The following is a brief history of Sarasota Lakes. We dedicate this material to the various board members and volunteers who have served over the years. The accuracy is due to our contributors who furnished items that enabled us to put together what we think are some interesting facts, developments and improvements. We also dedicate our errors to our enemies, which we hope are few. 

SL is the result of Dolomite Mining. Dolomite is used for road building because of its calcium limestone content. The mining carried on for years and included blasting, which was discontinued when residue found its way to the dog, track parking lot causing damage. Subsequently, the mining stopped and the lakes formed and our name was born. The lakes go as deep as 65 feet. Do they contain any fish? How about a 22 and a 12 LB. bass?

What we believe was our "modern beginning" was when WW II came into focus and there was mention of a small trailer park and campground close to the Air Force Training Base located at what is now Sarasota-Bradenton Airport. It began in 1971 as a "Holiday Inn Trav-L-Park", located in Sarasota County, Florida. A certificate of occupancy was issued in 1972 by the county. The park consisted of 21 acres with 157 units, which were approximately 1,800 square feet each, plus six original structures. The first plat was built in 1972 and was 48 feet by 50 feet with a front porch 6 feet by 49 feet. This was expanded and remodeled later. It was frame on a concrete slab with a plywood exterior. This was called the "reception, recreation and administration lodge" and was platted to be located on the street with no parkway in front. A future addition was to be connected on the left (west)) but set back several feet. Also proposed was a 10 foot diameter by 1 '6" deep wading pool and a 27 foot by 52 foot 64,500 gallon swimming pool with a concrete patio walk around the entire area with a diving board. The pools were platted partially behind the office building.

In 1972, the main building, pools and playground were built but in their present location. The playground equipment is original except for the basketball standard and net. This was located in the divided parkway at the Desoto Road exit. It was then moved to the manager's blacktop pad by the dump station and finally found its way to the playground area after a concrete court was poured in 1995. The pool area was enclosed by a wooden fence painted first Holiday green and later the KOA brown to match the clubhouse. There were 13 parking spaces planned for the front of the office plus 9 facing Desoto Road. We ended up with 9 and 11 with a walk through to the office and also a small rest area. The only entrance to our park was off Desoto Road, then known as State Highway 778. When you turned in you were greeted by a divided parkway called Sunshine Boulevard that went as far as the office. The road that goes left at the office to the boat ramp was named Dolphin Drive. The road to the right past the laundry to the corner and left to lot 157 where it ended was called Flamingo Drive. It is called Sarasota Lakes Boulevard now.

Our original office and rec building contained the rental check-in, lot assignments, mail distribution, convenience gift store and grocery items including food staples, beer, and ice. These were available in the 70's and early 80's and the store was open from 7 AM to 11 PM daily. The building had a library and hall facilities with access gained through a small door on the left of the manager's office. This contained a TV area, library, lounge, bingo room and kitchen. The building ended where the bearing wall drops down. Also, under the office building roof was a separate game room with vending and game machines plus pool tables. There was a door off  the pool deck to gain entry. Pool hours and game room hours were also 7 AM to 11 PM. The door is still there on the outside but is locked and paneled over on the inside and is no longer assessable. It is located between the windows of the men's rest room and the manager's office window. Our manager occupies the old game room area. The small window that looks into the manager's office from behind the office counter served as a money change window for the game room. This was to cut down on the adolescent traffic in the office area. There was a specific animal walking area that was in what is now Phase II between lots 181-195.

There have been several major improvements to this building. In 1980 an open pole type shelter with roof was built behind the permanent Rec Hall. Access was through a door in the rear or from the outside. In the fall of 1985, the pole building had windows and siding installed. It was converted at the bearing wall to make a permanent, longer rec room.  A side door to the pool and rest rooms was added along with a sliding patio door at the rear for a fire exit. With these changes our main building grew to 3,530 square feet.

In early 1995, a major proposal was considered. It consisted of building a concrete block addition on the west side of our hall involving an expenditure of thousands. Cooler heads prevailed and starting in October 1995, our entire building was renovated for a fraction of the cost. The office, coffee room, rec and kitchen area were completely gutted. A new kitchen, rec room, floors, walls and ceiling resulted. The capacity was increased by50 raising the total to 175 with 2,400 square feet. Also included were new lighting fixtures inside and out, with a new library, entrance to the hall, service counter, carpeting and decorations throughout. This was completed in January 1996.

We want to complete discussing the three major changes that took place in 1980, 1985 and 1995 to our rec hall. We'll back up and list other improvements. This deals with the handling of mail. In November 1985 combination lock boxes were installed inside the office along the wall that now leads to our hall entrance. These boxes were moved again in November 1995 to the outside in front of the building when a new key system was put into effect. The mail chute was removed at this time and a Post Office box was installed in the parking lot. These two improvements eliminated the ancient method of handing out mail from behind the desk, which was how it was done from the beginning. The latter move also made it convenient for park occupants to mail and pick up mail after hours.

These were the six original structures.  Number 1 was the office-rec building discussed above. Number 2 was the laundry and beauty salon building. This is 22' by 54' plus a 3' by 12' addition in the rear. The salon occupies 16' to the west. The building is 1,188 square feet constructed of concrete block on a slab with a plywood exterior. There are 16 washer hookups and 16 commercial dryers with a 220 gallon hot water heater. The laundry was open 24 hours for years but is now open from 7 AM to 10 PM due to vandalism. Filtered water was available for purchase several different times over the years but the machines were removed due to lack of sales. Numbers 3 and 4 (were called A & B) are comfort stations in Phase I. Both are 20' by 33', 660 square feet concrete block on a slab with plywood exterior. “A” was closed in 1992 and the men's side turned into storage and the lady's into a woodworking shop. Number 5 was the maintenance and paint shed. This was located southeast of the laundry building and was razed in 1981. Number 6 was a metal tool and equipment storage shed. The razed number 5 building and number 6 were combined and located in the pole building and storage area off tangerine lane in the circle in Phase I. These lots were originally platted and assigned different numbers and were renumbered in the 1970's. Back in the early days, one could drive and park in any direction as there were very few restrictions. Now most of our streets are one-way. The area we are talking about is Phase I but was called sections A and B. “A” was for lots 1 - 109 and “B” 110-157. The circle lots 15 - 21, were in Pineapple circle. A ten lot expansion was planned on the south side of Pelican Lane across from lots 110 - 119 in the early 70's, but never materialized, probably due to density.

Back in the Holiday era, campers and their guests could bring boats, gas motors were allowed but then outlawed and electric only motors allowed. Floating devices were also allowed onto the lakes that were named Southwind, Northwind and Rainbow. These lakes were and are owned by the airport authority but privileges were abused by people who feed the animals and the lakes became off limits. There were seven private docks even though the park was still only renting. The park rented paddle boats and canoes at the boat ramp. That was named "Charlie Chipmunk Boat Dock". There was a small island just off the ramp (it is still there today) and a bridge was built and a picnic table placed there. There were and still are alligators in the lakes. In 1984, a fence was installed and as mentioned the fishing and boating ended.

In the late 70's, each street was identified by a 3' marker in the form of a Chipmunk. All the lots could be occupied by only one family with one motor home or trailer. When a renter checked in they were escorted to their site by a golf cart. I f an occupant stayed for more than three months, the fourth was free. Air conditioning cost $2.00 a day extra. Neighborhood groups held community cookouts, bonfires and picnics. Many of the occupants would come back year after year and rent the same lots. Free coffee and donuts were served to the renters on Saturday and Sunday.

At this point we will spin off and cover two parks together at two different periods: Holiday and KOA. Holiday sold to "KOA of Sarasota" and they operated until 1980 when it was sold again. It was expanded and renamed "Sarasota Lakes Camping Resort". There were operational similarities with Holiday and KOA. During this period tent camping was allowed in the area behind the office rec hall. This is the present site of the horseshoe pits. The water hookups are still there. After heavy rains the area flooded until a swale was dug in 1998. This runs to a culvert across fro, lot 125 and under the road into the lakes. The dirt was spread in the low spots. There is one odd lot marked 140A where Grouper and Snapper meet and deluxe camping overflow was allowed. This lot contains an electrical pedestal, water hookup and yard light. They also camped in the large open area near where the tennis courts are today near Sarasota Lakes Boulevard.

There were several 1-75 construction workers living in tents and pop-ups. One had a family who had two children and the mother helped out by cleaning the rest rooms. This area encompasses 5.7 acres of our park. Even back then, phones could be installed for a fee.

Trash was handled in a rather unique way. Plastic bags were provided and it was picked up daily by truck after 10 AM at your lot. Then something else was tried. Two dumpsters were placed on what is now lot 158 for renters to use. This didn't work and the dumpster container was put on a flatbed to pick up at lots and returned to lot 158 for the disposal company to remove. This worked until Phase II and III were completed when 420 lots became too much to handle. Two sites were built, one next to the propane tanks for phase I and the other across from lots 337-338 for phases II and III. The most recent move was in March '98 to the present site outside our Desoto Road gate with a new walk and enclosure. A security light was added in April '98.

At one time our original and only address and entrance was1699 Desoto Road, 33580. There wasn't any gate and when entering you were greeted by an attractive, two lane, tree lined, divided parkway that led to the office. This was changed but more about that later. Back outside our entrance, coming in, was the Tri-Par Tire and Auto Center on your left. This was a Texaco service and repair business. Recently a charter bus company occupied the site but the company moved in 1996 and left the site in poor shape. The present owner opened a courier and moving company in July '98 and upgraded the property considerably. Unfortunately they have moved, making the future of the site uncertain.

Inside the entrance on the left is a long blacktop pad next to the dump station. The pad housed several different park managers and their families in a 40' trailer furnished by our park. The unit was removed in 1990 and sold. Also noteworthy is a gutter on your left that runs from Desoto Road all the way to what was the boat ramp. Also noteworthy is a gutter on your right that ran from Desoto Road to the corner lot (333) around the corner past the laundry to 336 where it ends. During the KOA era, whenever there was a gutter, the roads were black-topped which included the parking lot and the road past the office. The gutter running from the entrance to the corner (333) was removed (see rubble at entrance). We will talk more about this later. Where the gutter ends at lot 336, the blacktop ended and the road became narrower on the left where a shale road took over. This ran to the corner, ended and turned left on Sarasota Lakes Boulevard to what is now lot 165. This, the lakes and Desoto Road were the early perimeters of our park. Phase I originally had all dirt roads, no pads or patios, and campers parked on the grass and by the side of the road. Shale roads replaced the dirt and then all were blacktopped after the park was purchased by the Sarasota Lakes developer. After Phases II and III were completed, blacktopping was continued and the roads were now complete.

We should again back up to the time when the KOA and surrounding area was sold to Thomas Holliman, the chief operating officer of Seago Group, Inc. of North Fort Myers, Florida in 1980. Sarasota Lakes was officially born. Prior to the sale the county had made it know they were not in favor of any expansion. However, the county relented and said this was to be the last RV development in the county. Lots in Phase I (II and III were not started) were put up for sale in 1980. Three lots, 110, 126, and 127 were set up as models with a pad, patio, electric etc... but no units on the lots. Some of the rental occupants bought the lot they were on. The sales were handled by Resort Real Estate, Inc. and operated by brothers Bob and Steve Lord, with their salesman and office girl. They worked out of a building located next to the laundry - beauty shop building. Before the sales began this area was used as storage for trailer units. The office was sold after sales were completed and moved to lot 298 where it is today after numerous improvements. With Phase I sales well underway, development started on the vacant land in II and III. It was originally planned to encompass all available lots into only one additional phase in the 25 new acres consisting of a total of 272 more units for an overall total of 429. This was reduced to 425 and finally to 420 units. This included the 157 sites that were already in Phase I. However, it was decided to scale this back and build two more phases. II would be 142 units and III 121 units for a final park total of 420. With this, Sarasota Lakes grew to a grand total of 46 acres.

Sales in II started in 1982. Each lot was to contain approximately 2,500 square feet. The sales promotion used a floodlight and frequent local TV and newspaper advertising.. The only way for a potential buyer to reach the lot site was by gold cart over a dolomite shale dumping ground, resulting from the mining operation of the lakes at one time. This area contained old cars, appliances, and so on which were buried when the development started. You may be sleeping over an old Studebaker, Hudson or Shelvador.

Lots were selling from $9,000 to $12,000. A $500 reduction was allowed on each sale if the purchaser agreed to spend $500 on landscaping. The developer was then able to see lots for $8,500 to $11,500 without any beautifying expense. Each package included an 8' by 15' concrete patio which could be increased in size at an additional cost. After a lot was purchased and closed, the owner was issued a one share stock certificate in the co-op which was the proof of ownership. The purchaser also received a copy of the proprietary lease (leasehold interest) for the campsite. Prior to Sarasota Lakes becoming a co-op, we were called a "cooperative campground" or Sarasota Lakes Camping Resort'.

Phase II was slow in developing as the state and county were strictly enforcing codes, especially on RV parks. On sales that were completed in April 1982, the actual work did not begin until November and were not completed until April 1983. The certificates of occupancy weren't received from the county until June. When Phase II was built the pond at the rear corner between lots 282 and 283 near the Sarasota Herald-Tribune building was put there for a reason. There is a ditch that runs from lot 327 (Desoto Gate Entrance) east to lot 314, then north to the pond. From there it goes west to the main gate and behind lots 173 to 158 into the lakes. The ditch encompasses all of phases III and II and is required by the EPA as the pond acts as a filter before dumping into the lakes.

Lot sales continued and as soon as phase II was completed, construction continued on into Phase III at basically the same somewhat slow pace. These lots had only pedestals, wiring, plumbing and sewer in April 1983. Finally III was completed in August 1984 and our park was done, theoretically, it received its certificate of occupancy on August 21st. previously we had mentioned the tree lined parkway Desoto entrance all the way to the office. When this area was platted, the developers wanted to put in as many lots as possible so he moved the road to the west and made one lane. You can see where it starts out as two lanes and moves left to one. The trees were removed from the middle and also the right parkway lane and moved over to the right. This gained enough land to put in lots 328 to 333 (six) at $10,000 each for a nice profit. That is also the reason the gutter does not continue behind these lots.

Both II and III contain their own comfort stations which are 24' by 34' and 872 square feet. They are built of concrete block on a slab. All but 34 lots were sold by June 1, 1985 and the sales office was closed on May 15th, then sold and removed. The remaining 6 lots in II and 28 lots in III were eventually sold.

In August '84, our official park address was changed from Desoto Road to 1674 University Parkway. 34243. University Parkway was previously called County Line Road or "Old 301" from new 301 west. This was before the airport connector was built. As recent as 1969, county line road east of 301 was a dirt two lane road.

With II and III completed in 1984, our developer began a new venture. It had no direct connection with our park. In 1985 a convenience store, Amoco gas station, numerous storage sheds, car wash, propane sales, camper and trailer storage were built and opened in October of that year. This enterprise was called Sarasota Lakes Country Store, 1680 University Parkway. Our park store closed when this operation opened and they were allowed to handle the rental of our park lots from this store. In September 1986 this agreement was terminated and we retained the lot rentals from our office.

Our exit and entrance was planned to go straight out to county line (now University Pkwy.), however, part of this land was sold to the Herald Tribune. It lies dormant today. Therefore the road was curved to the left then back to the right and passed the new business onto County Line. This is now a frontage road for an industrial park and Bekins Moving Company. Any camper renting in our park was under the impression that the Sarasota Lakes Country Store was our business. The store rented our lots, sold groceries and propane with our Sarasota Lakes sign placed next to the Amoco sign. Lot rentals were accomplished by the store as they solicited lot owners by paying a higher commission than our park did. This was done in September 1986 when rentals were split. The county closed our Desoto Road gate in 1985 and University Pkwy. became the only way in or out. All this came crashing down when the Airport connector road was built through the business site. In 1990 our University Road entrance was closed, Desoto reopened and all rentals were back in the office. The buildings were razed and the connector built which was completed in August 1992. University was reopened in December 1992 with a handsome new entrance, a traffic light and our sign replaced where it belonged. Finally the eyesore storage junk yard was history. Incidentally, as far back as August 1980, it was mentioned about relocating our park store and office to another area, so this store venture was in the works for some time.

We purchase our water and sewer services from dolomite Utilities Corp. There are two water lines, one by the front gate and the other by the back (raised boxes) running from Manatee and Sarasota Counties for II, III and I. There are also two sewer lift stations and wastes are pumped from II and III comfort stations to a lift behind lots 12 - 13 and joined by I station. It all goes to a central treatment plant at Tri-Par Estates.

One of the attractions of our park is the proximity to just about any activity one can imagine and enjoy. Leaving by our main gate you can take a right for shopping, golfing, being out in the country and within a few miles is the interstate which is the gateway to the north and south. North contains about any conceivable amusement attraction, rocket science, sports - you name it. South and east the Atlantic Ocean, Keys and so on. The back gate affords art, history, theaters, racing, tropical and jungle gardens, island cities, rare orchids, exotic animals, museums, marine aquarium, performing arts, airport, beautiful bay, golf and miles of beaches. Both areas provide four colleges, four hospitals over 500 restaurants. We could go on and on but you get the idea.

At one time Sarasota was the circus capital of the world. With this brought many different shows and performers who wintered here when off the road. Many eventually retired in the area. Over the years, while wintering, many circus people stayed at Sarasota Lakes. This allowed us to enjoy entertainment in one form or the other. In the 1970's there was a couple from England who lived in a caravan type circus wagon that was brightly painted. Also in the '70's there was a female animal trainer with a Tiglon. This animal is a hybrid between a male tiger and a female lion. The animal's name was Tonya and she was kept in a cage on lot 73 for all to see. There was also a woman with a lion-tiger act that stayed here but didn't keep her animals in the park. She still owns a lot but rents it. In the early '90's a flying act set up their trapeze rigging and practiced across from lots 191-194. In the middle '90's we had a knife throwing, whips, fire eating and cloud swing. This family also had a large assortment of snakes but we're sure management was not aware of this. No fear, they bought a house in Gibsonton. We've had a midget, low wire act, juggler, hire wire act, foot jugglers, balancing and another trapeze artist who owned two lots. There was also an exceptional Bulgarian low wire act with Ringling Brothers who appeared in the movie "The Greatest Show on Earth" and owned lot 265 at one time. In addition we've had elephant trainers, but no elephants and concessionaires. There are four who bought lots and reside here permanently; Ariel performers and comedy act, comedy act, panther act, one finger stand and clowning, a chimp act, and an executive with Ringling Brothers who owned several lots and served on our board. Other noteworthy residents were Geraldo Rivera's parents, a former Rockette dancer, a former national league pitcher with the Boston Braves (then Milwaukee now Atlanta), an exotic dancer who performed at Club Mary's (now known as Cheetah's) and even the gypsy's who cased our park and the medieval fair performers.

There are several landmarks we feel are worth mentioning. Evidence of a rail spur exists that ran from behind the Herald-Tribune building and crosses our road at the main entrance to the old mines. This is a raised area across the road near a palm tree leaning to the south with a large tree stump and another tree beyond it. The dolomite loading elevator device and office was visible before the connector road was built. Walks to the back gate for the school bus and Tri-Par bus stop are visible between lots 45 and 46 and lots 55 and 56. The long time red and white water tower landmark behind the Herald-Tribune building was dismantled in 1992.

Over the years we have had various park managers serve us: Dean Hathaway - 1974 Ray Rocka - KOA 1978 Bob Van Rijsewijk - KOA 1980, Sarasota Lakes 1983 Ed Martin - 1985 Paul Yeomans - 1985 Mike Burchette - 1986 Eileen Cooper - 1987 Don Fossitt – 1987 Bob Manners - KOA 1979, Sarasota Lakes 1987 Bill Foster - 1989 Bonnie Milliken – 1989 Dean Chandler  - 2013

In the transition from Seago Group to Sarasota Lakes it required the relinquishing from one board to the other. President - Thomas R. Holliman - North Fort Myers, FL Vice-president - Omar R. Hathaway - Sarasota Lakes Secretary - Treasurer - Bob Van Rijsewijk - Sarasota Lakes

Following the relinquishment, our first board was elected and they took control in July, 1980. We were actually incorporated December 3, 1980.

The board operates with five members. President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and a member at large. They are elected to office at the annual meeting with each owner casting one ballot per share. The meeting has been held in January in 1987, February in 1988 and 1989 and in March for the years 1990 through 1998. In 1990 it was decided that more time was necessary to prepare the budget. The share-holder's annual meeting has never been held at Sarasota Lakes due to the turnout. Various facilities have been used: Sarasota Motor Inn, Ramada Inn, '89, Holiday Inn Airport, '90, '91, '92, '93, '94 and Queen Martyr's Church - Bradenton, '95, '96, '97, '98.

Monthly board meetings are held from November through April. They were originally held on the third Wednesday in 1986 and prior to this. In 1987 they were changed to the second Wednesday for '87, '88, '89, '90. In 1991 the day was changed to the second Tuesday which remains today. Meetings start at 7 PM. Town hall gatherings, board workshops and other special meetings are held from time to time. All meetings are open to shareholders.

What started out as a modest Holiday then KOA campground has turned into a million dollar operation. It took a promoter-developer to get us started but that was just the beginning. Some of us may or may not agree with everything that has happened along the way but we have to agree that the end results are very gratifying. The ground work was done, sales made and then it was up to us to take over. That we did! When we took the reins from the developer in July 1980, things started to happen. While our maintenance fees started at $31.00 a month and have risen to $112.00 after almost 20 years, Many, many improvements and additions have been made. The confidence owners in our park have shown is indicated by the installation of many new models and remodeling during the past ten years. A survey was made in 1989 and showed the following permanent units: Phase I - 60, II - 66, III - 39 (40 totally occupied. 1999 show the following:    I -114 (72), II - 120 (84), and III - 93 (76). Our park now has 325 permanent units on 420 lots for a total of 77 occupied, almost doubled in ten years. Please note that there are not many vacant lots left. This does not take into account the number of remodeling jobs.

Following are day to day, month to month, year to year ongoing expenses and improvements that cost money; some minor - others major but they all cost. Roads resurfaced, trees trim med (we have over 850 palms), tennis courts resurfaced, pool chairs cleaned, re-strapped or re-placed, ditches maintained, new computers, printers, scanners, copiers, and other office supplies, kitchen equipment, bathhouses pool, restrooms renovated, constant debris pickup. trash and garbage removal, and kitchen maintained for health and license inspections. Other expenses include buildings and vehicles fire and liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, various fees and permits, continuous painting and repair to buildings and laundry, ongoing maintenance to all buildings and repair and replacement of equipment and vehicles, floors stripped, cleaned and waxed in the rec hall, pool cleaning, supplies and repairs and maintenance of gates and fences, roof repairs and replacements, sewer and water lines and related costs, vending and LP gas restocking, cost of LP gas park uses, employee payroll, taxes, social security, bookkeeping, attorneys and accounting fees, advertising, bank charges, employee benefits plus increases, pest control, printing expenses, postage and mailing costs. The list goes on to telephones, electric, water, sewer, cable, gas, janitorial supplies, uniforms, rugs cleaned, contracting of services, administration overhead, property and other taxes, flower beds, ongoing inspection of lots and properties on improvements for the benefit of all owners and continued policing of the park. These are ongoing and there are many others. Bet you didn't realize how busy your maintenance fees were!

Further on is a list of noteworthy recent improvements, betterments and proposals that have been made. The major rehabs have already been discussed. The total costs of the aforementioned and following come from the present $115.00 monthly fee plus four special assess-ments that were necessary. In 4/86 $112 for taxes, 11/86 $60.75 to fund reserve account, 9/90 $75 shortfall for water, sewer, trash and workers comp, 5/93 $100 for new wiring in phase I. This is a co-op and everyone shares.

Noteworthy Recent Improvements

1985 - New 337' by 41/2 ' chain link fence installed around the pool replacing the wooden fence that had been there since the pool was built in 1972. New fence installed around three shuffleboard courts that had previously been open. New security fence installed on south side in "I" to the lakes. This was then repaired in '90 and replaced by stockade in '93.

1986- Park had night security guard at front gate. He worked out of the guard shack. New roof on clubhouse with other major repairs.  Ants and insects were eating the plywood siding on the west side of the building. This was replaced with treated plywood and painted. The door south of the three large sliding glass doors that opened into the library was removed and covered over, The entire building was then painted. Major repairs were made to the laundry which was also painted.

1987- Trailer and boat storage area was opened in pineapple circle lot. A nine-hole pitch and put mini golf course was proposed on three acres around the tennis courts but this never materialized.

1988 - New security lighting in various strategic locations such as comfort stations, intersections, gates etc... Cable TV installed. New window put in the office to facilitate supervision of the pool. Music also put in pool area, swimming pool rebuilt with new thermal heating, filter system and lights.

1989 - Security gate and computer installed at front gate. Evergreens planted around outside of pool fence.

1990 - University Parkway closed and Desoto reopened with a new gate. New 24' by 36' storage equipment and maintenance frame pole building was built.

1992 - Comfort station in “I” closed and converted to storage and woodworking shop in '93. New floor installed in kitchen.

1993 - Tennis courts resurface, new chain link fence installed along shoreline. Pool deck refinished. New basket weave privacy and windbreak installed in pool fence. Entire electric redone in phase “I”. New fan in kitchen and new central air in office and rec hall.

1994 - Fourth shuffleboard court added and new shed. New concrete poured for pool shower area. New water fountain at office parking lot. New floor in phase “I” comfort station.

1995- New vinyl siding installed on office, rec building and guard shack. Three trees removed by pool area and replaced with queen palms. Air conditioner booster unit added to north end of rec hall. Beauty shop remodeled. New 8 x10 storage shed added to the north end of rec hall. New sidewalk installed along west side of rec hall. New sidewalk installed along the west side of the rec hall. Office and rec hall building completely remodeled.

1996 - Fourth shuffleboard court added plus additional fencing. A new front door was installed in the office building. The roads in II were resurfaced. The bath house and laundry floors were repainted. Water meters were installed in the bathhouses. They were already in the pool and laundry.

1997- Pool cover considered and rejected. Lights and roof installed at shuffleboard courts.. New roof on storage and woodworking building (old comfort station). Awning extended on the west side of the rec building.

1998 - New tables for the rec hall. Four new palm trees planted on old dumpster site across from lots 337 - 338. Fifth and sixth shuffleboard courts and four new benches added. Roof and fence extended and bushes planted. new fascia installed on rec hall building.

We are now required to paint and maintain the nine lire hydrants in the park. This was done. Adult pool drained, cleaned and acid washed. Kids pool re-mar sited and pool deck pressure cleaned. Shuffleboard courts pressure cleaned roads and parking lots seal coated and restriped in phase. Swale dug out to eliminate flooding behind rec building,

1999 - New front gate. New palm tree in pool area.

In addition, there have been many cosmetic changes, too numerous to mention. Updates will be coming soon.

Facts of Interest Sarasota Lakes was formed in 1978. Horseshoes, badminton, and volleyball were played back in 1977. Our speed limit was 10mph before 1980 when it was increased to 15mph. The first park model was put on in 1983. There are 21 acres in Phase “I” and 25 in “II” and “III” for a
total of 46 acres. From 1983 to the present there have been various improvements allowed and disallowed: 1983 - canvas patio roof OK but no screen rooms at this time (considered appurtenant structure); 1985 - metal roof OK but no enclosure; 1991 - screens OK; 1992 -vinyl windows OK; 1995 - raised deck OK and glass windows OK. As recently as 1980 the county imposed rules relating to storms that were impossible to follow. We were told we had to remove our unit from the park if a serious storm threatened. When our trailers were set the tow tongues had to be removed and stored, strapping and skirting were required and awnings and roof put in place. This made it impossible to move but fortunately we never had to move out.

In 1986 the park was placed in receivership due to the recall of three board members. The remaining two could not constitute a quorum to conduct business. The three were replaced, receiver released and business continued. The park tried to have the Desoto gate reopened but was unsuccessful. Before 1986, there was a 35' limit on park models. This was increased to 40' in 1989 which holds today. In 1987 12' wide units were allowed. Before only 8' with a 4' tip out were the maximum. We have a permanent easement in and out the front gate to University as our property ends at the guard house. The office will rent your lot for a small percentage. An owner can sublease but is responsible for any violations. Sales and lot rentals must have board approval. the fence down the south side of I is 940' by 6' and is made of Cyprus. Our pool had a diving board that was removed in 1987 due to rising insurance costs. In June 1988, a  9.1 million dollar airport connector road was proposed. In 1989 sheds were only allowed at the rear if your unit and employees wore uniforms for the first time. Town hall meetings were started. In 1991 discussion started on water meters (still not resolved). In 1991 laundry hours changed to 7AM to 10PM due to vandalism. Vegetables were sold in the park for the first time (recently discontinued due to low sales). In 1991 bracelets were tried at the pool without success. 1992 the airport connector road was finished (8-92) and the Desoto Road gate was closed all the time except with a gate card. University gate was closed at night and on weekends. 1992 saw major revision in the bylaws, enforcement in occupancy restrictions, new washers and dryers installed and recycling started. 1993 the maintenance billing procedure changed. Pipes were now required under driveway. Area code changed from 813 to 941 in 1995. Three Purple Martin houses appeared in '95, 96,97, thanks to Mr. Morrison who owns Lot 123. Bicycle repair man started coming into the park in 1996.

Over the years activities have been an integral part of our park, Following is a list and dates. Some began in the Holiday-KOA era but most during Sarasota Lakes time when they were organized and competition started. Bible Study - 1983 Bingo - 1977 Bowling - 1988 Care Committee (shut ins) - 1986 Church Service - 1989 Coffee and Donuts - 1993 Computer Club - 1998 Crafts - 1 990 Dances - 1983 50/50 - 1995 Game Night - 1994 Golf - 1984 Horse Shoes - 1977 organized 1994 Hot Dog Days - 1992 Ice Cream Social - 1990 Line Dancing - 1991 Morning Coffee - 1982 Morning Exercise - 1982 News and Views - 1991 Po-Ke-No - 1990 Poolercise - 1988 Pot Luck Suppers - 1979 Shuffle Board - 1972 organized 1996 Sing-A-Long - 1999 Special Dinners - 1994 Social Hour - 1995 Talent Show - 1995 Tennis - 1981 organized 1985 Tours - 1994 Wood Carving - 1991

In addition, various special activities are held periodically: Card Games Christmas Dinners Country Concerts Dances - live or tape music New Year’s Party Slide Shows Special Dinners St. Patrick's Party Travelogues Valentine's party

Special services provided at various times have been: Eye Clinic                   Blood Pressure Check Health Checks            Flu Shots Health Fair                  LifelineScreening Hearing Tests             Medical Plan Offered Stroke and Vascular Screening

In summation, our board consisted of people assisted by volunteers who help with projects, provide programs and serve on committees; they contribute greatly to our growth and development. When someone volunteers, they are actually sharing their abilities, knowledge and talents for the good of all. In the end it boils down to what we are, a co-op. Add the word people and you have cooperative people. The definition of cooperating is to act or work with another and associated with others for mutual economic benefit. Co-op, people - that says it all.

We have attempted to show you what has happened with our few short years. If your hard work continues, how can we lose. Compiled by: Ken Fishleigh Special thanks to: Jim Anderson, Bonnie Milliken, Jean Wadsworth