Siesta Sand (section 1) - June 2024

Page 1

Roundabout ditched

Commissioners opt

away with the controversial construction when presented with a single, sky-high bid

They decided to go a different direction.

During a May 15 budget meeting, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners reached consensus to dispense with plans to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Beach and Midnight Pass roads. It was slated to have construction begin as early as the coming weeks.

Public Works Director Spencer Anderson said the project, estimated to cost $2.9 million as recent as last year, went out for bid and came back at $8.9 million with only one bidder. He said he spoke with representatives of the Florida Department of Transportation, the project funding source, who said they were committed to pay their part. However, with the hefty price tag, they

would like to cancel and put it out to bid again, which he said “may result in more bidders and may result in potentially more competitive costs.”

Anderson said FDOT was planning to continue with the same design, go back to the bidding pool, and wait 12 to 18 months to see what happens with the now-expensive construction market.

That’s when Mark Smith stepped in.

“The problem that the folks on Siesta Key have is that they don’t want it,” the District 2 commissioner and Siesta Key resident said during the topic’s discussion.

Smith also referred to a March meeting of the Siesta Key Association, Continued on page 18

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home for not only
The Siesta Key community came together to bid a fond and all too early farewell to one of its own. On May 20, several hundred people gathered on a sunny Monday morning at the landmark Siesta Key Oyster Bar for a celebration of life and remembrance. They came to pay tribute to Jill Pedigo, SKOB’s co-founder and co-owner. Pedigo passed away on May 7, at the age of 58, with her family at her side. Chicago Bears attire or “bright and fun clothes” were encouraged for all attending the event. Abundant bouquets of orange and white tulips, a nod to Pedigo’s beloved Bears, stood next to smiling photos of the Chicagoarea native who came to Siesta Key from Community blessings go out to the SKOB’s ‘Mama Bear’ Continued
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Pedigo in the
she called
her but countless others. (submitted photo)
on page 22
to do
Jill Pedigo Oct. 3, 1965 – May 7, 2024
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Task force to examine water access

Recommendations on commercial activity due to the county in September

The crew has been chosen and the ship is set to sail.

From a pool of 22 applicants, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners on April 23 appointed five members to a task force to consider the best way to handle commercial boating businesses -- such as charter fishing, tour boats, water sports and scuba diving -- in light of some businesses of that nature using public access points for pick-up and drop-off.

According to a Jan. 30 motion by District 3 commissioner Neil Rainford, the newly formed task force comprises two commercial, water-based activity operators with local business tax receipts, two water access/marina property owners or charter tour operators with a lease of land abutting the Marine Park District, and one member-at-large.

This means two members represent businesses operating out of county parks and two are owner/operators using privately owned marinas, representing both sides of this matter.

In a series of nominations and votes, the board appointed Brad Donahue of Siesta Key Watersports along with Jason Kobza of Low Tide Tours and Sarasota Boat Tours for the commercial water-based tour operator positions; Mason Tush of Tush Properties and CB’s Saltwater Outfitters (on Siesta Key) along with Sherman Baldwin of Hart’s Landing for the property owner or leaseholder spots; and Tony

Nakonetschny of Silent Sports Outfitters as the community member representative.

Following a rise in unauthorized use of the parks by unpermitted businesses in 2022, the commission directed staff to research a permit program for such businesses and, in late 2023, the board opted to allow the activity to continue unenforced until staff could present a plan for a task force. Currently, if enforced, a violator could be fined $500 per day or spend 30 days in jail.

Since the activities had been ongoing for decades without enforcement and private marina spots are few and far between, the commission opted to continue the pause in enforcement until a new plan was devised.

Members of the task force will meet through August to determine a mechanism by which businesses can continue to offer their services to the community and its visitors within a legal framework. Upon completion in September, the task force will present commissioners with a report of its findings and recommendations.

To apply to be on the task force, people were required to be Sarasota County residents and show proof of a business tax receipt and business use permit. Additionally, applicants were asked to list how long they have lived and worked in the county, as well as business credentials, licensing and community

involvement, and why they were interested in joining.

Baldwin has been a Sarasota County resident since 1985, owns and operates a charter fishing and tour boat business and, since 2017, has been a concessionaire of Hart’s

Landing -- a bait and tackle shop underneath the Ringling Causeway.

In a May 8 interview, Baldwin said he was qualified for any of the three task force categories so he listed each of them in his application, but was pleased to be selected as a representative of area property owners/ leaseholders in the Marine Park District. He said he looked forward to finding a resolution for the issue at hand, with the first meeting held May 20 in the county administration building. It was open to the public.

“Our plan is to finally determine exactly what the parameters for charter tour boat and recreational charter boat operations are going to be in the county,” Baldwin said. “I think that was never clearly defined before and we are going to determine what can and cannot be done in Sarasota County regarding tour boats and charter fishing boat operation.”

Baldwin said he was surprised that none of the task force members were representative of single-boat charter captains.

“There are people that were appointed that are charter boat operators, but I was hoping there might be a guy that is licensed and has insurance, but that’s his only boat, nothing else, and that group of people would be represented by that person,” he said. “That’s my only concern with the makeup of the task force itself.”

Baldwin said nearly half of his business at Hart’s Landing

is charter fishing captains. “Anybody that’s ever had a commercial boat that needs to find a place to run out of, even to just keep their boats when they’re not using it, is next to impossible,” he said, adding one of his tour boats has been on a waiting list for Marina Jack for more than five years.

“So, it’s a very difficult thing to find; not only a slip for a commercial boat, but a slip in which you pick up and drop off passengers.”

Regarding the task force mission, Baldwin pointed out that they are on a “fast track” to make recommendations that could set a precedent for similar situations around the state.

“This, I think, could possibly set the stage for the next 100 years. It could be really longterm decision making in light of this big question of how this will be handled,” he said. “There’s a lot of governing authorities, including municipalities, county and state agencies that will be looking at this. The federal government might even take notice since federal funding could be involved with future ramps and requirements would need to be met on their end.

“Our tourism economy relies on these matters. This affects everyone from the business owners to the average Joe and Jane that just want to go fishing in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. This is a huge issue with major ramifications.”

3 JUNE 2024 941.312.0665 27th State Media LLC
Above, Mason Tush of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters. Below, Sherman Baldwin of Hart’s Landing

Bathroom battles in full swing

For Siesta Key, it was a matter of potty politics at May15 county budget meeting

“When you gotta go, you gotta go,” District 4 commissioner Joe Neunder said May 15 regarding the need for Siesta Key public bathrooms during a Sarasota County budget meeting.

Neunder, who represents the southern half of the island, was responding in support of a request for public bathrooms in the Village, a matter that has been under discussion for about two years but is now being considered as part of the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

During the meeting, Public Works Director Spencer Anderson presented information for development and permitting the bathrooms as a capital improvement item at the request of District 2 commissioner

Mark Smith, who represents the northern half of the Key and resides there.

Anderson presented the options and said, with FEMA requirements in the area, open bathroom structures would require removable floodproofing for storm events.

“There isn’t a way to build an open structure with the floodplain elevations in that area,” Anderson said, showing commissioners examples of structures with removable gate-like doors that guard the entryway opening. He did not disclose an estimated cost.

Anderson also noted there were no known exceptions or variances to the requirements.

Smith, however, said he believed he found one in the

county’s standards and codes. He referenced, in part, the potential for a variance applying to examples of a “hardship, including “the importance of the services provided by the proposed development to the community” and “the compatibility of the development with existing and anticipated development.

“I would request staff to review this … It seems to me …. that the county would fall under the variance criteria. I believe we can make it happen. I’m not going to give up on this. It’s just overkill.”

The elimination of such extreme measures, and hopefully the costs and red tape associated with them, would be Smith’s goal.

“I believe strongly, because of the size -- we are talking about

two toilet stalls next to the gazebo -- that it shouldn’t be this hard,” he said.

District 3 commissioner Neil Rainford agreed, exclaiming that the examples Anderson displayed “look like gates to a throne. It’s wild.”

“Siesta Key needs this,” he added. “I know you have been fighting for it for a long time and if there’s an opportunity to go through from the variance perspective, I think I’d be in favor of that.”

Smith has suggested a simple structure with 5-inch-by-5-inch

galvanized steel posts that are similar of the look of the Village’s gazebo, with metal panel walls and a metal roof that would also match the gazebo, at an estimated base cost of around $15,000, depending upon the potential need for site improvements. Last August, Wendal Jacobsen, manager of Beach Bazaar, pledged that some of the business’ property adjacent to where the gazebo sits could be donated for the creation of the public restroom.


Immerse yourself in a community that nurtures personal growth and celebrates the joy of uncovering the creative spirit within.

Please call us at 941.966.5611 to schedule a tour and learn more.

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4 Siesta Sand JUNE 2024 941.312.0665
page 23
Left, Village gazebo. Right, historic cottage at Beach Access 7 Continued
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Resident files traffic signal complaint

Wallace’s lawsuit alleges the traffic signal at Avenue B & C on Stickney Point Road would put lives at risk and requests judicial review

It is yet to be activated, but a traffic signal at Avenue B & C on Stickney Point Road is again drawing ire.

Island resident Jim Wallace on April 19 filed a complaint against Sarasota County with the 12th Judicial Circuit Court which states activation of the traffic signal would create further traffic hindrances on a roadway already plagued with slowdowns, leading to “grave danger” for emergency medical vehicles and hurricane evacuation egress and ingress for Siesta Key.

The road is one of two providing access to the barrier island.

“Making this signal operational would adversely affect his, and many others’, ability to safely enter and leave the barrier island of Siesta Key via Stickney Point Road to access hospital facilities and doctors during medical emergencies and deal with emergency hurricane evacuations,” Wallace’s attorney, Ralf Brookes of Cape Coral, states in the complaint. “The operation of the traffic signal at Avenue B & C would create a new and dangerous condition causing unreasonable additional significant traffic delays placing human lives at risk in the event of medical emergencies and hurricane evacuations on the southern portion of the barrier island of Siesta Key …”

In February, at a meeting of the

Siesta Key Association, a neighborhood group that works to protect quality of life for residents, Wallace threatened to take action against the county for its approval of a plan to build the Siesta Promenade, with the traffic signal at the core of his concerns.

The light was mandated by the county as a requirement when it first approved the development in 2018 as part of an entryway.

The signal is installed, but the light is not yet activated. Wallace claimed traffic studies indicated the light would lead to stopped traffic every 85 seconds on a road already besieged by gridlock.

A mixed-use development

comprising 414 apartments/ condominiums, a 130-room hotel, 33,000 square feet of retail space and 7,000 square feet of office space, the promenade will be located at the northwest corner of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road.

The complaint also includes a reference to the recent court decisions against the county by the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings and the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in relation to the approval of highrise hotels, which advised against development in the area due to possible hurricane evacuation issues, further demonstrating a failure of the county to follow


through with limitations imposed by its comprehensive plan.

Both rulings involved lawsuits by Siesta Key resident Lourdes Ramirez, and Wallace’s complaint noted that both a Florida state administrative law judge and Sarasota County judge made the following findings: “There are only two bridges — Siesta Drive Bridge and Stickney Point Road Bridge — that provide access and evacuation routes to the mainland from Siesta Key. Both of the bridges are designated as constrained roads by the comprehensive plan. ... This means that while on the

bridges, ‘speed and freedom to maneuver are severely restricted. Small increases in traffic would generally cause operational problems at this level.’ ... Therefore, the county has accepted’ an additional responsibility … to not allow the existing operating conditions to be degraded.’”

The comprehensive plan, a guideline for growth and development in the county, contains a “transportation element” which Wallace claims is being violated through the activation of this traffic signal as part of the Siesta Promenade development on an already “constrained road.”

In conclusion, the filing states, “Plaintiff Wallace has on numerous occasions provided written and oral notice to the county that he would seek judicial review, declaratory and injunctive remedies, as appropriate, for a court to review and declare that the traffic signal at Stickney Point Road and Avenue B & C places human lives in danger during medical emergencies and hurricane evacuations,” and formally requests a court-ordered hearing on the matter.

Wallace previously filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Transportation regarding its approval of the traffic signal, but lost an initial ruling and appeal.

6 Siesta Sand JUNE 2024 941.312.0665
Traffic signals have been erected at Avenue B & C along Stickney Point Road.

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County tourism numbers dip

However, Siesta businesses hold steady

Tracking tourism has been tricky in recent years. From the COVID-19 travel stoppage to the postpandemic surge, our visitor numbers have swung wildly to reflect the unprecedented times we’ve been living through.

On the one hand, it’s nice to see things getting back to normal. On the other, “normal” means watching our visitation numbers dip for more mundane reasons, like a slower economy. That’s what seems to have happened during our 2023-2024 tourist season.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the economy,” said Taylor Eason of Parasail Siesta. “It seems a lot of travelers decided to skip the trip and save the extra [money] this year.” Still, the slowdown was relatively minor, and Siesta Key remains among the shiniest gemstones in Sarasota’s many-splendored tourism crown. After surviving and adapting during the strange days of COVID-19, many Siesta Key businesses remain relatively

unfazed by the most recent economic hiccup.

Visit Sarasota County, the region’s tourism marketing entity and visitor information service, recorded a slight decrease in visitor numbers and overall economic impact in the first six months of the 2024 fiscal year (October 2023 through March 2024), compared to the same period last season. Last year’s first six months saw 727,100 visitors to Sarasota County, for a total economic impact of roughly $1.56 billion; the same period this year saw 657,200 visitors for more than $1.53 billion.

Those figures represent a 10% season-to-season visitor drop-off, but only a 1.5% reduction in economic impact.

Those countywide margins are small enough that not everyone on Siesta Key even noticed a slowdown.

“Season for us at Clayton’s Siesta Grille has been great!” said Jacob Butler,

the restaurant’s general manager. “We saw about the same number of guests as last year in January and February. In March we saw an

8% increase in our guest count compared to last year.”

First-time diners, he added, accounted for more than half of their business.

For other tourism-based businesses, the slowdown was small enough to be overcome with adaptation.

“We were unfortunately slower this winter and spring compared to aprevious years,” said Eason. “However, we added a new tiki boat to our business that brought in great revenue and helped us to maintain the same numbers in previous years.”

In fact, shifting tourist activities will always be something for Siesta Key leaders to keep their eyes on. Even as our overall numbers dipped, the Siesta Key Chapel has developed

a “robust following” for its Sunday services on the beach, according to Pastor Ruth Smalt. Those attendance numbers culminated in a whopping 650 worshippers at the chapel’s 2024 Easter service on the beach — a huge jump from 260 attendees last year. And though we traditionally consider our local tourist season to run from Thanksgiving through Easter, tourism is now a boon yearround. After the 2023 season hit $1.5 billion, last year’s total 12-month economic impact from tourism reached almost $4.3 billion — that means visitors accounted for another $2.7 billion during the region’s “off season.”

Siesta Key businesses still have the whole summer to make up their margins.

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While the overall economic numbers dipped a tad this year as far as Sarasota County is concerned, Siesta Beach remained a big attraction — as it always does. (Photo courtesy of Sarasota County) High Tide Tiki Tours carries sightseers around the Gulf waters off Siesta Key at sunset. (Submitted photo)

Community Spotlight

QYou are Audubon Florida’s new shorebird coordinator for the territory that includes Siesta Key. Congratulations! How did you get involved with the organization?

AI’ve been conducting conservation research in Sarasota County for several years, often beginning my days on Siesta Beach. My fascination with our local bird species led me to spend hours observing them, whether it was watching a reddish egret at the shoreline or trying to identify birds of prey overhead.

When I saw the opportunity to join Audubon, I jumped at the chance. They quickly welcomed me to the flock, and it’s been an incredible experience so far this season.

QAsSiesta Key crowds continue to grow, difficulties continue to mount for its shorebirds. How would you describe the current state of the shorebird situation here?

ATheshorebird nesting situation on Siesta Key is quite challenging. We’ve observed evidence of a least tern colony beginning to nest between Beach Access #10 and Siesta Key public beach. This marks the first time we’ve seen least terns nesting on Siesta Key in approximately eight years, which is incredibly exciting news.

Occasionally, we witness snowy plovers attempting to nest north of the public beach as well. However, with factors like dogs, litter, and overcrowding, these birds encounter significant obstacles. The constant presence of people disturbs nesting sites, making it difficult for shorebirds to thrive -- let alone to successfully raise their chicks. Additionally, we observe a sizable flock of black skimmers that come to Siesta Key during the winter months. Unfortunately, they too face similar challenges. As Siesta Key continues to attract larger

crowds, the pressures on its shorebird populations intensify. It’s imperative that we raise awareness and implement measures to mitigate these threats, ensuring the continued presence and protection of these vulnerable species.

Q Which birds are facing the biggest crisis? In contrast, are any bird populations thriving here?

A Among the shorebird species found on and near Siesta Key, the least tern, snowy plover, American oystercatcher, black skimmer, and Wilson’s plover face a myriad of challenges. These include habitat loss, disturbance to nesting sites from human activities, and predation.

However, conservation efforts tailored to these species have yielded promising results in certain areas. For instance, beach management practices like posting signs and roping off nesting areas have proven effective in safeguarding nests and chicks. Notably, the American oystercatcher has exhibited some recoveries, thanks to conservation efforts focused on protecting habitats and mitigating threats like pollution and habitat destruction.

Additionally, community engagement and education initiatives have heightened awareness about the importance of shorebird conservation, resulting in positive outcomes for these vulnerable species. While challenges persist, these efforts demonstrate that with ongoing support, shorebird populations can thrive in our coastal environments.

QWhat rules of thumb should Siesta Key residents and visitors be aware of in regard to co-existing with our shorebirds?

ASiesta Key residents and visitors play a crucial role in co-existing with shorebirds and protecting their habitats. Here are some important guidelines to keep in mind: Respect posted signs and roped-off areas: These indicate

sensitive nesting sites, so it’s essential to avoid disturbing these areas to give shorebirds space to nest and raise their chicks.

Dispose of trash properly : Litter can attract predators and pose a threat to shorebirds. Be sure to dispose of trash in designated bins to help keep beaches clean and safe for wildlife.

Remember, pets are not allowed on Sarasota County beaches. This rule ensures the safety of shorebirds, humans, and pets. Keeping pets away from nesting sites is crucial, as they can disturb nesting shorebirds and pose a threat to their survival. By respecting this rule, we minimize disturbance and protect both wildlife and pets.

Keep a safe distance: When observing shorebirds, maintain a respectful distance to avoid causing unnecessary stress or disturbance, even when they are not in roped-off areas. Use binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens to get a closer look without intruding on their space. It may seem fun to let kids run through flocks of birds at the waterline, but the birds need to cool off too and we need to give them their space!

By following these simple guidelines, residents and visitors can help ensure the well-being of shorebirds and contribute to their conservation on Siesta Key.

If you are interested in getting more involved with shorebird conservation, there’s no better way than becoming a shorebird steward! Relax on the beach while educating other beachgoers about our local feathered friends. Plus, you’ll get to see so many cute chicks!

(Contact Briner at emily. for more information).

The bird is her word Emily Briner is Siesta Key’s new shorebird coordinator
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Reviewed December18, 2023

Tara H. via TripAdvisor


This was our second visit, this time with family from Minneapolis near Christmas. WHAT a perfect delicious dinner on all levels! My daughter's family, very discerning food critics, said the Dungeness crab was equal to the best they had in Latin America. They inhaled their supper with gusto!

We love the more natural low key atmosphere and the close proximity of the staff to the dining area. This helps them too in observing guest experience, valuable feedback.

The fresh fish selection of approximately 8-10 varieties is impressive and well represented with truly delicious options. We had their fresh steamed clams in butter — small super fresh and so sweet. Even saved the broth to make homemade Italian clam marinara later! And their crab cake was amazing.

The "maraschino cherry" of our perfect dinner was their EXCELLENT key lime pie, home made by them, served with genuine whipped cream.


From the Market... Large selec tion of fresh seafood Special Orders Welcome! 7119 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota Just off the Key, 1/4 mile south of Stickney Point Road 11 AM - 8 PM Monday-Saturday • Full menu available for takeout 941-413-7133 | Feeling Crabby? Join us for a Steam Pot, Crab Pot or “gluten free” Crab Cakes.
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Gotta dig those new digs

Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center settle into new headquarters on Avenida Navarra

The welcome mat is out at the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center’s spacious new offices. In late April, after many years at Davidson Plaza, the chamber made the move to its new headquarters at 5223 Avenida Navarra.

newspapers, and other information about where to go and what to do on Siesta Key.

Videos depicting the island’s beautiful beaches and village run on a large-screen television. The brightly colored walls painted a tropical shade of blue green are decorated with island artwork.

Large windows face the street.

“We are all moved in and open for business,” said executive director Ann Frescura.

One block west of Ocean Boulevard in Siesta Village, the chamber’s new building is nearly three times as large as the space that served as the organization’s base of operations for so many years. “Our new offices have close to 3,000 square feet,” said Frescura. The former space was approximately 1,300 square feet.

Visitors who drop in are greeted by the same friendly and knowledgeable volunteers who staffed the former location. The new lobby space allows a greater selection of brochures, pamphlets,

Inside, the new offices contain private offices for the chamber’s four staff members, a spacious conference room with seating for six, a kitchen, and much-needed storage areas.

“We were able to surrender six storage units and bring those materials into this space,” said Frescura. “We’ve never had a conference room before and the kitchenette is a great addition.

“The move really went quite smoothly. We were even a few days ahead of schedule, but we certainly could not have done it without so much great support.”

Relocating after so many years in one location was not without its challenges. Looking back, it was a massive team effort, she said, that got the job done.

“Because of a number of generous donations, our new office is not only much more spacious but also more functional,” Frescura said.

Support for the move came in a number of ways. Expressing her thanks, she detailed the numerous contributions:

A new refrigerator for the kitchen was donated by Badger Bob’s Services.

Code Studio donated office equipment and furniture.

Dex Imaging donated time and labor and made it possible for the chamber to relocate its large copier machine from the old space to the new.

NuLook Pressure Cleaning brightened the new office facade’s exterior and windows.

Smith Architects donated the architectural blueprints for the new office.

Tommy’s Express Car Wash donated a conference table and six chairs.

Frescura also expressed her thanks to the firms that worked with the chamber before and during the move, saying: “I’d also like to express our thanks and gratitude to College HUNKS Moving Co.; Elliott Works, LLC.; Gulf Coast Construction; I-net Solutions; OMNI Communications; PCM Cleaning; Sarasota County for the new directional signs; and SJM Enterprises.”

Looking back on the last few months, Frescura also expressed her thanks to the chamber’s volunteers.

“Our loyal volunteers were, and continue to be, so vital in allowing us to serve the public and meet our mission. Thanks to everyone’s

Continued on page 19

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The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce is open for business (Jane Bartnett photo)
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Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 941-927-2270

Cafe Gabbiano is one of Siesta Key’s most celebrated restaurants. Known far beyond our shores for its fine wine and cuisine, diners will discover more than 200 different wines and awardwinning Italian/American cuisine.

In 2023 the landmark dining spot, located in the corner of Davidson Plaza in Siesta Village, received the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence; Open Table’s Diner’s Choice Award; and Trip Advisor’s Travelers Choice Award. In 2020, Wedding Wire gave Cafe Gabbiano its Couples Choice Award.

Gabbiano GREAT

From June 1 through 14, during the annual Savor Sarasota countywide event, diners visiting Cafe Gabbiano can enjoy the restaurant’s special $40 three-course prix fixe dinner that includes an appetizer, main course, and dessert.

Cafe Gabbiano and Miguel’s on the south end of the island are the only two Siesta Key restaurants taking part in the 2024 program.

Entering Cafe Gabbiano’s welcoming and friendly atmosphere is like stepping into a small corner of Italy. At the main entrance of the 4,000-square-foot interior there is a bright climate-controlled dining room and bar that can accommodate up to 150 people. The restaurant’s interior contains private rooms and cozy intimate dining spaces. On any given day, a special event is being celebrated and more than one bride and groom have toasted their special day here.

This spring, a sea of gleaming

Ferraris in a rainbow of colors filled the parking lot when more than 30 members of the Gentlemen’s Drivers Group and the Ferrari Drivers Group Sarasota came to dinner. For the occasion, the pastry chef created a special three-tiered cake, decorated in Ferrari colors, topped with the iconic Ferrari logo of a black horse on a yellow background.

“It was a night of amazing food, great people and spectacular cars,” recalled

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Jodi Hockert-Lotz and John Dankievitch enjoy martinis The couple was visiting Siesta Key Top: Cafe Gabbiano on a spring evening. Bottom: The Ferrari Drivers Group and Gentlemen’s Drivers Group dinner. Right: A cake to celebrate the Ferrari Drivers Group.

Gabbiano the GREAT

Cafe Gabbiano manager Kris Pierce. Quarterly wine dinners are a tradition at Cafe Gabbiano.

Said Pierce, “This spring we had Tom Porter with us for our Porter Family Vineyards Winemaker Dinner.” Porter, who visits Sarasota and is a friend of the restaurant’s owners, owns the Napa Valley vineyard. During the four-course meal, Porter discussed his wines that were served with each selection.

“We began with caviar and shrimp paired with chardonnay,” said Pierce. “Then, tartare made with Allen Brothers beef, which we consider to be the best in the county, was paired with petite sirah. Allen Brothers short ribs with bone, or seared ahi tuna, and garlic whipped potatoes followed, paired with cabernet. For dessert, chocolate soufflé was paired with Porter’s Cave Dwellers Blend.”

Pierce paused as he thought back on the evening. “It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had,” he said.

At the time of this interview, both of Cafe Gabbiano’s owners were away on business. Marc Grimaud, a certified sommelier, was in Verona, Italy attending the annual Vinitaly -- the international wine and spirits event. Peter Tracy, who brings many years of senior restaurant management experience with national brands to his role as general manager, was attending a major restaurant event.

Pierce attributes Cafe Gabbiano’s extraordinary success to the two men’s vision.

Grimaud took ownership in 2012 and Tracy joined him as co-owner soon after. Together they have shaped the restaurant into a place that is widely known for its wine, food and welcoming atmosphere, drawing in visitors and local residents alike.

“They’re great people,” said Pierce.

Grimaud also serves as board president of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals, a group of restauranteurs dedicated to supporting local independent restaurants.

“We’re known for our service,” said Pierce. “Our people go the extra mile.”

Discussing the magic that takes place in the kitchen each night, Pierce spoke with admiration about the restaurant’s acclaimed head chef, Paolo Di Costanzo. Hailing from the volcanic Italian isle of Ischia, 19 miles north of Capri, Di Costanzo’s fresh, handmade pasta, seafood, beef, and chicken dishes have won praise. “His sauces are made from scratch,” said Pierce. “Everything is fresh here. All of our desserts are also made in-house.”

Pasta dishes range from truffle or lobster ravioli to linguine pescatora. Beef, chicken and fish entrees are also on the menu. Allen Brothers filet mignon and a 12-ounce center cut veal chop are featured. Chicken dishes include pollo Milanese.

Fish lovers will find Mediterranean seabass, grouper, Scottish salmon, and freshly sourced fish of the day. Families are welcome and every “bambino meal” comes with a gelato sundae.

Daily happy hours being at 5 p.m. and run until 6:30 p.m. Signature cocktails are $10. Happy-hour appetizers and drinks, available only at the bar, are $7.

To learn about Cafe Gabbiano’s special events and wine dinners held through the year, sign up for email notifications at

All food and wine is available “to go” and wine shop purchases, when purchased to go, are 30% off. Off-site catering is also available and reservations for on-site events can be made online. Cafe Gabbiano is open for dinner daily, including Christmas Day, from 5 to 10 p.m. Call (941) 349-1423.

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martinis at one of the restaurant’s outside tables. Key from Westport, Massachusetts.

New location, new director, same great vibe

The Siesta Key Farmers Market is thriving in the heart of the Village

The Siesta Key’s Farmers Market, the island’s own open-air Sunday morning bazaar, is thriving in its new home in the center of the Village. Adjacent to the gazebo, in the Beach Bazaar parking lot, vendors and marketgoers alike can’t say enough about setting up their tables and tents in the heart of town.

In November, after many years at Davidson Plaza, the popular market moved down the street and relocated to its new location at 5211 Ocean Blvd.

Lloyd Dobson, the market’s long-time manager and local artist, handed over his duties to Mike Crider who’s been a vendor at the market for 12 years, selling his 100% cotton Tunisian Fouta Spa towels and bedspreads.

“It’s been so much busier here,” reported Crider, who is also a working film and television actor. “Beach Bazaar is happy to have us and we work well together. Being next to the gazebo fits the vibe of Siesta Key in a really good way. People come from all over the world and enjoy the beautiful unique items made by local artisans. They love the fresh produce, the foods, and crafts.

People want to shop locally.”

On a sunny Sunday at noon in mid-May, business was brisk as shoppers stopped to pick up a refreshing bottle of juice from the Neighborhood Juice table. They continued on to the colorful local produce on display at Mr. C’s Produce stand. Plump white and purple onions sat next to bright red tomatoes.

“Those are strawberry onions,” said Claude Overly, manning the space with his son Scott who was busy offering samples of fresh cantaloupe to shoppers.

“They’re Florida fresh and delicious,” said Overly of the strawberry onions that are grown in the Plant City area and unique to the region. Although they don’t taste like strawberries, they are grown alongside strawberry fields and only available in the fall and spring.

Shoppers were also buying pastries, cookies, and freshly made breads of all varieties at the Bread Bandits booth where the tips jar read “TIPS, college tuition.” The Bread Bandits bakery and store is just over the north bridge on South Osprey Avenue.

Conveniently, the 85 Drips coffee wagon, stationed nearby, offered the perfect complement to a delicious Sunday pastry.

Nearby, Chip English was overseeing his craft beer-infused Spiked Pickles operation. A trained chef, English wore a T-shirt that read “I Love Farmers Markets.”

“We’re based in Sarasota and only partner with local breweries and local Florida farmers,” he said.

At the Siesta Key Rum tent, shoppers were picking up bottles of rum to take home. Siesta Key’s most famous lifeguard, Scooter on the Beach, is on site at the booth every Sunday from 9 to 11 a.m.

The air was filled with the happy songs of musician Siesta John, who often plays at the market.

Meanwhile, jewelry, home design and art vendors were busy welcoming shoppers as they enjoyed their visit to Siesta Key’s local marketplace.

Silversmith Jiayi Li, who makes her home on Siesta Key, talked to buyers about her delicate, hand-crafted, sterling silver and gold-filled jewelry designs. Many were drawn to pieces that were adorned with gemstones and pearls.

“I’ve had a good day,” said Li, as closing time drew near. “This is the best market I’ve ever done.”

Riverview High School teacher Kimberly Johnson, a Sarasota native, was showing her hand-crafted jewelry and “sea treasures” made with the famous white Siesta Key sand. Her wellpriced key chains, necklaces and bracelets were selling well.

Artists are always hard at work and award-winning Sarasota fine artist Roseann Gaglio is no exception. A member of the Southeastern Pastel Society, Gaglio was at work under her white tent, painting a portrait of a young man. Framed portraits of pets and people hung on her tent’s walls.

A banner proclaiming “painting memories in portraits and wall murals” welcomed visitors to her space.

For the past 13 years, Jeanne Heere’s custom shell decor business called Little Piece of Paradise has been a regular attraction. Customers return again and again to visit with Heere and buy her Siesta Key-sourced home goods.

While assisting several Chicago visitors who asked about her shell-decorated mirrors, lamps, and frames, Heere pointed out her

newest offering:

“This is a tribute to the pink flamingos that were blown off course during Hurricane Ian and now make Siesta Key home,” she said. “I painted these white starfish shells pink, added some pink feathers, miniature sunglasses, and red and white caps. They’re a fun Christmas ornament.”

As one, if not the longest, vendor at the Siesta Key Farmers Market, what does she think of the market’s new location?

“I’m so glad that we’re here,” she said without hesitation. “It’s so much better!”

The market is held every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the summer months, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting in the fall.

Typical appearance and behavior

16 Siesta Sand JUNE 2024 941.312.0665
akes for good reason With a generally placid inner and exper t handlers alike Also known as Royal ncient Egyptian aristocrats used to "wear" them h status The more common name, Ball P y thon, l with their head in the middle when threatened Youngsters t ypically star t out
Left: Siesta Key Farmers Market director Mike Crider discusses his wares with a customer. Right: Siesta Key resident and silversmith Jiayi Li in her Classic Markings booth at the market. Bottom: Siesta Key Rum tent at the Siesta Key Farmers Market. (Photos Jane Bartnett)
on a diet of live or " frozen thawed" fuzz y mice and work their way up to larger rats as adults Captive care is relatively simple as they don' t need much more than a snug hiding place, a source of heat, clean water, and a weekly meal to thrive
• Ball P y thons are bred with a near endless variet y of color morphs Depending on the animals' genetics, they are available in thousands of unique colorations and pat terns Ball P y thons are t ypically nocturnal, so they are much more likely to be out and about at night • Like most other non-venomous snakes, Ball P y thons are constrictors, meaning they quickly grab and coil their bodies around their prey before swallowing the prey whole • Adults are t ypically as easy going as it gets, a Ball P y thon is happy to snuggle up around your neck or arm for as long as their handler pleases CR I T TER OF THE MON TH Ball P y thon P y thon regius Ser ving the Florida Gulf Coast Since 1975 Welcome to Seascape Aquarium & Pet Center. We have : • 10,000 feet of showrooms • 25,000 gallons of freshwater, salt water and coral. Located in Gulf Gate 2162 Gulf Gate Drive Store hours : Monday-Friday 10 AM - 6 PM Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM Sunday 12 - 4 PM 941-92 2-0914 info@seascapeaquariums .com seascapeaquariums .com 30% OFF ALL BALL PYTHONS FOR JUNE!

Salad … $20

grilled shrimp or chicken Kale Salad … $21


Grouper Sandwich … $21

Salmon BLT … $20 Mahi Mahi Sandwich … $20

Chicken Sandwich … $14

Cheeseburger … $14 Vegan Burger … $13

Back Ribs … $25

Orange Pecan Chicken … $17

Filet Mignon … $25

Filet Mignon & Stuffed Shrimp … $35

Filet Mignon & Maine Lobster Tail $50

Stuffed Shrimp & Maine Lobster Tail $42

Twin Maine Lobster Tails … $55


Gulf Shrimp … $21 Fish & Chips … $20 Fried Combo … $29


Shrimp & Crab Scampi … $25

Salmon Pasta … $22

Chicken & Shrimp Curry … $22

Sweet ‘n Spicy Chicken & Shrimp $22

Jambalaya … $23

Pasta Primavera … $16


Turtle Pie … $10

Key Lime Pie … $10

Sample Platter … $13

Ice Cream Bar … $7

*Prices subject to change

17 JUNE 2024 941.312.0665 27th State Media LLC T U R T L E S On Little Sarasota Bay Casual Waterfront Dining Fun, Fresh & Affordable 8875 Midnight Pass Rd. • Sies t a Key 941-346-2207 • Tur tlesr es t aurant .com t u r t l e s s i e s t a k e y • t u r t l e s s i e s t a k e y R i d e t h e S i e s t a B r e e z e Tr o l l e y f r o m t h e V i l l a g e I t ’ s Tu r t l e s T i m e ! Turtles All Day Menu APPETIZERS Sweet ‘n Spicy Shrimp … $12 Coconut Shrimp … $13 Shrimp Cocktail* … $12 Calamari … $13 Stuffed Mushrooms … $12 Fish Bites … $13 SIDE SALADS Fresh Garden Salad* … $8 Caesar Salad … $9 Turtles Wedge* … $13 Kale Salad … $12 SOUPS New England Clam Chowder Cup … $7 Bowl … $9 Signature Crab Bisque Cup … $9 Bowl … $13 SALADS Turtles Salad … $21 Turtles Deluxe Salad … $17 Caesar
Shrimp … $24 Potato Crusted Haddock … $22 Coconut Crusted Mahi Mahi … $21 Gulf of Mexico Grouper … $24 Salmon … $24 Sea Scallops … $23 Shrimp and Seafood Au Gratin $17 Fisherman Platter … $32 Baby
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April 11, theft

A convenience store reported that a subject entered the store and was observed taking items from the shelves and concealing them. The subject then walked past the point of sale without paying for the items.

The items included a Reese’s candy bar, Nerds candies, a Twix bar, beef jerky, and a large cup of coffee. The items totaled approximately $14.80.

The subject was located and placed under arrest.

April 16, burglary

A sheriff’s deputy arrived at the scene of a reported burglary. Complainant indicated that approximately $3,000 in cash, which was hidden in a compartment in a bed, was discovered missing. Complainant indicated that no one else had entered his apartment during the relevant period. There was no evidence of forced entry.

The manager of the clearing service that had access to the apartment was interviewed but denied that the cleaning crew

had been in the apartment during the relevant time period.

April 18, theft

Complainant, the owner of a store, indicated to a sheriff’s deputy that a young female had stolen merchandise from his store. Specifically, the complainant indicated that the complainant had taken several items to the dressing room, put most of the items back, purchased a sticker with cash, and then left the store. However, the complainant noticed several empty hangers on the floor near where the female had been in the store. The complainant believed that the stolen items consisted of a white swim top valued at $58, a white swim bottom valued at $25, and a white T-shirt valued at $65.

Photographs of the subject were obtained and processed into evidence.

April 25, check theft

Complainant stated that she mailed a check around March

Sheriff’s Report

27 in the amount of $1,785.25 to a homecare company. She received notice from the homecare company that it never received the check.

The complainant found that the check was cashed at a bank in Seminole County. The check appeared to have been altered to change the name it was made out to but the amount of the check was not changed.

April 26, burglary

Complainant told sheriff’s deputy that someone broke into his vehicle the prior evening. Complainant indicated he parked his vehicle in his driveway around 1 a.m. and, when he approached his vehicle the following morning, he noticed the center console was open.

He alerted his wife and they checked the vehicle and noticed that the center console tray and approximately $30 to $40 in change was missing.

April 29, airline miles theft

Complainant called the sheriff’s office to report that between March 22 and April 1 her airline points were used to purchase various items, including an airline ticket. In total, three purchases were made using her points totaling 103,400 miles.

The airline gave her the names of the people who made the purchases.

The sheriff’s office ran all three names through relevant databases.

April 29, marijuana possession and potential check theft

A sheriff’s deputy observed a car speeding with potentially illegal dark tint on the front windows. Upon conducting a traffic stop a small bag of marijuana was discovered. Additionally, checkbooks which did not match the identify of any of the occupants of the car were also discovered.

May 19, drowning

Jose Daniel Venta Ciro, a 23-year-old from Sarasota, drowned May 19 while swimming near Turtle Beach.

Sarasota County Fire Department (SCFD) personnel arrived at the beach at approximately 7:30 p.m. that night following a call for two or

three distressed swimmers. The SCFD, along with the assistance of bystanders, rescued all but one of the swimmers. The SCFD suspended the search due to darkness and the dangerous conditions of the current until morning.

On May 20, the SCFD resumed its search based on the family’s account of where the subject was last scene.

That afternoon, a passing boater notified the sheriff’s office of a body in the water. The location of the body was approximately ¼ mile north of the original search area.

The remains were identified from photos of the missing swimmer. The body was turned over to the medical examiner’s office.

All Roads Lead to Made in Rome Organic Gelato on Siesta Key!

Seven days a week, for up to 14 hours a day, Diane Cuna churns out a rainbow of organic gelato flavors for her Made in Rome shop in the middle of Siesta Village.

Diane was born a third-generation circus performer in the famed Theron Family, a French bicycle act who fled Europe during World War II and performed all over the world with Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. Cuna grew up performing cycling feats and crossbow stunts with her siblings.

She retired from show business at age 40 and, inspired by her Italian husband whose family been making gelato for many generations, began channeling her creativity and gregarious energy into gelato. She opened Made in Rome on April 19, 2017. Six years later, you can still find her there, telling stories and serving up her fiery spirit in frozen form.

Cuna dedicated herself to organic, all-natural ingredients from the very beginning. For her flavors, she started in Italy. Her pistachios come straight from Bronte (Sicily), hazelnuts from Piedmont (Northern Italy). “Everything in the shop is Italian,” she said.

“I make it here from scratch,” said Cuna. I do not use artificial flavoring. People love the key lime. They love the teacher’s coffee [flavor]. I offer traditional Italian flavors and American flavors.

Among her more unusual creations, Cuna makes a popular “Red Tide” flavor: chocolate gelato with pepperoncino, sea salt, and Italian cherries. She also serves a gelato with activated charcoal for a sort of dessert detox.

Made In Rome Organic Gelato is located at 5204 Ocean Blvd, in the Siesta Key Village. Their hours are Mon.Thurs: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and 11:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. Fri. - Sun.

Jenn Eshbaugh

First, the gelato is the best I’ve ever had. It was the owner who served us. Little did she know my boyfriend has been teaching ServSafe classes for many years. He raved about how well the frozen treats were store and how well she handled the act of serving it to us. She did everything by the book. No cross contamination and very clean. The little paddle spoons are made of 100% recycled corn husks and the gelato is served with a kosher and vegan little baby sugar cone. We found this gem the first day in Siesta Key and we will DEFINITELY be back every day we’re here. So good! My one regret was I didn’t get a picture (maybe because I ate it so fast.)

18 Siesta Sand JUNE 2024 941.312.0665
Emma with our signature gelato; made in Rome (vanilla base with home made Nutella) Made In Rome Gelato owner, Dian Cuna The Sheriff’s Underwater Recovery Force (SURF) and Marine Unit searching for missing swimmer near Turtle Beach.

$20,000 had been raised.

support, and that includes the tremendous chamber staff; our president Eric Fleming; Mike Gatz, immediate past chairman of the board; as well as the chamber board of directors.

“We are happy to be open for business and look forward to welcoming everyone.”

Now that the move is behind them, the chamber staff members are at work planning the upcoming Fourth of July Siesta Key Community Fireworks. To keep the event alive, the chamber has set a fundraising goal of $50,000. The event is fully funded by support from individuals and businesses and does not receive any government funding. As of mid-May, more than

To help reach that mark, fireworks raffle tickets selling for $10 apiece are being sold at Gilligan’s Island Bar and Grill, Mojo Rising Coffee, the Village Café, and at the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce. The winner of the June 20 drawing will have the honor of starting the show by launching the fireworks display on the night of July 4th with the official plunger. The winner will also

receive one parking pass, seating for four, and food and beverages. Another Siesta Beach fireworks fundraiser is set for Sunday, June 2. Poker players are invited to get in on the action and support the Fourth of July tradition by taking part in a tournament at One-EyedJacks Poker Room, 4404 Bee Ridge Rd. It begins at 3 p.m. and will end at 8 p.m. There is a $115 buy-in and additional one-time $115 re-buys

will be available during the first two hours of the tournament. May 30 is the registration deadline. To learn more, call the chamber at (941) 349-3800.

Plans are also being made for an official open house.

The Siesta Key Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Closed Sundays. Chamber digs Continued from page 12

19 JUNE 2024 941.312.0665 27th State Media LLC

Get ready for the ultimate fireworks display

Locals and visitors alike migrate daily to Siesta Beach to watch the brilliant sunsets that grace the skies over the Gulf of Mexico. Another great spectacle to fill the evening sky of Siesta Key is the annual fireworks show presented by the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce.

On Thursday, July 4 residents and visitors can settle in on the powdery white sands for the 33rd annual Siesta Key Community Fireworks Show. It will be held at Siesta public beach, 948 Beach Rd.

The Siesta Key community fireworks is a longstanding tradition, considered one of the best in the state of Florida, and is 100% funded by generous contributions from local businesses and individuals (no corporate or government funding). The event is held in partnership with Sarasota County and is free and open to the public.

Thank you to the following sponsors!

• Altez Vacations

• Beach Bazaar

• Big Water Fish Market

• Boat Guys of Sarasota

• Brian’s Auto Repair

• Captain Curt’s

• CB’s Saltwater Outfitters

• CPR Medical Transportation

• Cunningham Property Management Corp.

• First Watch

• Foxy Lady

• Friends of Roz Hyman

• Gilligan’s Island Bar & Grill

• Gold Coast Eagle

• Gulf and Bay Club

• Horizons West Association

• La Siesta Condo Association

• Miguel’s Restaurant

• Modern Consciousness

• Palm Parking • PestMaster Services • Sandal Factory of Siesta Key • Sarasota Surf and Racquet Club • Siesta

How can you help?

The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce needs your support to reach its goal of $50,000 for the annual fireworks display. There are many ways to show your support, and all donations and sponsorships are greatly appreciated. For donation information, visit the chamber website at or call (941) 349-3800.

• Purchase a VIP Sponsorship (includes parking, seating, food/ beverages)

• Make an individual contribution online

• Donate via VENMO (use QR Code)

• Play in the poker tournament, June 2 at One-Eyed Jacks (deadline May 30)

• Purchase plunger raffle tickets. Tickets are only $10 each and currently available at Gilligan’s Island Bar & Grill, Village Café, and the Siesta Key chamber office, 5223 Avenida Navarra.

Drawing will be held June 20t and the winner will have the honor of launching the fireworks plus seating for four, one parking pass, and food and beverages.

20 Siesta Sand JUNE 2024 941.312.0665 Inspired by you. Created by us. LEED Accredited Professional Florida Licensed Building Contractor CBC 060004 Florida Licensed Real Estate Broker BK3222256 Florida Licensed Home Inspector HI4630 Concierge Custom Construction | Remodeling | Project Management 3534 South Osprey Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34239 | 941.924.1868 |
Dunes Condo Association • Siesta Harbor Association • Siesta Sand News • Smith Architects • Southwest Waste • Sun Garden Café • The Beach Club • The Inn on Siesta Key

Summertime is almost here — and for many people that means it’s time to hit the road. But even if you decide to take a vacation, you’ll want other areas of your life to keep working — especially your investments. So, how can you prevent your investments, and your overall financial strategy, from going on “vacation”? Here are a few suggestions:

Check your progress. You want your investments to be working hard for you, so you’ll need to check on their performance periodically — but be careful about how you evaluate results. Don’t compare your portfolio’s results against those of a market index, such as the S&P 500, which tracks the stock performance of 500 large U.S. companies listed on American stock exchanges. This comparison may not be particularly valid because your own portfolio ideally should include a range of investments, including U.S. and foreign stocks, corporate and government bonds, certificates of deposit (CDs) and other securities. So, instead of checking your progress against a market index, use benchmarks meaningful to your individual situation, such as whether your portfolio is showing enough growth potential based on a compounding rate of return to keep you moving toward a comfortable retirement and other long-term goals.

Invest with a purpose. When you work intensely at something, it’s usually because you have

a definite result in mind. And this sense of purpose applies to investing, too. If you buy a stock here, and another one there, based on “hot” tips you might have seen on television or the internet, you may end up with a jumbled sort of portfolio that doesn’t really reflect your needs. Instead, try to follow a long-term investment strategy based on your financial goals, risk tolerance, asset accumulation needs, liquidity and time horizon, always with an eye toward where you want to go in life — how long you plan to work, what sort of retirement lifestyle you envision, and so on.

Be strategic with your investments. Over the years, you will likely have a variety of competing financial goals — and you’ll want your investment portfolio working to help achieve all of them. That means, though, that you’ll likely need to match certain investments with specific goals. For example, when you contribute to an IRA and a 401(k) or similar plan, you’re putting away money for retirement. But if you want to help your children go to college or receive some other type of post-secondary education or training, you might want to save in a 529 education savings plan, which allows taxfree withdrawals for qualified education expenses. Or, if you want to save for a short-term goal, such as a wedding or a long vacation, you might choose an investment that offers significant protection of principal, so the money will be available when

you need it. Ultimately, this type of goals-based investing can help ensure your portfolio is always working on your behalf, in the way you intended. When you take a vacation, you will hopefully be more relaxed and refreshed. But if you let your investments stop working as hard as they should, the results could be stressful. So, be diligent about your investment strategy, monitor it regularly and make

those moves appropriate for your situation. By doing so, you can’t necessarily guarantee a long day at the beach, but you’ll have a good chance of enjoying a sunny outlook. Joe St. Onge, ChFC®

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‘must have’ or ‘nice

suburban Naperville, Illinois and made the island her home. In the place that she so loved, people of all ages came to toast the woman who made such an impact on this island. She was, according to SKOB general manager Samantha Lemmer, a friend, mentor, wife, daughter, sister, grandmother, pure force of nature, and a business and community leader.

Some donned black baseball caps with orange lettering that read “Mama Bear,” a reference to her nickname among her SKOB family. As conversations drifted through the warm summery air on the front porch and inside the restaurant, the words “Mama Bear” were often heard.

“This place was our den, and she was Mama Bear,” said former SKOB employee Amy Lou Madell. She was attending the event with her husband, Jason Madell, who also previously worked at the SKOB. It’s where they met during their 20-plus combined years of employment.

“Jill helped create a lot of relationships here,” Amy Lou Madell said. “People met, fell in love, married, and had babies. Like we did.”

As she spoke, a young woman who held her toddler’s hand walked past. “Another example,” Madell said. As the morning continued, a number of young parents with babies in strollers joined the gathering.

Reflecting on Pedigo’s strength and influence that she and her husband, Geno, had on the SKOB family, Jason Madell said: “We modeled our marriage after theirs. Our son is now a freshman (in high school) and he grew up in this place. It’s because of how family was so important to Jill is what allowed it to happen.”

Added Amy Lou, “Here, everyone is extended family.”

“Family” was a word that Lemmer also used in remembering the Siesta Key entrepreneur.

“Jill was an incredible woman whose very presence embodies

what our SKOB family is,” Lemmer said. ““She was always everyone’s coach and friend. She always drove us to be the best and have fun all at the same time. SKOB is a family because of what she created. The SKOB team truly looked up to her as an inspiration along with her infectious smile and strong leadership that will never be forgotten.”

In 2003, Jill and Geno, along with Jill’s sister Beth OwenCipielewski and her husband, Keith Cipielewski, took ownership of the bar that sits at 5238 Ocean Blvd. in Siesta Village. They made it into the place known by locals and visitors from around the world simply as “SKOB.”

As they began remodeling, Keith discovered several loose dollar bills that had been left behind. He tacked them to the wall and left them there. Soon, a new tradition was born that harkens back to days of old when fishermen would tack money to the bar as a hedge against the odds, should they return at the end of the day without a

successful catch. That tradition is now a big part of SKOB’s identity.

Throughout the years, thousands of those dollars have been donated to local and national causes, most recently the victims of Maui’s wildfires and before that the victims of Hurricane Ian. Other recipients include the Salvation Army and the Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“We’re extremely proud of that,”

Ginny Kephart, one of SKOB’s managers, said. “Customers often ask about where it all goes, and we love telling them about it. They

often say, ‘Wow! It feels good knowing it goes to a good cause.’

As we take them down, they are putting more dollars right back up.”

Pedigo is survived by her husband, Geno Pedigo, her father Jack Kraus, five children and 11 grandchildren, as well as her beloved cat Azul.

Donations in Pedigo’s memory can be made to Girls Inc. or the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee.

John Morton contributed to this report

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Jill Pedigo Continued from page 1
Left, Jill Pedigo with her husband, Geno (submitted photo). Right, Amy Lou Madell (left) and Jason Madell pose with a fun tribute photo of Jill Pedigo during a celebration of life gathering at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar. (Photo by John Morton)


a neighborhood organization, about the reaction he heard to the outlandish bid. Anderson was present at that meeting.

“There was a sigh of relief when we found out that bids were so high it couldn’t be built,” he continued.

“If you think this (roundabout) is a solution, I don’t believe it is, only because I live there and I’ve driven it and I don’t have any faith that a roundabout in that location is going to improve the situation.”

He then reminded his colleagues that an initial 2020 survey of area residents showed only 35% wanted the roundabout, while the remaining voters chose improved signalization or leaving it as-is.

Smith then called for a consensus of the board to “find another home for this money and scrap the project,” or use the money already invested to improve signalization


in the intersection. District 3 commissioner Neil Rainford and District 4 commissioner Joe Neunder, whose district also includes part of the Key south of Stickney Point Road, agreed with Smith.

Chief Deputy County Attorney Karl Senkow recommended the board vote to remove the project as a formalized motion in a regular meeting, likely in June. County

Administrator Jonathan Lewis said, since the construction of the roundabout was tied to a yearsold “road transfer agreement” between the county and FDOT, he would speak with district FDOT representatives about whether state funds for the roundabout construction could be transferred to a different project, such as improvements to South River Road (in the county’s southern

Continued from page 4

Smith, an architect, even hinted that his own designs could be used toward the creation of the project.

To date, the closest public bathroom to the Village can be found at Siesta Beach, about 1 mile

flanked by beach access parking. When the board voted in October 2023 to add it to the Sarasota County Register of Historical Places, there was some debate on whether to preserve

area). He said he would provide the board with the update on that conversation during the meeting with the official vote to scrap the roundabout project. Previously, in exchange for

“After seeing some of these numbers I’m thinking I should resign and get back into private practice and pursue county work,” Smith said, noting when he saw the figure he assumed it was for

making River Road a state road, the county assumed authority for the portion of Stickney Point Road west of the intersection with U.S. 41. The other Siesta segments to be transferred, designated State Road

an itemized budget for estimates. “These prices, they’re insane,” he said. “And I think the taxpayer has a right to know what, exactly, they are getting for $75,000.”

Carolyn Eastwood, director of

758, encompass North Midnight Pass Road, part of Higel Avenue, and part of Siesta Drive. While the county now owns it, the FDOT roundabout project was on its books and FDOT was committed to see it through completion.

A robust $417,206.95 has already been spent by the county, per the agreement, toward the project’s design phase, focusing beyond the actual roundabout on improvements that enhance signaling, signage and pedestrian/ bicyclist scenarios.

“We are thankful,” Catherine Luckner, SKA president, said regarding the decision to forgo the roundabout. “It’s a big relief and we hope for the other improvements already designed.”

Whether the money can be used elsewhere, or if some of the money can be used in part at the Siesta Key intersection in question, remains uncertain.

ultimately, what it would cost.”

Smith asked to revise the estimated cost for feasibility and design to $15,000, and Rissler said she would be happy to comply. Said Smith, “I’m in favor of

23 JUNE 2024 941.312.0665 27th State Media LLC
Continued from page 1
Support "The S and" and local journalism by subscribing today. Yes, I want to support the Siesta Sand Send this form and a check to: 27th State Media, 6547 Midnight Pass Rd., PMB 70, Sarasota, FL 34242. Thank you! Name Primary Address City State Zip Phone Email Secondary Address (if applicable) City State Zip Months to receive@secondary address Support "The Sand" and Local Journalism by Subscribing Today and Get a FREE Siesta Sand T-Shirt. 3 E A SY WAY S TO SUB SCRIB E ONL I NE AT S I E STA SA N D U S COM P LETE FO R M B E LOW C ALL 9 41 -31 2- 06 65 JANUARY 2024| 941.312.0665 ED C ww MPL NTA IN OUR SECOND SECTION Music Calendar AGE Village Map/business listings AGES V9 • Crescent Beach Map/ business listings AGE V10 •Gulf Gate Shops V13 YOUR HOME FOR THE COLLEGE BOWLS AND NFL PLAYOFFS! our ad on age 5 Page 35 Th nforma Why the world comes to Sarasota Page 10 Here y ho n command K ao Tu Thurs Entertainment Every Day aiquiri o o It’s transition time Th Da P g te nant d p sib e By Jane Bartnett P ge 1 asanothe doozyofayea Page 6 B Sh p In-Stor s rO l e NOW M RT AC OR w S im y m Benderson proposal will be the focus By John Morton STICKER GOES HERE The Siesta Sand Needs Your Support! S UB S C RI PT I O NS O N LY $ 6 0

The Highs and Lows of Properties Sold on Siesta Key





This property offers the most exquisite home on almost 4.5 acres with over 300 feet of beachfront. This home is meticulously well maintained with many recent updates to the main house including: brand new roof installed in 2023, new custom kitchen, beautifully renovated bathrooms, new engineered walnut flooring throughout, elegant marble flooring, custom wood millwork, a butler’s kitchen, LED lighting throughout, newer HVAC systems and ductwork, elevator, exterior patio railings, gated entry, Smart Home Wi-Fi enabled automation, and brand new hurricane impact window and doors installed in 2023. The guest house has a full kitchen, 2 en-suite, bedrooms, a large screened in terrace, and a large deck leading out to the boat dock.

Courtesy of Keller Williams




This home has everything one needs to live the island lifestyle, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, sitting area, separate living room and enclosed “Florida or All Season” room. The home is surrounded by original palm trees and tropical gardens. But it is the double lot that this home is situated on which adds so many options and potential. Move into this home as it is, use it as an investment property, or remove the current home and either build two homes on the two buildable lots, or build your new dream home.

Courtesy of Coldwell Banker


1035 SEASIDE DRIVE, #310’


This exquisite residence boasts 3 spacious bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and over 1,700 square feet of new modern luxury living space. The kitchen is a chef’s dream, featuring Wolf & Subzero appliances, premium cabinetry, a gas cooktop, and a convenient wine refrigerator. Unit 310 offers an array of premium features, including floorto-ceiling hurricane-resistant balcony doors, Lutron electric shades throughout, sound-limiting laminated windows with solar-tinted glass, solid-core entry and interior doors and a recirculating hot water system. You’ll also enjoy stained tongue and groove cypress ceilings on the terraces, tiled terrace floors, and a partial view of the beautiful crystal waters of The Gulf of Mexico.

Courtesy of Sarasota Real Estate Company



This delightful cottage, offered fully furnished, exudes charm and comfort, making it an ideal getaway or an excellent investment opportunity with bi-weekly rental program in place. You’ll immediately notice the oversized, diagonal tile flooring. The thoughtful layout of this residence creates a cozy and welcoming atmosphere that seamlessly connects all the living spaces. One of the highlights of this charming residence is the screened patio, where you can savor sunny views of the community and enjoy the gentle breezes.

Courtesy of Coldwell Banker

24 Siesta Sand JUNE 2024 941.312.0665
following are properties sold on Siesta Key in the last 60 days, providing a snapshot of home values on the Key for both single-family homes and condominiums. Provided by William Raveis Real Estate / C 941 544 3299 RobertRuizRR@aol com SiestaKeyNow com 6021 Midnight Pass Road | Siesta Key | FL 34242 53 Dockside Pl Scan The QR Code For More Information About Our Listings Bob & Sheri Ruiz Your Resident Siesta Key Experts We're Here For You and All of Your Real Estate Needs
selling, please contact us! We have sold or contracted for the sale of the listings below over the past two months Our inventory is low We would love to help you sell! 1251 Dockside Pl 1319 Dockside Pl 3948 Somerset Dr 5319 Cape Leyte Dr 1111 N Gulfstream Ave #10F 265 Cedar Park Cir 5243 Heron Way 9393 Midnight Pass Rd #202 Sold Sold Sold Sold Sold Sold Pending Somerset Cove | | Harbour Towne | The Pointe | Harbour Towne | Harbour Towne | The Landings | Cocoanut Bayou | One Watergate | Siesta Isles Sold Sold
If you are considering

Keeping it Real

Nestled within the 7000 block of Midnight Pass Road lies one of Siesta Key’s hidden gems and most coveted neighborhoods: the Sanderling Club.

This enclave, established in 1946, emerged on reclaimed land following a 1921 hurricane that closed the original pass from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Gulf of Mexico -- located slightly south of the area near the present-day beach cabanas -- to the Midnight Pass opening that was between Siesta Key and Casey Key. The visionary behind this development was Eldridge S. Boyd, affectionately known as the “mayor of Siesta Key,” who also spearheaded projects such as Hidden Harbor, the Turtle Beach Cabana Club, Cedar Park Circle, and Coconut Bayou.

Boyd’s aim was to craft a gulf-side community south of Point of Rocks, all while prioritizing ecological preservation and visual harmony.

To this day, the neighborhood preserves its trees and natural tropical landscape, even amidst the construction of new homes and the demolition of old ones. As you drive through the 24-hour guarded gate, you’re transported to a bygone era, evoking a sense of simplicity reminiscent of when visitors flocked to Siesta Key to escape the harsh northern winters.

Today, the Sanderling Club comprises 110 homes, situated within and just beyond its gated confines. Inside the gates, along Sanderling

Road residences line a scenic 2-mile stretch of Gulf of Mexico shoreline with additional homes gracing Pine Needle Road, Turnstone Road, Plovers Way and Melaleuca Way. Members of the club also include those residing on North and South Basin Lanes, positioned on the eastern side of Midnight Pass, providing direct access to the Intracoastal Waterway. Additional member residences include 10 properties on Midnight Pass Road.

The neighborhood was meticulously planned to serve as an all-inclusive club for its exclusive membership. This tradition continues today, requiring an initiation fee upon closing (currently $38,000) and that you undergo a screening process. According to the Sarasota County History Center, Boyd initially envisioned an inn on the property but this plan was abandoned due to challenges in finding design and staffing solutions. However, in 1952, the renowned architect Paul Rudolph was enlisted to design the clubhouse and cabanas, which now hold a place on the National Historic Registry. Additionally, the neighborhood features a boat basin on North Basin Lane, offering leased boat slips for homeowners as well as vibrant tennis and pickleball courts.

While numerous tales recount the rich history of the Sanderling Club, my focus was on delving into the lifestyle enjoyed by its residents. I had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Jessica Townsend Teague, whose family has owned property in the Sanderling Club since 1976. Jessica’s

connection to Sarasota traces back to her childhood in the 1950s when her grandparents would winter at the Sand Castle resort on Lido Key.

Captivated by the area, Jessica’s parents, upon her grandfather’s passing, decided to make the Sanderling Club their home, purchasing their first property at 7309 Pine Needle.

Recollecting those early days, Jessica describes their home as a “one-story, genuine, rectangular mid-century modern abode, with pecky cypress interior walls, jalousie windows, wide sliders, and a guest house accessed via a screened-in courtyard adjacent to the pool.”

The Townsend home serves as a quintessential representation of the original residences within the Sanderling Club. During her family’s initial purchase, Jessica recalls the neighborhood’s homes, predominantly consisting of the original structures built from the late 1940s to the early 1960s, showcasing distinctive mid-century design elements, with many featuring guest homes. Rapidly integrating into the community, Jessica’s parents forged enduring friendships, some of which endure to this day, with a few individuals remaining in the neighborhood or participating as associate members. For Jessica and her family, the most cherished aspect of their club membership has always been the strong sense of community fostered within the Sanderling Club.

Throughout the years, my colleague Judie Berger and I have facilitated the sale of numerous homes within the community. Prior

to my interview, I had often heard about the Sanderling Club being renowned for its friendly atmosphere and bustling social scene, and this was indeed confirmed during our conversation.

Jessica fondly reminisces about her parents’ habit of hosting week-long gatherings for groups of friends during her young adulthood. These gatherings were meticulously organized affairs, with each day’s activities outlined and responsibilities delegated among the guests, including arrangements for dining at either Miguel’s or Ophelia’s. Attending one of the Sanderling Club’s six or seven neighborhood gatherings held each year during the season was always a highlight for visitors.

Jessie recalled her mother would always let her know if she was visiting during one of the social events, as full battle dress was required, which included suits and ties for both adults and children. The same attire was required for any of the many parties that were also very well attended.

Jessie had many stories about the many social clubs that sprung up over the years. She remembers

fondly the “Fisherman’s Club,” of which her father was a member. This was exclusively for men and she said the wives would happily pack them a sack lunch and send them out for the day. This club would host the Fisherman’s Wives Ball every year at the clubhouse. She said to this day, there is a women’s social group that stays in contact to discuss pretty much anything and everything. There is a very active tennis/pickleball club and they still have parties during season at the clubhouse.

One of the most heartwarming tales from Jessie’s time in the Sanderling Club revolves around a small yet significant addition to her home: a red bench she placed at the end of her driveway on 7435 Sanderling Rd. Originally her parents’ second house in the neighborhood, it’s now Jessie’s cherished home.

About 10 years ago, she noticed that many of her mother’s friends, who were at this time in their 80s and 90s, were still walking the neighborhood. One afternoon, while getting the mail, she stumbled upon a letter tied with a ribbon. Written by

25 JUNE 2024 941.312.0665 27th State Media LLC
Leave it to the traditions at Sanderling to make a simple red bench something special  SOLD Sotheby’s International Realty® and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity. Natalie Gutwein, REALTOR ® Buyers’ Agent Judie Berger, P.A., REALTOR ® 941.928.3424 7247 TURNSTONE RD | $2.85M 7435 SANDERLING RD | $2.8M 4644 HIGEL AVE | $1.85M 3200 HIGEL AVE | $3.65M SIESTA KEY’S TOP SELLING REALTOR ® SINCE 2005 No.1 1280 HIDDEN HARBOR WAY | $7M 3722 FLAMINGO AVE | $6.65M 778 SIESTA DR | $6M 3731 INDIAN BEACH PL | $6M 4034 ROBERTS POINT RD | $5.6M 1035 SEASIDE DR, #501 | $5.1M 521 CASEY KEY RD | $5M 832 FREELING DR | $4.8M 8415 MIDNIGHT PASS RD | $4.775M 3650 FLAMINGO AVE | $4.5M 854 N CASEY KEY RD | $4.35M 5315 HIDDEN HARBOR RD | $4.15M 1035 SEASIDE DR | $3.95M 326 ISLAND CIR | $3.9M 3423 LA PALOMA AVE | $3.55M 5322 SIESTA COVE DR | $3.5M 7340 PINE NEEDLE RD | $3.5M 7323 PINE NEEDLE RD | $3.375M 642 WATERSIDE WAY | $3.2M WHO YOU WORK WITH MATTERS PENDING 7345 PINE NEEDLE RD | $2.4M 319 OGDEN ST | $1.725M Ranked in the Top 1.5% of Realtors ® in the USA Over $175 Million Sold In 2022-2023 Over $58 Million Pending & Sold In 2024 PENDING PENDING
Continued on page 26
Jessica Townsend Teague relaxes on the cherished red bench. (photo by Natalie Gutwein)


FL 34242 4 bd • 4 ba • 2,854 sq Pending Sale

Martha Luger, a longtime resident whose family has owned a home at 8410 Sanderling Rd. possibly since the early 1950s, the letter contained a poem titled “Ode to the Red Bench.”

In it, she describes the utility of the bench and her love for the gesture Jessie had made. Not only did it give passersby a place to rest on their walks, but also a place to sit and reflect. She headed to West Marine, grabbed a waterproof case, and filled it with paper and pens, inviting people to jot down their thoughts, whether it was a profound reflection or just a simple grocery list.

Currently in the Sanderling Club, there are six active listings, two pending (two of the actives and one pending are listed by our team), and three that have sold in the last six months. The prices range from the sale of Jessie‘s parents’ first house at $1.9 million to an active listing at $21 million.

Many of the original homes have been greatly expanded and updated or torn down and replaced with new homes.

The Sanderling Club stands as a timeless testament to coastal living

at its finest. With its rich history dating back to its establishment in 1946, this cherished enclave continues to captivate residents and visitors alike. Its commitment to ecological preservation and visual harmony, paired with a strong sense of community fostered among its members, sets it apart as a truly unique destination.

From its scenic Gulf of Mexico shoreline residences to its vibrant social scene, the Sanderling Club offers a glimpse into a lifestyle characterized by relaxation, camaraderie, and cherished memories.

As one delves deeper into the stories shared by its residents, such as the heartwarming tale of Jessie Townsend Teague and her red bench, it becomes evident that the Sanderling Club is not just a neighborhood, but a place where lifelong connections are forged and treasured moments abound.

(Natalie Gutwein is a licensed Realtor with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty’s Judie Berger Team and a member of the board of directors of the Siesta Key Association.)

26 Siesta Sand JUNE 2024 941.312.0665
Residential 238 ISLAND CIR
Sanderling Continued from page 25
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