat Key Town Commission passed an emergency ordinance at the start of July to address north-end residents’ complaints about the noise. However, the town began receiving reports of red tide less than two weeks later. In recent weeks, the town’s red tide impacts haven’t been as substantial as earlier in the summer.

“A lot of the time between when we passed that ordinance and today has been ride-tide impacted, and so, we may not have felt…how successful our efforts really are,” District 5 Commissioner Maureen Merrigan said.

When town commissioners reconvene this month for the first time since July, they could discuss several other possibilities to address the north-end noise problems. It includes adding signage along the shore, considerations of dredging away sandbars that attract crowds near Jewfish Key, enforcing boat speed in the area, increasing the town’s presence on the water and coordinating with other law enforcement agencies for enforcement.

“We’re certainly following up with Manatee County and the sheriff’s (office) there to see that we’ve got agreements in place and alignment for their support because we’re not on the water 24/7,” Merrigan said.

Merrigan also mentioned the possibility of making a section of Greer Island a non-motorized recreation area for kayakers and paddleboarders.

Beavers said he has noticed a difference since commissioners passed the emergency ordinance on July 2.

“The noise would still be there, but they would address it,” Beavers said. “They’d be looking for it, or if we would call, the people we spoke to seemed to be aware of the concern and would respond to it.”

Beavers said he’s helped distribute the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office’s new dispatch center map among neighbors. The map categorizes Greer Island and Jewfish Key into eight different sectors. Beavers said he’s made two 911 calls since the map got introduced on July 13.

“They seem to be more aware of the concern, but maybe hadn’t been fully introduced to the map yet, the folks at dispatch,” Beavers said.

Merrigan said she would like to give the town’s emergency ordinance more time to determine whether it has helped curtail load music from boats. She believes the red tide has kept many boaters off the water this summer. Plus, more boaters tend to go out when snowbirds return for season.

“We really haven’t given it a good beta test on, have we controlled the noise?” Merrigan said. “Have we done something things with noise from an enforcement standpoint and a coverage standpoint?”

The Town Commission is set to hold a regular meeting on Sept. 13. The commission’s next workshop meeting is set for Sept. 27.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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