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Siesta Key Wednesday, May 23, 2018 2 years ago

Turtle Beach parking lot slated for improvements

By the summer, problems with standing water and dust at the small lot should be resolved.
by: Cassidy Alexander Staff Writer

South Siesta Key resident Steve Titunik walks most days down his street and around to Turtle Beach, to a small parking lot on Midnight Pass Road. He likes the area, with its picnic pavilion and small dock along Blind Pass.

It’s just south of the main Turtle Beach parking lot, which was renovated in 2016 for $601,000 to include a remodeled community center, new docks, paved parking, sidewalks, landscaping, playground, a kayak launch and a wash-down rack. But the smaller lot was left out of the upgrades.

“I just feel bad no one loved the area,” he said of the smaller lot. “I’ll have the finest little sliver of sand” — with some improvements.

The parking lot is used by the Siesta Breeze Trolley and other vehicles as a place to turn around on Midnight Pass Road. The trolley in particular is in the lot every 20 minutes, which generates clouds of dust as the vehicles bump over the uneven, unpaved terrain on dry days. When it rains, large puddles flood the sidewalk and entryways. Smaller puddles dot the lot itself. The sand is also pulled out onto Midnight Pass Road by the trollies.

“It seems they did a marvelous job redoing the park and everything, but that last piece of that parking lot, that little tail end of it ...”

But this summer, that parking lot is slated for some upgrades approved Tuesday by the County Commission.

The county created a capital improvement project to widen and pave the parking lot’s entries, pave the part vehicles drive on and pave the handicapped-accessible parking space in the lot. The other parking spaces will not be paved. The new plan will leave 16 formal parking spaces and one handicapped-accessible space, according to the site plan, with room on one side for additional parking.

Standing water can cover part of the sidewalk on Midnight Pass Road as well.

“For $157,000, all we’re getting is pavement for our trolley to turn around and get a lot less dust for local residents,” Commissioner Nancy Detert said. “We’re not paving the entire thing.”

Additionally, a small stormwater retention area will be installed between the parking lot and the sidewalk on Midnight Pass Road, to divert water from the southern entryway, where it can swamp the sidewalk.

Commissioner Al Maio said at the meeting the improvement has been a long time coming. Residents — notably from the Sunrise Cove Condominium across the street — have been complaining about the dust since 2016.

“We just had to come up with a way to accommodate some paving, some dust and debris onto the roadway reduction, without taking so much of the lot and cannibalizing it with stormwater retention,” he said. “This is a great solution.”

The project will cost $157,206, from an infrastructure sales tax and tourist development tax revenue. It was approved unanimously.

For his part, Titunik thinks the planned improvements will help things.

“It just adds to the nice reputation I would think the county, the elected officials, would want to maintain,” he said, “to do what they can to keep an area clean, safe and convenient for people to enjoy. The park is certainly a step in that direction.”

I’m Cassidy. I cover news in Sarasota County, Siesta Key and the schools, plus community events if they involve dogs. I’m a Florida native, and University of North Florida graduate with degrees in journalism and graphic design. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 304.

See All Articles by Cassidy

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