Monday, December 17, 2007

Meet Santa on Sunday!

Santa will arrive in Lake Sarasota on a firetruck on Sunday, Dec. 23rd, around 2 p.m. The truck will proceed through the neighborhood slowly, and Santa will wave and have candy canes.

Here's the route - note he begins at Mauna Loa and Bee Ridge, heads down Mauna Loa, up Bershire, back across to Lanai, then to Jarvis Rd., Lago Way, then the High School:



Santa should be arriving at the high school sometime around 2:40 p.m. He'll meet and greet kids for the next half hour or so.

And don't forget! Caroling begins at 5 p.m.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Scope Out These Winter Community Events

SCOPE is a local group - the name stands for Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence.

They want us to Save the Date in 2008:

Voter Registration Deadline Nears For January 29, 2008 Election

Media contact: Tel 941.861.8606 Fax 941.861.8609

(SARASOTA, FL,) –The voter registration deadline is approaching for the Presidential Preference Primary Election, which will be held on Tuesday, January 29, 2008. Citizens must be registered by Monday, December 31, 2007, to be eligible to vote in this election.

Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent recommends that voters verify their registration information. A voter who has moved, had a name change, or needs to update a signature since the last election may submit a Florida Voter Registration Application to update his or her record. For more information call the supervisor of elections at 861-8600 or write to Supervisor of Elections, PO Box 4194, Sarasota, FL 34230-4194.

To register to vote, one must submit a completed Florida Voter Registration Application Form. Florida Voter Registration Application forms are available at supervisor of elections offices, city halls, county libraries, county offices, social service agencies and many area banks or may be downloaded from the SOE Web site at www.srqelections.com.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday and New Year Activities, Events, Plans

At the December meeting, plans were made for holiday festivities, beautification, traffic calming, and citizens patrol.

1. Holiday: Sunday, December 23, 2 p.m. Plans call for Santa to ride through Lake Sarasota on a fire engine from the 17th St. Fire station. From 2 p.m. to roughly 3 p.m., Santa will be distributing candy canes (or small bottles of vodka) so make sure all Santa fans are out looking for him.

Here's the route:

Beginning at Bee Ridge and Mauna Loa, and proceeding to make a loop consisting of:

Berkshire -> Brentford -> Marlboro -> Friendship -> Lanai -> Jarvis

Click below for larger map or click here.



2. CAROLING: The same day, Sunday, Dec. 23rd, at 5 p.m., carolers will gather near the start of Mauna Loa (near where the community sign is located). There will be sheet music. Bring holiday attire, candles. There will be sheet music. The Carolers will probably proceed down Mauna Loa. Anyone is free to join at any point for as long as they wish.

3. Beautification: The Committee plans to place poinsettias near the flagpole.

4. Traffic Calming: The Board of County Commissioners has set Jan. 8th, 9 a.m. to decide on the request for stop signs along Mauna Loa. It is possible the item will be pulled from the agenda at the last minute. The best thing is for everyone who wishes to influence the commission to email the commissioners individually. Also, email Don Galloway, the manager of Traffic Operations.

The board will decide whether to approve one recommended stop sign along Mauna Loa. It may deny the request, or may decide to approve up to four signs.

Here are the relevant emails:


Don Galloway P.E. Manager
dgallowa@scgov.net

Paul Mercier - County Commissioner District 1
E-Mail: pmercier@scgov.net

Joe Barbetta - County Commissioner District 2
E-Mail: jbarbett@scgov.net

Shannon Staub - County Commissioner District 3
E-Mail: sstaub@scgov.net

Nora Patterson - County Commissioner District 4
E-Mail: npatters@scgov.net

Jon Thaxton - County Commissioner District 5
E-Mail: jthaxton@scgov.net


Mailing Address
County Commissioners
1660 Ringling Blvd.
Sarasota, FL 34236


5. Citizens Patrol: George Morgan needs someone to help schedule Citizen Patrols. Contact him (377-4437 or email) if you have a little time to make some phone calls. Also, for the holidays, even if you haven't had the training, you can pair up with someone who has, and see the Christmas lights while doing good for the neighborhood.

Water Line Project Update

For Lake Sarasota residents on Lago and Jarvis:

The water line construction contract with Frederick Derr was approved this morning. The pre-construction meeting will be held next week sometime. The contractor plans to begin right after the New Year.


County Utility and Public Works representatives will be at our next meeting at Sarasota Baptist, 6:30 pm January 8. The contractor will be there as well to answer questions. Please come to that meeting.

Monday, December 10, 2007

How the Lake Sarasota Community Group Began


(This is excerpted from a report presented to the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners in 2007)

In 2006, Lake Sarasota, a neighborhood of 1,600 homes, was approached by Sarasota County.

Debbie Marks of Sarasota’s Neighborhood Services, as it was then called, got out the word that there was help available if residents of Lake Sarasota wished to try to build neighborhood identity and a community group to address local issues. 

Several residents responded and began to meet. Several themes emerged: identity, neighborhood beautification, community events, security and traffic calming. 

Over the course of the next 16 months, Ms. Marks gave support, guidance, and served as a liaison as a core group of residents began work on these issues. The “core group” consisted of about a dozen active members who worked tirelessly, often getting out at the crack of dawn on weekends to clean up, to plant, to move bricks and mulch.

A brief list of initiatives and actions that have taken place over the past year would include:

Neighborhood identity 

  1. Lake Sarasota Signs at two entrances: Mauna Loa and Westminster
  2. Directory of neighbors and interests, skills (in development)
  3. Welcome wagon (currently suspended).
 
Beautification 

  1. Medians – picking up trash, painting curbs, plans to plant trees.
  2. Front entrance – removal of bricks, new flagpole and flag, new signs and landscaping.
  3. Westminster Entrance – new sign and landscaping
  4. Clean-ups – major neighborhood clean-up July 2006, 2nd set for July 28, 2007.
  5. Yard of the Month Program
  6. Lakeview Park Clean-up Mar.21-22, 2007.
  7. County improvements to Lakeview park – benches, tables, removal of deadwood, invasive plants, bathrooms, security gate.
 
Community Events 
  1. Regular monthly general meetings, committee meetings.
  2. Neighborhood Yard Sales Jan. 20, 2007; 2nd scheduled for May 19th 2007.
  3. Spring Flings (2006 and May 2007)
 
Security Matters 
  1. Traffic calming: two stop signs on Mauna Loa installed in 2007.
  2. Citizen Patrol: training, organizing, weekend schedule in operation.
  3. Neighbors helping Neighbors – helping elderly, infirm.
  4. Relations with police – monthly reports from community liaisons.
 
The group used a variety of means to communicate:

 
As a result of these efforts, with about $3,500 in funding help from the County, the neighborhood is cleaner, with a stronger sense of identity, and a spirit of community that is actively concerned with improving the appearance, the security, and the quality of life for the 1600 homes of Lake Sarasota.

The group’s efforts have also created revenue for local businesses – landscapers, alarm system vendors, food vendors. A local Realtor has also been a helpful contributor, funding various efforts including the newsletter.

Some new and ongoing plans for Lake Sarasota include:

  • Additional traffic calming measures (traffic tables or stop signs)
  • Protective, non-intrusive Lighting
  • Butterfly Garden
  • Community Garden in Park
  • Restoring pumps to Lakeview Park
  • Anything else we can think of to preserve property value and to push back  against effects of the recent softening of the housing market.
 
This last initiative deserves comment. The Florida real estate market, like much of the nation’s, is afflicted with negative consequences of the housing bubble of the past decade. Foreclosures are up, property taxes are up, home insurance costs at all-time highs. 

At times like this, some neighborhoods evince signs of depressed real estate value and physical deterioration – vacancies, ill-maintained properties, increased litter. Thanks to the spark provided by Debbie Marks, the Lake Sarasota Community Group has formed a strong and willing team that offers a positive spirit running counter to the current economic turmoil, dedicated to focusing on improvements for the good of the community.

We believe the investment of the county in our neighborhood has been a constructive example of unusually good policy. On Wednesday, April 25, 2007, the County Commission made it clear that this program is now imperiled, thanks to cuts in property taxes now being considered in Tallahassee. 

We are grateful that Lake Sarasota had the opportunity to experience the benefits of this governmental outreach. We understand that the county’s investment was far greater than its cash outlay, involving the time and effort of many who helped us make the progress we have made. 

This community now has an identity and a will to help itself that will repay that investment for years to come. In this time of deterioration, a program like this – which some in local and state government under fiscal pressure might consider a “frill” – could prove to protect and preserve quality of life and property value in ways both calculable and incalculable for years to come. 

Rather than a program the county cannot afford to keep, our experience in Lake Sarasota suggests it’s a clear example of good governance that Sarasota County cannot afford to lose.


  

Sunday, December 09, 2007

On the Tuesday County Commission Agenda

Several items of potential interest to Lake Sarasota residents are on the Tuesday, Dec. 11th County Commission Agenda:


20. PUBLIC WORKS

To approve a Contract with Frederick Derr and Company, Inc., for construction services of
the Lakeview Elementary School Area Sidewalk Project and the Jarvis Road Water Main Extension Project, in the amount of $1,622,104.68.

21. PUBLIC WORKS

To approve the use of contingency funds for improvements to sidewalks, as follows:

C. Webber Street, Phase II, Improvement Project, Lakeview Elementary School Improvement Project, CIP 85786, Shamrock Drive Improvement Project, CIP 95793, and North Sarasota Improvement Project, CIP 85785, in the amount not to exceed the Project's
contingency.


43. PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT SERVICES

A. Public hearing continued from August 29, 2007, to consider proposed Ordinance No.
2007-072, Palmer Place Development of Critical Concern (DOCC), a petition by Kemmons
Wilson, Inc., to construct 1,488 mixed residential dwelling units with 50 percent designated as Community Housing and Affordable Housing dwelling units on approximately 412 acres located south of Fruitville Road and east of the Palmer Boulevard and Iona Road intersection in a RSF-3/PUD (Residential Single-Family, 4.5 units/1 acre, Planned Unit Development) zone district. (Planning Commission recommended approval.);

B. Public hearing continued from August 29, 2007, to consider proposed Ordinance No.
2007-073, Rezone Petition No. 07-11, a petition by Robert Medred, Agent, to rezone
approximately 412 acres located south of Fruitville Road and east of the Palmer Boulevardand Iona Road intersection from OUR (Open Use, Rural, 1 unit/10 acres) to RSF-3/PUD zone district. (Planning Commission recommended approval.)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Agenda for December and for 2008

The last General meeting of the Lake Sarasota Community Group of the year is this Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. at Sarasota Baptist Church. Among the agenda items:

  • Seasonal activities - we're working on either a hayride, or caroling, or both, for either Saturday, Dec. 22 or Sunday, Dec. 23 - come help us figure it out! Anybody have a hay wagon to lend? Any more ideas? Contact Sandy if you do.
  • Are you concerned about taxes? Property appraisals? Foreclosures? Short sales? The Jan. 29th vote on some of these matters? We are too. We want to inform ourselves, and we're doing some planning.
  • Also, we'll start thinking about community events for the spring - yard sales, etc.
  • George Morgan needs someone to help schedule Citizen Patrols. Contact him (377-4437 or email) if you have a little time to make some phone calls.

Plus, get updates on

  • Traffic calming efforts.
  • The water line project on Jarvis/Lago (special meeting on that Jan. 8, 6:30 p.m., Sarasota Baptist).
Want to stay current on what's happening in Lake Sarasota? Get on our mailing list. Send your email address to LakeSarasota@gmail.com

Monday, December 03, 2007

Water Line Meeting Jan. 8th, 6:30 p.m.

If you have a stake or an interest in the water lines that will soon be installed along Jarvis Rd., Lago Way and Lago Rd., make a note to meet the contractor on Jan. 8, 2008.

Representatives of the county's public works, utilities, and the contractor, Derr Excavating, will be at Sarasota Baptist, in our regular Lake Sarasota Community Group meeting room at 6:30 p.m. A regular general meeting will follow at 7 p.m.

This is your chance to ask questions about costs, timing, sidewalks, and all else. Try to attend, and if you live in the impacted area, please make sure your neighbors know.

The fee schedule is below - click on it to enlarge:



Also: Low income financing might be available.
  • For general info, or more info about low income financing, call Linda Larsen, 861-0662.
  • For questions about the impact of the project on the neighborhood, call Rodney Jones, 861-0506. He will be the county's onsite representative once the project has begun.
  • For information about the installation of sidewalks, call Pinky Pakalapati, 861-0931 in Public Works.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Certain Elves have been Spotted . . .

. . . decorating the entrance signs:



they can be difficult to photograph,



but we have ocular proof:



Thanks to Tisha for the photos and to Dawn and all else for the work.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A word of thanks

If you've not been over to Lakeview Park recently, you have a surprise in store. Over the past few weeks, the Corrections Dept. crew has been out pretty much every day removing 10 years' worth of invasive undergrowth that was choking the canals and making it difficult to see the lakes, let alone play disk golf. They even dredged the canals to give the water space to move.



Clean sight-lines now look across opened-up vistas that offer a whole new perspective on the park. For one thing, I'll bet you didn't know that one of the small ponds (along the Lago Road side) has two small islands -- I asked one person who's been coming to the park nearly every day for years, and she said it was a revelation to her.


One odd thing: there are piles of dead wood that have been collected and placed at the base of some trees, many of which themselves are dead. I wondered why this wood hadn't been removed by the crew, which did a great job of removing tons of brush, weeds and invasives growing along the canals and ponds.



According to someone who spoke with Corrections, the reason is that Corrections was tasked specifically with dealing with the waterways. The department is reimbursed by the County for its work, but its work was carefully delimited and didn't include the piles of dead wood.

As my source noted, it might be difficult to find any contractor who would do the clearing any less expensively than Corrections, which uses inmate labor. Such are the vagaries of budgetary austerity. The unfortunate result is that while the park looks great, piles of dry wood that could prove a fire hazard going into the dry season are scattered around the park.

So in this time of Thanksgiving, we thank the County, and Parks and Rec, and Corrections. If we had a holiday wish, it's that someone would ask these good workers to finish the job.