Vote No on Paving Paradise

On County Politics

BY SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY NOV 3, 2018

This election, there are five questions on the ballot asking Sarasota County voters if they wish to amend the Sarasota County Charter, which is our County’s “Constitution.”

One is a peculiar ballot question captioned: “Charter Amendment to Reacquire and Retain Siesta Key Beach Road as Public Right of Way.” To this question, all voters should vote “NO.”

This proposed County Charter Amendment relates to the northernmost segment of Siesta Key’s Beach Road (north of Columbus Boulevard), which was damaged, washed out and reclaimed by Mother Nature in the 1990s. It now contains sandy beach, coastal vegetation and sea turtle nests (see current photo). Inexplicably, this ballot question is asking voters to mandate the County to spend literally millions of tax dollars to pave over sandy beach and protected sea turtle nests to build a road that is no benefit to our public roadway network.

This segment of Beach Road has been impassable to cars since 1993. In 2016, Sarasota County formally determined that spending millions to rebuild and maintain this short segment of damaged road, now buried beneath sand, was unnecessary and not in the best interest of the public. Thankfully, the road is now formally closed to motor vehicles but remains open to the public in perpetuity for use by pedestrians, bicyclists, people who wish to exercise their pets and all who wish enjoy a view of the beach, the Gulf and the sunset. Sarasota County wisely converted this former segment of road into a linear park for the use and enjoyment of all Sarasota County residents. This is the same principle our County applied in converting former railroad right-of-way to what we now know as “Legacy Trail.”

Significantly, by converting this former road into a linear park from which vehicles are prohibited, it forever foreclosed the prospect of privately-owned lands on the west side of the former Beach Road (the “beachside” of the road) from ever being developed with homes that would block the public’s view and access to the Siesta Beach. Even “Dr. Beach,” who named Siesta “America’s Best Beach,” commended the County Commission for closing Beach Road to cars!

Vote “NO” to this proposed Charter Amendment to save millions in taxpayer dollars, preserve this linear park, and protect it, its sea turtle nests and its other natural features from being replaced with an unnecessary and unneeded road. Vote NO to paving paradise!

Dennis Madden is a resident of Siesta Key and owner of lands along Beach Road

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