Key Royale drivers tee up protest: Beep

It seems there was one beep too many by motorists on Key Royale Drive.

While there’s no dispute over a speeding problem on the access to the Holmes Beach golfing enclave, a seemingly harmless horn-honking protest in response to speed bumps was met with complaints and strong enforcement of “excessive” noise.

The disgruntled drivers were complaining about the installation of speed-calming cushions on the road adjacent to Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti’s home.

Monti previously offered to have the speed cushion installed in front of his home in the 500 block of Key Royale Drive, saying he would report its effectiveness to Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer.

It prompted some motorists to protest to the mayor by intentionally blowing horns as they crossed the speed cushions.

In response to complaints from the mayor and some of his neighbors, Tokajer stood on patrol with his officers for two hours April 22 at the speed cushions.

Tokajer said he witnessed 41 speeding violations in the two hours. HBPD issued warnings, as well as tickets. One motorist was clocked at 49 mph on the road where the posted speed limit is 25 mph.

Motorists also were warned against “excessive” horn honking while driving past and one was ticketed.

Former Key Royale resident Hank Tremblay — who said friends now call him “Horatio” — was furious over receiving a $75 “excessive horn” ticket April 22.

He said he first refused to sign the citation over the “signature of violator,” saying he planned to protest the ticket, but faced with a threat of jail and impoundment of his vehicle, he signed. He vowed to fight the claim that he had honked his car horn excessively.

By April 25, he had spoken to the chief again and his temper had calmed somewhat. He planned to meet with the chief April 30 to further discuss his citation.

Holmes Beach resident Piroska Planck, told commissioners at their April 22 city commission meeting, the speed cushions are not working. She suggested routine speed enforcement and police patrols would be more welcome.

Her husband, Sam Planck, had sent an earlier email to city hall voicing his concerns on the positioning of the speed cushion and possible damage to vehicles.

At the meeting, Commission Chair Judy Titsworth said, “I think it would have been wise to send out a Key Royale mailer to deal with the problem.”

“I volunteered to have it placed in front of my house because I knew I would be taking the brunt of it,” said Monti.

Tokajer said the mayor planned to provide daily feedback — there were concerns the cushions might be noisy.

“I would rather bother the mayor than bother a citizen,” the chief said.

But the chief and mayor apparently didn’t count on the impact to neighbors.

Tokajer reviewed the speed cushions again with public works on April 24 and said, as a result, the speed cushion likely will be moved west on Key Royale Drive.

Tokajer said most of the violations involved motorists turning off Marina Drive onto Key Royale Drive. He believes moving the cushion west will prompt drivers to slow down sooner.

Key Royale resident Andy Sheridan commended Tokajer and asked the commission to increase the police budget to support the chief’s safety measures.

Sheridan, who is vice president of the Key Royale Residents Owners Association, said he has spoken on the issue of speeding at annual meetings and included the topic in community newsletters.

“I cannot believe that we have resident homeowners who have not received the message,” Sheridan said.