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President's Letter to Our Members
Posted on Mar 29th, 2019

Your Manasota Key Association has been busy continuing the organization’s fine tradition of protecting and preserving our beloved stretch of the island. The board continues to meet monthly during season and as needed the rest of the year to keep operations efficient and tend issues that impact our quality of life. Those of you who took the time to complete our survey in January validated that our efforts are focused on the things you also think are important. Our organization continues to strive to represent the best interests of our 230+ household members. For those who could not attend the meeting, an updated recap of our efforts can be found on the MKA website. I want to thank our Board of Directors for all their efforts to keep the Association a strong, effective organization. I’d also like to remind you that we like to have fun. Hope to see you at the Picnic on April 6th!
 
For a quick glance, the top issues you identified are: 1) red tide 2) erosion 3) beach nourishment 4) crime 5) sewers 6) iguanas and 7) road conditions. Be assured we are working on all seven issues. If you want to know specifically what we are doing, keep reading.
 
Red tide topped respondents’ list of issues in our recent survey. We share that concern. The Barrier Island League, a group of representatives from Siesta, Casey, Manasota Keys and Palm Island reconvened in late September to discuss regional solutions and is ongoing. We attended Charlotte County’s Water Quality Summit on January 29 and heard legislators and scientists share their perspectives. Sarasota County very recently endorsed a similar event, likely to be held yet this spring. We will keep you updated as information on this event becomes available. We were fortunate to have Jon Thaxton discuss red tide at our Annual Meeting. This naturally occurring algae is getting plenty of attention and funding to understand it and hopefully control it. You have a role by minimizing fertilizers to control the nitrogen that gets into our waters, choosing native plants in your landscaping and properly maintaining your septic systems.
 
Beach erosion and beach nourishment are closely linked issues and they were your next greatest concerns. Typical of the natural pattern on barrier islands, our beaches are both accreting and eroding but overall, the island is considered critically eroded. The position the Association has taken is that we respect and understand the county’s dim view of hardening. At the same time, we have also defended the right of homeowners to protect their home. The erosion committee’s efforts along with a cohesive homeowners’ group worked with county staff to improve the process of applying for emergency variances and the length of approval for large sand bags permitting to three years. County Commissioner Charles Hines responded promptly to our request to discuss how to help our homeowners in need last November. He walked the beach with us for a first-hand view. We had multiple meetings with county staff and attended Commissioners’ meetings. We feel fortunate to partner with a responsive local government even though progress is sometimes slow and workable solutions are elusive.
 
Beach nourishment is slated to begin in Charlotte County this coming November. You may recall that Sarasota County surveyed our residents nearly two years ago about nourishment interest. Results were split. A second survey targeted the Gulf front owners only up to the 7200s to encompass Blind Pass Park where Irma washed out the road and the area of our two critically eroded homes. Interest among this subset was stronger. This led the Commissioners to underwrite an extension to Charlotte County’s shoreline assessment to give us better information on scope and cost of any proposed work. Due to the hard bottom that was documented north of Middle Beach, the initial project costs were prohibitive to extend a nourishment project that far. This led to further study to explore the possibility of trucking in sand for a portion of the project to avoid mitigation costs (It also led to more delays). Michael Poff, the Coastal Engineer presented his findings at the Joint Charlotte and Sarasota Commissioners Meeting on Feb 28.
 
Please re-read the email from MKA on March 6 outlining those findings. ( also found in the Documents Section on this website) The email contains links to informational videos of the county’s community sessions about beach nourishment sponsored two years ago. If you haven’t watched them, please make time to do so. We are awaiting an updated FAQ sheet from Sarasota County that answers many questions and will make it available to you ASAP.
 
Given the tight timeframe until Charlotte County’s project begins and the cost sharing opportunities, there’s reason for not delaying a decision whether or not to go forward jointly. The next step, should they go forward, would involve securing funding sources. We recognize beach nourishment is a complicated, emotional topic that does not have the full support of residents here that Siesta Key had when it was initiated there. The next important meeting is April 9 when beach nourishment is scheduled to be on the County Commissioners Agenda @ 4000 S Tamiami Trail in Venice.
  
Crime was your #4 concern.  We are fortunate that crime is not a serious issue in terms of numbers committed here on Manasota Key. However, disturbing late summer incidents including squatters and other reports of suspicious persons heightened our awareness that we must all be diligent about individually securing our properties. TRVST continues to offer regular varied patrol and surveillance presence that is paid for with your voluntary contributions to the security fund. We send out alerts when what is happening is more than an isolated event and we have verified the information that you share with us AFTER you first call the Sheriff’s office.
 
Sewers were your # 5 concern. This item created a bit of confusion about what we meant. Specifically, the concern relates back to Harold Morrison’s efforts to not convert to sewers that also help us minimize growth and population density. The Englewood Water District recently assured us there are currently no plans to extend sewers on the Key. However, we anticipate more push for septic inspections.
 
Iguanas were your Number 6 concern. Over 200 iguanas mostly from Blind Pass Park were successfully relocated from Manasota Key last year. Please remember the county cannot trap on private property but will retrieve ones you capture. MKA purchased traps that can be borrowed as a dozen of you have already done. Our iguana committee are willing to provide directions to increase your success. Also, our local Babe’s hardware store is offering a10% discount on Havahart small and medium traps if you’re interested in purchasing your own traps. In order to get the discount you must see Billy the owner or one of his managers, Dave or Greg and mention MKA. This discount beats the price on Amazon Prime. Their supply maybe limited so contact our committee at MKAtraps@gmail.com for details. We are especially seeking willing helpers who are here in the summer when iguanas are most active to join the team. If trapping is not in your DNA, a current list of private trappers is available on our website. 
Road conditions was your # 7 concern. Two members have volunteered to serve on a task force and work with county officials to address the concern about the road’s integrity especially at Blind Pass Park where Irma washed out the road and it is once again at risk of compromise. This group will meet in April to begin the lengthy process of problem solving this ongoing concern.
 
 
Jackie Ruthman