Sarasota County residents vote on access tax

NOKOMIS, Fla. – Another marina in Southwest Florida was lost yesterday as demolition of the Dona Bay Marina began as part of a project to build 18 million-dollar condominiums, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported in a story today.

But voters in Sarasota County, the marina’s former home, will go to the polls today to decide whether to tax themselves to buy waterfront property.

In Sarasota County, 16 marinas that offer boat dockage to the general public remain. Two decades ago there were at least twice that many, the newspaper reported.

Ed Freeman of The Nature Conservancy, told the Herald Tribune that at least four marinas have been lost in the past couple of years. Nearly all that remain are under pressure to sell to developers, and at least two are being converted into high-priced boat storage areas called “rackaminiums.”

Waterfront restaurants are also disappearing at a rate fast enough to alarm county officials, who earlier this year started talking about the need to preserve waterfront access. In July, the County Commission agreed to buy 11 acres of waterfront property for $16 million, the newspaper reported.

Voters in Sarasota County will have the option of both extending a program that uses tax money to buy and preserve environmentally sensitive land and starting a new program that would acquire waterfront property such as marinas and restaurants to keep them from going condo.

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