Relief from Siesta Key’s Parking Woes Coming


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, July 1st, 2014 – Residents and visitors of Siesta Key can expect some relief from parking problems in the barrier island particularly in areas near its beaches which are year-round magnets for both local and foreign tourists.

This issue on parking again cropped up this January when the Sarasota County Commission banned parking on certain parts of Avenida de Mayo at Siesta Key Village. Some stretches along this road, a main thoroughfare for the Sarasota Beach subdivision, had served as a popular option for overflow parking of beach-bound visitors and patrons of the shops and restaurants in the village.

Raising safety concerns, local residents lobbied for and got the ban. The county commission’s move also included implementing nearby no-parking zones at 500-foot intervals from Avenida de Cortez to Avenida del Norte.

SCAT trolley service set

Business owners in the locality unhappy with the commissioner’s move and its possible adverse effects on their business, however, can draw some comfort from another county decision. Government authorities have decided to proceed with plans for the Sarasota County Area Transport (SCAT) to operate a Siesta Key trolley route instead of moving forward with a proposed similar public transport service for University Parkway.

The prioritization of Siesta Key came following county approval of a $3.4 million funding for the purchase of new SCAT vehicles. Approximately half of the amount will come from a Florida Department of Transportation grant.

Boon for condo properties

El Presidente

SCAT will use its regular buses for the Siesta route but these will be adorned with decals so that the vehicles will resemble trolleys. According to county records, two new vehicles and about nine bus operators would be required to operate the Siesta Key service which will run all days of the week.

The buses will ferry riders from the Westfield Southgate Mall to Siesta Village and Turtle Beach, with trips running at 30-minute and one-hour intervals. Condos such as El Presidente and Turtle Bay along Midnight Pass Road are among those likely to benefit from this new route.

Expanded Siesta Beach parking

The ongoing two-year rehabilitation of Siesta Beach is also geared to address woes on parking around its locality. This makeover is supposed to provide 143 additional parking slots when it is completed. Budgeted for $21.5 million, the improvements on the beach also call for modernizing its restrooms, adding a new tennis court, restoration of its historic pavilion, construction of a pedestrian esplanade, and upgrading of concession areas.

This beach upgrading and the Siesta Key SCAT trolley route complement well with Sarasota’s hosting of several major international sports competitions in the next few years. Influx of more visitors can be expected, for example, when Nathan Benderson Park holds the World Rowing Championship in 2017. This year, Benderson Park will already host the first of four international pentathlon events lined up to be held in Sarasota.

Then, there are national competitions which have found a home in Siesta Key itself. In the past few years, for instance, the barrier island has been hosting the NCAA sand volleyball tournament. Considered as the largest sand sports meet for US NCAA schools, this year’s event is set in April and has drawn 32 competing teams.