Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Commission approves Low Impact Design for Bee Ridge

After hearing a presentation from engineer Jeff Roberts, the Sarasota County Commission today approved, by a unanimous 5-0 vote, the Low Impact Design option for Bee Ridge Road east of I-75.

That means Bee Ridge Rd. will be four lanes from Mauna Loa Blvd. to Bent Tree, then two lanes from there out to Iona.

About 40 properties on the south side of Bee Ridge (many of them in Lake Sarasota) will be acquired - hopefully at reasonable and realistic market prices - in order to develop a broad corridor with community features such as meandering sidewalks, ponds, bio-swales, and a good deal of buffering between the road and communities that abut it.

(click to enlarge)

It's a wise and timely decision, given that new projects that will increase density, traffic, and noise along Bee Ridge are on the drawing boards.

Besides protection from noise, dust, pollution and sirens, the buffering and attractive landscaping will give the area east of I-75 a "Gateway" quality. Eventually the Bee Ridge Corridor will be extended through Rothenbach Park, and become a major link between the city and future development east of the park. In the long view, it is likely that the investment in quality will support and raise property values, in time repaying the County many times over in higher tax revenues. Current estimates for the whole Low Impact Design (LID) put it at $35.5 million, with construction to begin in 2014.

A 14-acre parcel north of Bee Ridge that was to have been used as a retention area if a simpler, less community-friendly design had been chosen may be sold and the funds used to help pay for the difference between the LID and the basic 4-lane project, which would have cost $31.5 million and involved the destruction of over 300 "significant" trees, not to mention offering virtually no buffer between homes and road. Indeed, the cheapest design would have had driveways coming directly on to Bee Ridge, causing slowdowns, and increasing the chance of accidents.

Much of the work behind getting the county to focus on the LID option was done by the Bee Ridge Neighborhoods Committee, led by Joe O'Hara and Don Schultz.

One aspect of the overall project that still will need some attention is the stretch from Mauna Loa Blvd. west to Cattlemen Rd., which lacks sidewalks. Given that children and others often do need to walk from Lake Sarasota along busy Bee Ridge to reach shopping on Cattlemen, it's a no brainer to make sure safe walkways, if not bikeways, are built into that segment, given that they will adorn every other segment from Mauna Loa to the east. Some of this work might come under FDOT and state planning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bee Ridge Road Public Hearing: Update

On Wed., Oct. 28, at 1 p.m., the Sarasota County Commission will hold a public hearing concerning plans for Bee Ridge Rd. east of I-75. Engineers will explain plans and probably answer questions, and presumably public comment will be invited. The hearing will be in the Commission chambers on Ringling Blvd. For more background on Bee Ridge projects, click here.

Important update from the Bee Ridge Neighborhoods Committee: The Public Hearing is still at 1 pm, but the actual presentation from the Engineers has been moved to 4:30 pm on Wed. Oct. 28:
County Staff has met with Commissioners earlier this week to secure their input and questions in preparation for the Wednesday, Oct 28 Commissioner meeting. This meeting will begin at 4.30 PM. Bee Ridge Road Construction will be the third agenda item. The County Administration Building is located downtown on Ringling Boulevard, across from the Post Office, just east of Orange Avenue. Come early to secure parking, located behind the building at Morrill Street. All BRNC members should attend. We also encourage you to invite a few of your Association Members who would support Bee Ridge Road construction.
Reason for the widening

Bee Ridge is at a level of service of F between Mauna Loa and Bent Tree, and traffic will only get worse as development east of I-75 increases. For example, an adult congregate living facility is planned on the Ansin property opposite Mauna Loa. It would generate an estimated 765 trips daily.

What's the difference in the plans?

Essentially, there are two ways to go (with a few minor variants). One plan calls for for a standard four-lane road from Mauna Loa out to Bent Tree (or to Iona). The second approach would allow for four lanes with much more buffering along the way, including ponds, meandering sidewalks, bio-swales and more, as far as Bent Tree. The second plan would cost more, because it entails buying right of way - acquiring a total of 50 properties on the south side of Bee Ridge Road - most of which are in Lake Sarasota. This plan would also enable the design to save nearly 300 healthy valuable trees.

Regardless of which plan, construction would not begin before 2014.


Standard four-lane to Bent Tree: $25 million (to Iona, $31 million).

Full buffered four-lane to Bent Tree: $35.5 million (to Iona, $41.5 million).

The County Commission could decide on this matter on Wednesday, according to Joe O'Hara of the Bee Ridge Neighborhood Committee, who urges residents to come to the County Commission chambers (1660 Ringling Blvd.) on Wednesday to voice their support for the buffered option to Bent Tree ($35.5 million). For more information, contact the Committee.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Update from LSCG President Bill Pitts

Hello Residents of Lake Sarasota:

We had a very interesting and informative meeting on Tuesday night. We had guest speakers from Florida Power & Light who discussed how we can lower our electric bills. It was valuable information.

We will be having another guest speaker on November 10, 2009 (7 pm). A representative from the Sarasota Fire Department will be at the meeting to discuss a program they have to replace batteries in your smoke detectors or actually provide you with a smoke detector free of charge. YOU MUST BE AT THE MEETING TO SIGN UP FOR THE FREE BATTERIES OR THE FREE SMOKE DETECTORS!

At Tuesday's meeting we had a treasury report, a report from the citizen's patrol (which was very positive), and we chose 3 new homes for the Yard of The Month Award.

Please be advised that we will be having a community garage sale on November 7th. For information on the sale and to be included in map, please call Sandy Allen at 321-5582, or email her at

At our meeting on December 8th, we will be having a drawing for a $50 gift certificate to Walmart. Be there so that you have a chance to win!! It could come in handy for Christmas!!

We have also found out that Santa Claus will be visiting Lake Sarasota on December 20th. Please step outside and say hello to Santa as he rides by on the fire truck.


Bill Pitts
Lake Sarasota Community Group

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Got bedbugs?

Ted reminds us that Sarasota's branch of IFAS has a whole Autumn calendar of programs to help with landscaping, bug control, Florida yards, bees, spiders, organic gardening, even bedbugs and retirement planning.

Get the complete brochure here.

IFAS is UF's Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences, a terrific resource. The local office is right in Twin Lakes Park.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

FPL was highlight of October LSCG Meeting

The main part of the October meeting was given over to a very useful presentation by two representatives from FPL, covering energy saving tips (also here) home energy surveys, and rebates for certain improvements.

Did you know, for example, that it's possible to get a rebate of up to $1,100 from FPL towards your home's next AC system?

To schedule a home energy survey, call 1-800-DIAL-FPL. (1-800-342-5375)

In other business:

The Treasury's current total is: $1262.19

Citizens patrol:

Sheriff's crime report covered only 4 incidents - three thefts, 1 burglary
  • Times: 10 am - 8 pm
  • No juvenile disturbances
  • No vandalism reported
  • Ted reminds us to keep an eye on vacant houses.
To learn more about Citizen's Patrol, call Ted (379-0758) or email him at

One person asked about who to call to get certain streets repaved. It was suggested they go down the street and tell everyone to call the county and bug them until the work is done.

Santa will appear on a fire truck on Sunday, Dec. 20, time to be announced.

Keep an eye on your cat - apparently someone recently found a cat that had been clubbed to death.

Three homes received Yard of the Month and will be hearing from Renee.

On Wed., Oct. 21 4:30, there will be a meeting of Friends of the Park, at Rothenberg Park.

Planning needs to get underway for the next big Community festival, which will probably be set for either March 27 or April 3 for OctoberFest. Contact Sandy

The next Garage Sale will take place on Nov. 7. There will be maps, and it will be advertised. Contact Sandy ( to get on the map!

Our next scheduled meeting will be Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 7 pm. At that meeting, the Fire Department will be discussing a program they have where they go into your home and replace the batteries in your smoke detector, or your smoke detector itself for free. You will need to be at the meeting to sign up for the free batteries or the free smoke detector.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Shocked by High Electric Bills?

IF so, come to the next monthly meeting of the Lake Sarasota Community Group on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m, when an FPL rep will talk about

Managing Electric Use
Explains FPL's energy-efficiency programs and tips to help residential, business or special-needs customers manage their bills and energy use.
The brief presentation and Q & A leads off the agenda (7 to 7:30 pm) which will also include:
  • A brief summary of the most recent Bee Ridge Committee Meeting (Ray)
  • Garage Sale and upcoming events, holidays. (Sandy)
  • Yard of the Month, Citizens Patrol Crime Report, Treasurer's Report (Renee, Ted, Ellie)
  • Updates on Current Business: Lakeview Park (Tom)
  • New Business, if any