County considers paddle board rentals at Siesta Beach

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SIESTA KEY, Fla. - Sarasota County commissioners are considering adding paddle board rentals as an amenity at Siesta Beach.

Stand-up paddle boarding is growing in popularity on the Suncoast. Participants say it is a great way to enjoy nature while getting exercise.

"It is basically like riding bicycles, but you are on the water," said Rob Alfieri.

But should you be able to rent paddle boards at Siesta Beach like you can rent umbrellas or beach chairs?

Alfieri, who owns a paddle board company, says yes.  "A year a half ago we met with county staff and chatted with them and we said how to we go about offering standup paddle boards in a safe and responsible manner on Siesta Key Beach, the number one beach in the country."

On Wednesday, Alfieri addressed Sarasota County Commissioners during the public comment section of meeting before the commissioners discussed the possibility of allowing paddle board rentals at Siesta Beach. Commissioners also heard from Sarasota County Life Guard Manager Scott Montgomery, who recommended that no paddle board activity be allowed inside the designated swim area at Siesta Beach.

The swim area runs the entire length of the beach and is marked by buoys in the water.

"We are looking at creating an area to the side of the swim area were folks could actually do paddle boarding," Montgomery told ABC 7.

He says anyone can launch and use paddle boards at any public beach with out lifeguards, but if the beach has a designated swim zone boats of any type are banned.

"It is everybody's beach and we understand that standup paddle boarding is becoming very, very popular so we want to make it work for everybody, but on the same token we want to make sure the swimmers in the swim zone are safe."

The county commissions primary concern is public safety. A couple of commissioners believe paddle boarding would be a good amenity at Siesta Beach but they did not make a decision on Wednesday because they want time to gather additional information.