Friday, September 13, 2013

Lake Sarasota to Apply for Neighborhood Grant


The Lake Sarasota Community Group voted unanimously to go forward with a Neighborhood Grant Application that would be used to beautify Mauna Loa Boulevard and create a children's ecological walkway from Mauna Loa to the school crossing at Hand Road.

The group -- a non-profit, all-volunteer association that collects no dues and does not impose deed restrictions -- took the action at its regular Sept. 12th general meeting.

Sarasota County is currently accepting applications for neighborhood grants for up to $10,000. Proposals must be in by November and those that are accepted for funding will hear in early 2014.

The focus on Mauna Loa evolved over the course of a lengthy brainstorming session that considered other options. What made it most appealing was the potential to tie in the planting of attractive trees and plants along the length of Mauna Loa with the prospective new landscaping that the County intends to install along Bee Ridge Road when that road is widened. The idea is to work with the County to find plantings that will be attractive in their own right, and accord -- i.e., match, or be in harmony with -- with the buffered landscaping on Bee Ridge.

Portions of Mauna Loa Blvd. are bare because several trees that were planted by the County a few years back did not survive. One of the LSCG board members who is a Master Gardner said Lake Sarasota's main road could use anywhere from nine to 14 additional trees or shrubs.

Another reason for going with the Mauna Loa plan is the possibility of tying it in with plantings and other work that would create a walkway environment for children who ride bicycles or walk to Lakeview School along the sidewalk from that runs to Hand Road from Mauna Loa. This is an idea that has been floated before, but not in concert with the improvement to Mauna Loa.

The walkway could involve neighborhood children in designing and painting fences along the walkway. Benches and labels identifying trees, plants and flowers might be added along with benches.

Combining the work of neighborhood parents and children along with other residents would help meet the grant specification that the neighborhood "earns" the grant by putting in work equivalent to $15 an hour. For a $3000 grant, that's 200 hours of community service.

Members of the LSCG invite input as they put together the proposal. This description of the grant will be posted on Facebook, and people can also get in touch via LakeSarasota@gmail.com. This press release contains more information about neighborhood grants.

In other meeting news:

  • The condition of Hina Point Park was noted as deplorable. One suggestion was to have an area business mow it in return for advertising. Another was to remove the broken benches, table, and linked fencing to make it simpler to mow. No action was taken, ideas are welcome.
  • The current Treasury for LSCG amounts to $358.71.
  • Some discussion revolved around placing a neighborhood bulletin board in a location that would be easily accessible and weatherproof. Ideas on this are welcome.
  • FDOT will be resurfacing its portion of Bee Ridge Rd. near the highway. The communities along Bee Ridge have asked the State to try to match the design that will be implemented with the County's design for widening Bee Ridge, which includes 10' sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and lighting. The state has not indicated an interest in matching the County's plan.
A working group will be meeting over the next month to put together Lake Sarasota's Neighborhood Grant application. The next regular meeting of the LSCG is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 12.

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