Although businesses are interested in adding parking spaces, condo residents are concerned about safety and aesthetics.
Sarasota County is not formally considering removing landscaping along Ocean Boulevard to add angled parking spaces near the entrance of Siesta Key Village.
Still, a group of Siesta Key condominium residents want to make it clear they oppose the concept in the event it gains traction.
On Aug. 12, the Siesta Key Condominium Council sent an email to the County Commission expressing their concern about a potential parking proposal. The email said the group learned that some businesses had interest in adding angled parking spaces on Ocean Boulevard next to the Whispering Sands Condominium, across the street from The Old Salty Dog.
“This parking space increase is a dangerous backward step,” the email said. “The Siesta Key Condominium Council … is on record as against this idea or plan and recommends this be dropped from consideration.”
Through a spokesperson, the county said the parking spot proposal came from “business interests” in Siesta Village. The county said no entity had submitted a formal proposal for adding parking spaces, and staff has only had informal discussions about the potential for such a project. The county did not identify any specific businesses associated with the proposal.
The condo council said it opposed the concept because of safety and aesthetic concerns. The group objected to replacing the existing green space with asphalt. It also suggested the location where the parking spots are proposed to be located is problematic.
At the entry point to the Village, speed limits slow from 20 mph and bicycles and cars share the road. A nearby bus stop can contribute to a bottleneck effect in the area. With angled parking already located across the street in front of The Old Salty Dog, the condo council feared that adding additional parking spaces could create dangerous complications for those attempting to navigate the roadway.
“A typical day in this area experiences slower, frequently backed up traffic as drivers and bicycles share the roadway as they enter the Village from the north,” the email said. “The bike lane has ended. Now imagine cars and bikes negotiating around backing up cars on both sides of Ocean [Boulevard].”
Eric Fleming, immediate past chair of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, is an attorney with an office on Ocean Boulevard next to The Old Salty Dog. Fleming was supportive of the parking proposal and stated it was a concept that dates back several years and recently resurfaced. Fleming said the plans he saw also called for some expansion of the existing parking on the east side of Ocean Boulevard.
With businesses regularly expressing an interest in adding parking in the Village, Fleming said he thought the current configuration of Ocean Boulevard didn’t represent the highest and best use of the right of way along the road.
Fleming disagreed with the condo council’s concerns about safety and aesthetics. He said he thought the current road design created suboptimal visibility for both drivers and pedestrians, and he said the proposed parking configuration he saw would maintain existing palm trees.
Although Fleming was hopeful to see the parking spaces added to Ocean Boulevard, the county said there was no established timeline for when the proposal might receive formal consideration.