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Crosswalks could provide marketing opportunity

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  • | 4:00 a.m. June 7, 2012
  • Siesta Key
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Green is the new gold standard for businesses. Like moths to a flame, environmentally conscious consumers tend to be drawn to firms that boast green products or processes.

Now Sarasota County has a chance to give some green marketing girth to Siesta Key Village by using lower-energey LED lights to make crosswalks safer.

The Sarasota County Commission, March 13, approved the installation of waist-high lights, called bollards, at 11 crosswalks in the Village. However, the cost estimate commissioners approved did not include installation, dimming the chances for the project to move forward.

But the light is not gone just yet, because the county has plans to gather three LED light manufacturers for a product demonstration to get an accurate estimate for budget talks this summer, Siesta Key Association Vice President Peter van Roekens explained at the June meeting of the Siesta Key Village Association.

“That will give (the county) enough material so they can write the specs and know what the total costs are,” he said.

Beacon Products Inc., a lighting fixture manufacturer headquartered in Bradenton, and Sarasota-based EvoLucia Lighting have expressed interest in the project. The latter firm is a subsidiary of Sunovia Energy Technologies, which supplied LED lighting fixtures for the Ringling Bridge.

“Today LED lighting makes financial sense,” said Craig Hall, vice president of business development and investor relations and co-founder of Sunovia. “It’s a marketing opportunity as well.”

Hall is referring to the ability to brand Siesta Key Village as “green.” “We can say to tourists, ‘Listen, we’re not just the No. 1 beach — we’re progressive (environmentally), too,’” he said.

Thirty miles north of Siesta Key on Anna Maria Island, Pine Avenue has been dubbed “the Greenest Little Main Street” with several restaurants and buildings installing green technology, said Ed Chiles, a developer with the Chiles Restaurant Group who owns several Anna Maria restaurants. “We’re (using green features) on our projects and we hope others will follow suit,” he said.

The Village Café has certainly followed Chiles’ lead. The Anna Maria Island eatery, owned by the Mike and Lizzie Thrasher, has a fixture that collects and recycles rainwater.

A lighting demonstration, which van Roekens expects to happen at the end of June at the crosswalk between Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar and Gilligan’s Island Bar & Grill, may be a small step toward a project that has been discussed since last fall but could help identify benefits stretching beyond pedestrian safety.

At the SKVA meeting June 5, worries about losing business because of the north bridge construction that started the same day was a prominent topic. The organization started a marketing campaign to counter diminishing business, and adding LED lights to crosswalks could add a new angle to that effort, Hall said.

There is no date set for the demonstration, said Sarasota County Traffic Operations and Engineering Manager Ryan Montague, who has not heard from a third vendor the county contacted for the demonstration. And the showcase will be open to anyone interested.

“This isn’t a private party,” said Mark Smith, an architect who has been a board member of several Siesta organizations. His comment was met with laughter from meeting attendees and a request for him to bring the drinks.



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