Sarasota News Leader

11/09/2012

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Sarasota News Leader November 9, 2012 Siesta Seen Jonker was referring to the tragic death of runner Donna Chen in that curve in early January, when she was struck by an allegedly drunken driver. Jonker noted that the curve particularly has been a source of consternation for residents of Siesta Isles, who exit their neighborhood just past it. The two streets they use are Shad- ow Lawn Way and Glebe Lane, he added. With the Florida Department of Transporta- tion this spring having turned down commu- nity residents' — and the SKA's — requests to lower the speed limit along that curve, the president of the Siesta Isles homeowners as- sociation "took the bull by the horn," Jonker said, and began working on improving the line of sight for residents as they prepare to pull out onto Midnight Pass Road. The president, Tony Romanus, told me this week he continues to be frustrated by the sit- uation with the varied speed limits along that portion of Midnight Pass Road. In the area near St. Boniface Episcopal Church — west of the curve — the speed limit is 35 mph, but it goes up to 40 mph before the curve. If you want to turn left onto Midnight Pass Road from Shadow Lawn, Romanus said, "You've got to make a commitment to move pretty fast." Although FDOT refused to lower the speed limit to 35 mph all along that stretch, he said, he received a call from a traffic engineer soon after he sent his letter to the department in April, requesting the change. "We talked a few times," he said. Then, they met at the intersection of Shadow Lawn and Midnight Pass Road. He had suspected the line-of-sight issue was worse on Shadow Lawn than on Glebe, Roma- nus said, but the opposite was true, "because of the proximity to the curve." A fence in front of a home at that intersec- tion contributed to the problems for drivers, he added. Ultimately, Romanus worked with FDOT, Sarasota County officials, representatives of Florida Power & Light, the priest and his staff at St. Michael's and homeowners to amelio- rate the situation. Three homeowners agreed to move their fenc- es — with the Siesta Isles HOA picking up the cost. Two of those residents were on opposite sides of Shadow Lawn, while the third was on Glebe. The fences were repositioned the sec- ond week of October, Romanus noted. Msgr. Joseph Stearns, the pastor of St. Mi- chael's, and his staff agreed to help out by permitting the removal of five palm trees in the FDOT right of way by the church. They were "very, very helpful," Romanus added of Stearns and Stearns' assistant. Some brush also had to be cleared, Romanus said. Additionally, FPL agreed to cut back trees that were close to its power lines along the curve. Page 92

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