'Save Siesta Key' explores incorporation to have a louder local voice

The dredging of Big Pass, a development planned at Stickney Point and U.S. 41, and a roundabout have left some Siesta Key residents exploring incorporation.

"We feel like we've lost the battle," said Tracy Jackson, who has lived on Siesta Key for seven years and is also a board member with Save Siesta Key. "We have the support because of all the battles we feel like we've lost."

With four large-scale hotels on the county planning commission's table, Tracy says residents feel left out. The group is exploring the possibility of breaking away from Sarasota County and becoming incorporated.

"It feels like a replay. Oh gosh. Here we go again," she said. "We are trying to provide a long-term solution where we can be hard and our voices can mean something."

They're working to raise $125,000; $75,000 will go toward a feasibility study. The rest will go to legal and operating expenses.

Save Siesta Key is also working to write its own charter.

This isn't the first time residents have brought up incorporation. They did once in the 60s and then again in the 90s.

"In the 90s, out of that incorporation came the overlay district plan for the land use of Siesta Key. The irony in it is the hotels that are trying to propose the variances and exceptions are outside the scope of that overlay plan," she said.

Their goal is to create a government-light model.

"We want to be the best neighbors to Sarasota County. That’s really our goal. We are working to stay very transparent," said Tracy.

RELATED: Battle over the beach: Siesta Key residents block public access, citing 2018 law

Senator Joe Gruters said he favors a move toward a more metro government, but he will listen to all residents.

"My feelings are going to be based on what the survey says and we will see what the overall community thinks," he said.

Tracy says Siesta Key is the largest barrier island in the state that's not incorporated. Incorporating will allow residents to make their own decisions.

The first decision may be whether to incorporate at all.  

"Let's get the information and then decide as a community what’s right for us," she added.

Save Siesta Key will hold its next public meeting on May 19 at 7 p.m.  at Siesta Key Chapel, at 4615 Gleason Ave, Sarasota, FL.

LINK: For more information or to take Save Siesta Key's survey visit https://www.savesiestakey.org/.