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Longboat Key Letters – September 2010

Updated Sept. 30, 2010.

Vision Plan comments

To: Patricia Zunz

I appreciate the opportunity to participate/observe the proceedings of the Vision Plan Subcommittee. I understand that the work of the subcommittee is near completion with an amended draft of the original 2009 Vision Plan as accepted by the Town Commission and that the final meeting Sept. 15 will be to review the final draft as agreed upon from the prior meetings.

Since I’m a newbie to the key I have no baggage to carry regarding how the 2009 Vision Plan was developed starting in 2005 and the intent of the plan to affect changes in the Comprehensive Plan. I see what I see with no history. My baggage so to speak is that I have participated in vision planning, comprehensive planning and, my favorite, implementation of what was planned. I know that a strong Vision Plan can launch a thousand policies and actions to make a real difference in creating, improving and maintaining a viable and attractive community. Toward this end, I offer some suggestions that may not be time sensitive to the sunset date of the subcommittee but could be helpful as the document is aired and reviewed by the public.

I understand the propensity of the subcommittee to wordsmith the prior Vision Plan document in order (Sections I, II, and III) starting with the Vision Statement, then Strengths and Weaknesses, then Goals, Strategies and Actions and to largely ignore but nevertheless retain the appendix as historical. However, it may have been wiser to have reviewed and updated the appendix first, because this contains or should contain the identification of issues and factual basis for addressing these issues—not only what we know but also what we don’t but need to know as best we can. That is, appendixes come first in the order of things and once completed they go last, because they are the foundation for what is constructed as a vision and the basis for the goals and actions that follow from this vision.

As is, the 2009 appendix does identify and discuss issues. There isn’t any particular ordering of the subject matter and there is a paucity of numbers, statistics and trends and sources and analysis. A somewhat stream of consciousness meandering outline for an updated and strengthened appendix might be (We are only limited by our imaginations so when we don’t free ourselves to imagine, we never get to explore the possibilities and vision is what could be more than it is what is):

• Longboat Key’s economic base in view of the major recession—future prospects for economic stability and health

• Residential Base—real estate values trends

• Tourist Base—the role of tourism/visitors in supporting the local economy

• Commercial/service base—fulltime businesses for part-time community?

• Amenities

• As a tourist and retirement destination locally, regionally, nationally and internationally what are the indicators of strengths and weaknesses?

• What are the prospects for growth, rejuvenation and development/redevelopment? Ageing of the housing stock and public infrastructure including communication

•  Vacant lots, prospective redevelopment sites—tourist property consolidation and redevelopment. The 250 tourist units floating looking for homes.

• Natural environment its components and health and threats—risk management

• The barrier island experience—Bay and Gulf and water, water everywhere.

• Ever-changing shoreline beach stabilization and erosion. Beach quality—what is it? Public beach access sufficient? Attractive? Attracting whom?

• The Gulf oil—offshore oil drilling threats perceived and real

• Wildlife—turtles and birds and fish and other creatures

• Water supply and water quality

• Hurricanes and storm events—climate change and sea rise

• Ground cover, tree canopies, impermeable surfaces and drainage

• Community—our human resources, population, residents, part-time and fulltime, education, age demographics/quality of life indicators

• Privacy/seclusion/public interaction and socializing opportunities, active and passive

• Beyond the island—what impacts us? National, international trends. New technology.

• The Internet, emerging international economies, home-based work/business opportunities

• Demise of bricks and mortar retail, active recreational trends—golf, tennis, exercise/fitness

• The built environment on Longboat Key—what’s unique? Diversity of architecture and buildings types—Old Florida, modern, international, Italian villas/neo brutalism. Is there a unique Longboat Key look or is diversity of styles on the key?

• Affordability—incomes and outcomes diversity of people, changing demographics—who will replace current residents?

• Gulf of Mexico Drive – our spine and arterial/highway connection to the outside world; landscaping with raised medians and tree rows creating canopy of shade. Do we want to maintain 45 mph? Pedestrian crossings?

• Aesthetics—greening and structuring the public realm as outdoor rooms, boulevards and interconnected places.

• Land use—consolidation and integration of commercial uses?

• Energy conservation and green building techniques and retrofits and alternative energy sources

• Town Center? Conservation of energy and convenience. We have a town but where is the town? Could we have a downtown?

• A car-free Longboat? All electric? Smarter public transit, vehicle trip reductions, rent a vehicle only when you need it. Car sharing? How can we reduce the physical and environmental impacts of the private vehicle? Ecotourism? Each complex provides electric carts or cars in lieu of private vehicles?

Larry Grossman
Longboat Key

From: Patricia Zunz

To: Larry Grossman

A public hearing is being planned for the Vision Plan some time within the next two months, and you are welcome to bring up these issues at that time.

Patricia Zunz, Planning, Building and Zoning Board
Longboat Key


Commissioner questions Firefighter’s Pension Board

To: Town Commission

I have asked Tom Kelley to contact Jim Linn regarding Commissioner Younger’s questions as Mr. Linn is in the best position to respond regarding the state law regarding pension boards.

I will make sure that David Persson sees Mr. Linn’s response in case there are areas such as the hiring of consultants that refer back to a town policy or procedure. Mr. Sugarman, who represents the Fire Pension Board, did indicate that the board was acting within their authority when the question was raised at the pension meeting, but we will ask Mr. Linn for his opinion.

Bruce St. Denis, town manager
Longboat Key

To: Jim Linn

We recently spoke about the latitude the Town Commission has in restricting what the town’s pension boards may spend money on for items such as studies and consultants, etc. You stated that there is very little control the Town Commission has over the spending done by the Pension Trustees.

The town manager has requested that you provide a letter to the town that outlines your interpretation of the Florida Statutes in regards to this matter. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thomas D. Kelley CPA, finance director
Longboat Key


Country Club Shores turn lane

To: Commissioner Lynn Larson

I just wanted to say “Thank you” for your efforts in getting the right turn easement lane into our subdivision at Country Club Shores Unit Five replaced.

Please pass on my thanks to Juan as well.

Greg Watson
Longboat Key


Gulf of Mexico Drive speed study

To: Town Manager Bruce St. Denis

At Commissioner Bob Siekmann’s request the Town Commission asked staff to contact the Florida Department of Transportation to request a speed limit study in the section of GMD north of Broadway Avenue. The current posted speed limit in that section of road is 45 miles per hour. There have been some local concerns that cars exiting Broadway wanting to make a left turn onto GMD did not have sufficient time to make the turning movement because incoming traffic was traveling too fast.

FDOT has performed the study as requested. The email below from FDOT Assistant District Traffic Operations Engineer Donald Cashdollar summarizes the results. A copy of the engineering report is attached.

Juan J. Florensa, Public Works director
Longboat Key

To: Public Works Director Juan Florensa

This is a follow up to your request for the department to conduct a speed study in the vicinity of SR 789 and Broadway. The department did conduct a speed study in this area. In addition, we did a field review of the area, reviewed the crashes and conducted a ball bank study. Upon review of all this data we have determined the current posted speed is the appropriate one for this area. Therefore we are not recommending any changes.

For your information, at the same time we did additional speed studies to cover SR 789 from the Sarasota County Line to State Road 64. The studies supported the existing posted speeds for the entire length of SR 789 in Manatee County.

I have attached a copy of the report to this e-mail. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please feel free to contact me.

Donald Cashdollar Jr. P.E.
Assistant district traffic operations engineer
Florida Department of Transportation, District One

To: Bruce St. Denis

Bruce, what about a traffic light activated only from Broadway? Otherwise flashing.

Dave Brenner, commissioner
Longboat Key

To: Commissioner David Brenner

FDOT does not usually do partial measures. If a traffic light is justified it will be a full functioning light with the possible exception of off-hours as is sometimes the case with the town’s other two lights.

We know that the Broadway communities on both sides of GMD do not come close to meeting what are called the “warrants” that are used to justify signalization. Usually meeting of at least two warrants are required.

If the Town Commission requests it, we can ask for FDOT to do the study.

Bruce St. Denis, town manager
Longboat Key

To: Town Commission

Based on a request from Village residents, the town requested a study of the speed limit at the North End. Attached is a report commissioned by FDOT. It is their conclusion that no change is warranted.

I have copied this e-mail to Michael Drake who is currently the president of the Village Association. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like this subject placed on a future workshop.

Bruce St. Denis, town manager
Longboat Key


Referendum question for ballot

To: Town Commission

At the Sept. 23 workshop meeting, the question arose as to the deadline for placement of a referendum question(s) on the March 2011 General Election Ballot. Sarasota County has responded and indicated that the absolute deadline would be January 7, 2011, but would prefer submission as early as possible. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Trish Granger, town clerk
Longboat Key


Herald-Tribune article

To: Columnist James Brown

Thank you for your very accurate and fair Herald-Tribune article about the intents, purposes and methodology related to the Longboat Key Departmental Review Subcommittee. It is amazing, but not unexpected when you think about it, regarding the qualifications of the Longboat Key residents (including those not part of the final grouping) who have volunteered their services without pay to help the town in its effort to improve (perhaps fine tune would be a better description) operations and services. The assistance of our fellow residents is quite a comparison to a recent decision by Manatee to hire a single individual at a cost of about $80,000 to do virtually the same thing.

Phill Younger, commissioner
Longboat Key


Restrictions during turtle season challenging

To: Commissioner David Brenner

I received a copy of a letter from Mr. Tim Thurman that proposes restrictions on beach furniture being left on the beach at night during turtle nesting season. Mr. Thurman has requested being placed on the agenda for the Oct. 21 workshop. I would like to give you my opinion concerning this issue. This is only my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Beachplace Association Inc.

At Beachplace, we keep our beach furniture in close proximity of the dune. In three years that I have been GM here, we have had only one nest even close to where our furniture is located on the beach. The turtles do not normally come all the way to the dune to lay their eggs. Asking us to move our furniture daily would be almost impossible. I would need to move all the furniture at 3:30 p.m. each day before our employees go home for the day. Our owners and guests would not be able to enjoy using the furniture during the evening hours when the beach is the most enjoyable.

My security guard does pull all furniture back to the dune at sunset so that it is not near the water. If driftwood or another object were on the beach, the turtle would avoid that obstacle. I’m all for making sure the turtles have access to the beach to lay their eggs, but I also feel there needs to be some compromise for our owners and guests. It would be easier for everyone if the rules would read that no furniture is permitted on the beach at all during turtle season. Even better, let’s not let anyone on the beach at all during turtle nesting season. Of course, I’m not serious.

In the past two years, Beachplace has spent more than $40,000 to upgrade our property lighting to be in compliance with the turtle codes and still have much more to do. Some commonsense needs to be used when making these decisions. Of all of the nests in the world, how many have been affected because a turtle bumped into beach furniture? We saw at the Mote lighting seminar photos of a turtle that has been struck and killed by a car, but how many times has this actually happened around the world? Should we stop driving on the island during turtle nesting season? I do not live on the island so the ruling does not affect me or my employees, other than causing extra work for us. I realize that many rules and codes are initiated by the state and federal governments, and that little can be done to revise these. I also realize that our local government is required to enforce the rules and codes that are in place. Let’s not add to them if possible.

Thank you for taking the time to read my remarks. As always, Beachplace and myself will fully comply and cooperate with any and all rules and codes that are implemented.

Nick Luman, general manager
Beachplace Association Inc.


Congratulations to new fire chief

To: Town Commission

I am pleased to announce the selection of Paul Dezzi as fire chief of the town of Longboat Key.

I have been impressed with his performance as interim chief. I am convinced that Chief Dezzi will continue do an outstanding job for the town. I have attached a copy of a press release that will be issued this afternoon.

Bruce St. Denis, town manager
Longboat Key

To: Town Manager Bruce St. Denis

Congratulations to Chief Dezzi. I believe this to be an excellent choice and am also certain that he will do an outstanding job.

Phill Younger, commissioner
Longboat Key


Facilities tour

To: Assistant to Town Manager Susan Phillips

I spoke with Commissioner Brenner this morning to discuss where we would meet at 1 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 7 to begin our facilities tour.

I think it would be best if the three of us meet at Town Hall that day and start our tour from there. Since you have been coordinating all these meetings, could you please contact Mr. Freiwald via email to let him know where to meet us?

Juan Florensa, Public Works director
Longboat Key


Trolley advertising

A point of interest you might mention when you have joint meetings with Sarasota and Manatee concerning the trolley:

They have said they have no policy on advertising—and I can sympathize with not putting ads on the outside of their beautiful buses. But inside the buses there are spaces near the ceiling for ads, and now I note that they are public service-type info rather than commercial.

Maybe they could consider using this space to the advantage of increasing revenues on Route 18, and since the same buses are used on the Manatee portion of the route along with trolleys, perhaps if they do this there can be a split of the revenue between Manatee and Sarasota. Thanks for all you are doing in trying to resolve a complex issue.

Freda Perrotta
Longboat Key


Town Hall cell service

To: Commissioner Robert Siekmann

Bob, would you please be kind enough to inquire of the town manager why the island residents are unable to use their cell phones in Town Hall when femtocells are readily available?

I made this suggestion more than a year ago and it went nowhere. Perhaps you will have better luck.

AT&T would most likely give the town one of their units. Verizon are generally meanies, so the town might have to spend $150 to allow its residents to use their cell phones while they are conducting town business. Town Hall is a cell phone dead zone for AT&T, and not much better for the other carriers.

Today a resident sent an e-mail to the commission with at attached article about a cell carrier giving free femtocells to everyone in a community who needed one. Perhaps if the town manager actively lobbied AT&T and Verizon, they would be willing to give femtocells to our residents who use cell phones in their homes and are unable to get good reception. We will never know unless we ask. I feel that the town being proactive about our communications needs could not hurt.

Gene Jaleski
Longboat Key

To: Gene Jaleski

We have already installed a BDA (bi-directional amplifier) in Town Hall for Sprint/Nextel so signal inside is excellent. Sprint/Nextel is the town’s provider for emergency communications.

A signal strength of -100 dBm is considered the threshold for serviceable signal. Less negative than -100 dBm is stronger.

I have a Verizon phone and have an inside signal of -83 dBm. On the front steps of Town Hall the signal strength increases to -52 dBm. Download speed is 2 Mbps and upload is 1Mbps on a Verizon Droid.

Alltel has an antenna on Islands West, and while we do not have specific signal information, Alltel users indicate making or dropped calls are not a problem in Town Hall.

AT&T does not have an antenna in our immediate vicinity and signal strength is weak. However, at least eight employees in both buildings already have iPhones, so we would need a solution beyond the capabilities of a femtocell before we actually improve conditions. AT&T femtocells can only handle four devices at one time. Town employees with AT&T are not asking for service improvement in Town Hall.

Finally, I am not aware of residents expressing concerns with their ability to make calls inside of Town Hall.

Bruce St. Denis, town manager
Longboat Key


St. Armand’s Circle traffic follow-up work session

To: Public Works Director Juan Florensa

I have been notified that a number of people on the list of invitees for the Sept. 24 St. Armand’s Circle Traffic follow-up work session would not be available to attend on that date. Therefore, I would like to offer the following dates for your consideration. The date that receives the most favorable responses will be the date for the meeting. I have been advised that the room where we held the previous meeting is available anytime from Sept. 27 through Oct. 1. I would suggest either 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. for any of those dates. Please let me know of the dates and times that best fit your schedule.

Bob Herrington, planning manager
Sarasota/Manatee MPO

To: Public Works Director Juan Florensa

I will attempt to have the BID there also, as they are directly involved.

Thanks for this information. By the way, I had asked the Longboat Key Club to donate funds for pedestrian lights (if that was decided), which I think would run about $70,000 for the main intersections at the circle. He agreed to do so. Keep this in mind.

Mark Kauffman
Longboat Key


Politics is local

To: Columnist Peter O’Connor

I read with amusement your article regarding the Republican Party of Sarasota rally at Robarts Arena. While I agree with your message, I think it is important that you know the Republican Club of Longboat Key was well represented at this event. Apparently you didn’t look too carefully as you may have shaken hands with Burt Rosenfeld who greeted people at the entrance. Perhaps you saw Jack Brill delivering balloons to the long rows of tables. Then there was Dr. Jim Whitman, Jack Black and Jack Jacobs talking to anyone who asked about the “Coalition for Common Sense” t-shirts that we wore to bring attention to what our core theme is for the Republican Club of Longboat Key. As President of our club I was invited to stand on stage for the entire event where I had the privilege of shaking hands with every candidate and inviting them to our Kick Off Cocktail Party Sept. 22 at the Sarasota Yacht Club.

This brings me to the main purpose of this e-mail…we cordially invite you to join us at this event so you can personally meet all the dedicated Longboat Key Republicans who engage, participate and represent our little island on a wider stage as we “Take Back America.” I sincerely hope to see you there. Invitation attached.

Phyllis Black
Longboat Key


Keep Longboat low density

To: Editor

I doubt that building a few high-rise resort structures, as is being proposed by two of the commissioners, will have any appreciable impact on Longboat tourism. It will alter the persona of the island. Atmosphere is a vital aspect of any community. Longboat’s persona as an upscale, low density, residential island paradise has served the property owners well for the past three decades in terms of property values.

Unfortunately it is our low density, low impact status that is attractive to developers. Allowing a few greedy people to blight our community with ill-conceived development schemes may have a large negative impact on the community as a whole and on home values in particular.

Residents need to become aware of what is going on in the community. Intelligent revitalization of the community is desirable. Purely profit-driven development is most likely not good for the community as a whole.

We have done very well being an upscale, low-density residential island paradise. Let’s not turn it into Siesta Key, or worse yet Panama City Beach.

Gene Jaleski
Longboat Key


Budget suggestions

To: Commissioner David Brenner

Budget changes are always looked at and talked about from “cutting the budget.” The budget should be looked at from a stand point of what do we need to run the shop. Start with the basic needs and move up from there.

The commission needs to look a lot closer at things they spend money on like special projects and consultants for things they know need to be done, surveys are all nice, but not always needed. When you need a survey to tell you need a survey, you have gone too far.

It is also important to look at the higher-paying positions; you have more department heads than some of your departments have people—that makes no real sense. Some can and should be consolidated, and not just Fire and Police departments.

As for the commission micromanaging the town, that statement is totally out at this point and does not apply. Doing more with less requires the commission to take a more active roll in the performance of the staff at all levels and require supervisors and department heads to come up to task.

Looking at the benefits of your higher-paying positions at this time would also be the proper thing to do, take-home cars, the additional time off, the retirement/paying into 401/457 plans, etc. I would be happy to provide more, but I think you have the idea.

“Do more with less” starts with the paycheck no matter how you cut it, and it needs to start at the top and move down; so far it has been from the bottom up and that will not get the job done.

I spent more than 30 years working with budgets with the town of Longboat Key. I did budgets when we did not have any forms or computers, so I feel I do have some experience. As a current property owner on the island, I also understand the issues of the tax increase and how people feel about it, I feel the same. Increase in taxes should be the last thing to happen, but we do need to look at the overall cost.

When cost for our everyday items needed to run the shop like gas, water, electric, office supplies, etc. We really do not have control over those costs, however our level of service depends on those things. We cannot process even the smallest request like fixing a water break, issuing a permit, providing a public records request, all the things that people think are free cost money.

I hope the new committee looking at the operations will look into the some of the things that I have mentioned. Knowledge of the town’s operations for all involved is very important from all sides of the table, not just what you hear at the dais.

Having said that, if we need to increase taxes to keep service, not “high level of service,” just what is needed, starting from that point and moving forward makes it work for me and I would think everyone would agree with that.

Getting a high level of service with less money can be done if the money is spent in the right places, not by cutting budgets on the working end of the operations.

Please contact me if I can be of any help or assistance to you or your committee.

Randy Fowler
Longboat Key

To: Randy Fowler

Thanks for your thoughts. Are you ever out on the key? I’d like to explore some of this with you in more depth.

Dave Brenner, commissioner
Longboat Key


Comprehensive Plan for Longboat Key

To: Commissioner Phillip Younger, Commissioner David Brenner

Hello. I am a homeowner on Longboat Key and wanted to express my sincere hope that any review of the Comprehensive Plan does not allow for increased development. Longboat Key is a treasure with its beautiful beaches and some open spaces—this would be lost forever if more commercial development is allowed, destroying the beautiful open spaces and bringing crowds to the key, when its resources cannot handle the influx. There is plenty of commercial development right nearby Longboat Key; there is no need to bring it to the key itself. In fact, increasing development on the key will backfire and hurt the economy of the key, because it will make Longboat Key less desirable to residents and visitors. Thank you for considering my concerns and please share my comments with the Town Commission.

Abigail Roth
Longboat Key

To: Abigail Roth

Thanks for your e-mail. I urge you to come and participate in the public hearings of the Planning Board and Town Commission when the Comprehensive Plan is discussed. These should be held later in the fall and the input of all of our citizens is essential.

Dave Brenner, commissioner
Longboat Key


No expansion for Longboat

To: Commissioner Phillip Younger

I am not interested in an expansion plan for Longboat Key. A beautiful residential neighborhood is what it’s all about. Changing the Comprehensive Plan to make the key into another east coast, commercial, crowded vacation area is just overkill. Please consider another way to keep our beautiful community unique. I would appreciate your sharing my views with the other commissioners.

Carole Feiger
Longboat Key


Comprehensive plan change

To: Commissioner Phillip Younger

Longboat is a residential village. Tourism, which exists in Sarasota, is minutes away. If you allow the Key Club development, we will not be able to get off this key during the height of the season.

Richard Seidel
Longboat Key

To: Richard Seidel

The Longboat Key Club proposal, or at least a modified version, after many prior modifications, was approved by the Commission by a 6-1 vote several months ago. What is presently transpiring are court challenges to this decision. It will be many years before this plan is completed.

Phill Younger, commissioner
Longboat Key


Department review question

To: Commissioners David Brenner, Phill Younger and Lynn Larson

Thanks for selecting me to be part of the Longboat Key audit/review. What department(s) did you assign me to?

Ross P. Alander
Longboat Key

To: Ross Alander

You will be working with Planning & Zoning.

Phill Younger, commissioner
Longboat Key


Comp plan changes should be on ballot

To: Commissioner Phillip Younger

Why is an issue as important to the residents as changes to the Comprehensive Plan not put on the ballot so we can vote on it? Seems like the democratic thing to do.

Ellen Jacob
Longboat Key

To: Ellen Jacob

I realize that you, as am I, are concerned about our island. However, your message appears to have roots in what is happening with regard to the Vision Plan Committee, of which I am not a member, although I have attended many of the meetings due to my interest regarding the overall vitality and wellbeing of the key. It is my opinion this group of residents, town employees, and two commissioners are working diligently and conscientiously to review and update that plan, which is strictly a guideline, not a revision of the comp plan. As for what is transpiring at those meetings and the comp plan, someone is disseminating misleading information to you.

Phill Younger, commissioner
Longboat Key

To: Phill Younger

Wow, misleading info on Longboat. I’ll have to seriously consider that.

Ellen Jacob
Longboat Key

To: Commissioner David Brenner

Why can’t changes to the Comprehensive Plan be put on the ballot, so residents can vote on it?

Ellen Jacob
Longboat Key

To: Ellen Jacob

Thanks for your brief e-mail. Anything can be put on the ballot. The question is what level of detail would you like to see? Before we try to answer that question may I suggest you plan to attend upcoming meetings of the Planning & Zoning Board when they review proposed changes to the town’s comp plan. It will become apparent how complex the answer will be to a complicated question. Then we’ll all have a better chance to weigh in on the real question—at what level, if any, should residents vote on changes to the comp plan?

Dave Brenner, commissioner
Longboat Key

To: Commissioner David Brenner

I will try to do as you suggest. Thank you for your response.

Ellen Jacob
Longboat Key


Trolley troubles

To: Town Commission

I am not going to repeat all of the goods comments made by residents, such as Freda Perrotta, of the need for continued bus service on Longboat Key; however, as a reminder, although it had been indicated that SCAT was considering a reduction in service to Avenue of the Flowers/Bay Isles on an hourly basis, last night I suggested that Sarasota be urged to extend this to Bayfront Park, the county line, on an hourly basis. Service to the Hilton as they once provided would, of course, be more preferable, but to Bayfront Park would be a relatively minor extension of what they are thinking, and it would at least help get personnel who work at the Hilton and Sand Cay within a walkable distance to their jobs.

Although they would no longer would have a single bus service in cooperation with Sarasota, it would not appear unreasonable for Manatee to at least provide service on an hourly basis also to Bayfront Park, charging their higher rates, and allow that to be a transit exchange point. I realize that there are few passengers on any of the Longboat routes and there is no breakeven much less profit to be achieved; however, I am extremely disappointed to hear of Manatee’s intransigence and reluctance to consider any service on the Manatee County portion of the island, especially in lieu of the taxes Longboat pays to the county. It appears as if Manatee is, with their short timeframe, creating an environment to ensure failure for working anything anywhere close to reasonable out. And, thank you Sarasota, for your willingness to keep some service in place.

Phill Younger, commissioner
Longboat Key

To: Town Commission

The Sarasota County Commission made a motion to the effect that they will continue funding of the trolley until Dec. 31 2010, pending a similar commitment on the part of Manatee County following its upcoming budget hearing. The board requested a meeting with the Manatee County Commission and Longboat Key Town Commission prior to any additional further consideration.

We had requested a meeting with County Administrators Jim Ley and Ed Hunzeker based on the discussions at Manatee County this morning. It does not appear that this meeting can happen in the time allowed.

Because of the inability to meet with the two administrators it will not be feasible for staff to develop realistic service options and associated costs prior to the Manatee County Commission Budget Session scheduled for 6 p.m., Sept. 16.

We will discuss this further at the Special Meeting scheduled for 8 a.m., Sept. 16.

Bruce St. Denis, town manager
Longboat Key


Trolley response

To: Freda Perrotta

Thank you for your letter. I am also very concerned about the potential loss of service for Longboat Key. I plan to do everything possible to try to convince the Sarasota and Manatee County commissions to continue the bus service for our residents, workers and visitors. Longboat Key taxpayers provide a large portion of both county’s tax base and we should be able to depend on them to provide this service. For many years we have heard how important it is for us to use public transportation, but if it is only being provided sporadically we cannot depend on the service when it is needed. Please also send your letter to the commissioners of both Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Jim Brown, commissioner
Longboat Key


Cell tower misinformation

To: Longboat Key commissioners

In the Sept. 2, 2010, issue of the Longboat Observer, the “Our View” editorial on a cell tower on Longboat Key was very misleading. I want to bring these distortions to your attention.

1. “Longboat Key’s lousy north-end reception” is not lousy! We have lived on the North end for almost nine years and have never had problems with our cell phone reception nor have many of our neighbors.

2. Don’t underestimate how tall a “tacky and obtrusive” 150-foot fake palm or pine tree is! It would be at least three times the height of the Longboat Island Chapel steeple.

3. At the March 2010 PIC “Public Forum,” questions from the audience were welcome, but differing points of view were unwelcome and were not given the courtesy or opportunity to be presented.

4. Having Eatrides present a “Public Forum” to address public concerns is not helpful. This merely gives the cell tower salesman one more opportunity to sell his product. What is needed is for people of both sides to present their ideas, rather than having one side controlling the dialogue.

5. I agree with the statement that “In five years, cell towers are likely to be obsolete,” but to say that “When they are, take it down” is grossly misleading! The LBIC may have signed a five-year agreement, but if a lease is signed, there is usually a renewal clause for 20 to 25 years. Do you really think that Eatrides would invest a million-plus dollars to build a cell tower and then tear it down five years later?

6. …And by the way, the area surrounding the cell tower would be approximately a 40-foot by 50-foot fenced area. Not great for neighbors!

The solution lies in getting an impartial expert to come in and develop an island-wide plan for what the town should be doing for the next 10 years in communication technology. This may require an initial financial outlay by the town, but LBK is not a place where the “cheapest option” should be the deciding factor.

Anne Summers
Longboat Key


Country Club Shores V Entrance

To: Greg Watson

Hi Greg, hope you and your family had a nice summer since we are now in September! Where did it go? I spoke to the president of unit five yesterday, spoke with Juan Florenza and brought the subject up at the commission meeting last night.

I was assured that we still owed the contractor more than $1 million on the contract and the unit five entrance would be restored totally prior to final payment on the contract.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Lynn Larson, commissioner
Longboat Key

To: Commissioner Lynn Larson

Thanks for checking on this for me. I received a call from Juan on Tuesday, and I explained to him about the missing turn lane. Juan told me that the town had video of all the areas prior to the start of work and he is going to review them and take a look at the current situation. I hope to hear back from him with his findings.

Greg Watson
Longboat Key


Longboat Key development plan

To: Commissioners Phill Younger, David Brenner and Lynn Larson

As a homeowner on Longboat Key since 2002, my husband and I are greatly disturbed with the proposed zoning changes that the Vision Plan is attempting to incorporate. We bought property on Longboat Key because of its unique laid-back island characteristics. More intense development will greatly diminish the appeal of the island; create a greater traffic problem than already exists in the high rental season months; and last, but not least, more traffic, more people, denser population equals damage to the already beaten-up property values.

We strongly oppose the proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan. Please share this e-mail with all commissioners. The tax-paying homeowners need to have a voice in this matter, and it should be of greater importance than that of the developers who are only looking to increase their pocketbooks. Thank you.

Deborah B. Feldman CFP, president
Leonetti & Associates LLC

To: Deborah Feldman

I realize that you, as am I, are concerned about our island. However, your message appears to have roots in what is happening with regard to the Vision Plan Committee, of which I am not a member, although I have attended many of the meetings due to my interest regarding the overall vitality and wellbeing of the key. It is my opinion this group of residents, town employees, and two commissioners are working diligently and conscientiously to review and update that plan, which is strictly a guideline, not a revision of the comp plan. As for what is transpiring at those meetings and the comp plan, someone is disseminating misleading information to you.

Phill Younger, commissioner
Longboat Key

To: Deborah Feldman

Thanks for your e-mail. Your concerns are quite clear. You should know that the Vision Plan and the Comprehensive Plan are not the same thing. The Vision Plan is designed to be a framework upon which the comp plan is built. In any event before anything is adopted or amended, there will be public hearings for both plans. I urge you to keep an eye on the town’s Web site for the schedule of meetings of the Planning and Zoning Board and Town Commission. It will give you an opportunity to participate in the process well before anything is adopted.

Dave Brenner, commissioner
Longboat Key


Comprehensive Plan concern

To: Town Commission

I am writing to you to express my concern with making any significant changes to the comprehensive plan of Longboat Key. Longboat Key has been such a desirable community, because it has maintained its upscale style and has not succumbed to becoming a beach area where tourists walk barefoot along the streets. We bought into this community because it had a controlled development plan and was going to maintain that type of style.

Upscale areas like Scarsdale, N.Y., Greenwich, Conn., etc., have not lowered their standards to weather a storm. And they will remain exclusive and desirable because they are exclusive. In the long run, this type of thinking will benefit Longboat.

I understand that the economy is awful, it is awful all over. But we should not jump to make development changes that we will really, really regret later. And as I know you have heard this many times, you can’t take things back once they are in the ground.

So please keep Longboat Key as a residential area. We have lived here 11 years. We don’t want a slew of stores or developments. We do not want to be a major tourist area. Leave that for Siesta Key and St. Armands Key. We want peace and beauty.

Barbara Chase
Longboat Key

To: Barbara Chase

Thanks for your e-mail. My wife and I have lived here fulltime for almost 12 years and part-time for many years before that. Our reasons for picking and staying on Longboat are much the same as yours.

Unfortunately, change has occurred here in that time span. The mechanism for attempting to control that change is through the Comprehensive Plan. Any adjustments contemplated must go through the Planning & Zoning Board which process includes public hearings. The next step is to go through the Town Commission, also including public hearings. I urge you to participate in those hearings when they take place, presumably this fall. The plan needs to reflect the thoughts of all concerned citizens.

Dave Brenner, commissioner
Longboat Key

To: Town Commission

Any changes to vision plan should be reviewed by the residents of Longboat Key and be put to a vote of the residents.

Bob Appel, president
Longbeach Condominiums


Cell towers

To: Town Manager Bruce St. Denis

Thank you very much for fitting me into your schedule Friday. I was pleased to be able to tell you how worried we are about the possible high cell tower and the dreadful effect such a tower could have on the ambience of the key and on property values. We believe that such a tower is not needed, that there are better solutions to individual problems and that some of these solutions could be applied immediately. Not only would such a tower cost Longboat Key property owners millions of dollars, but it would be bad for business in that it would diminish the attraction of the key as a good and safe place to visit family or to buy a retirement home, and it would make it a less pleasant, less safe place to take a vacation or to visit relatives.

It was a helpful thought that a statement could be made to the commission or that a letter could be written. You may be expecting this at the Monday evening meeting of the commission. However our neighborhood group felt that these sorts of contacts with the commission members could better come after we have obtained more independent expert advice and information.

I am sure we shall be in touch again, and I am sure that both you and the commission have the interests of the taxpayers and citizens of the key foremost in your minds.

P.S. I have checked and there is a femtocell appropriate for Verizon users.

P.P.S. It might amuse you to know that I visited my son in Carlisle, Mass., a suburb of Boston, over the weekend, and found that I could not use my Verizon telephone because there was no signal. My son uses another carrier.

Ron Platt
Longboat Key


PBA Contract

To: Town Commission

Dennis Silverio and I signed off on a proposed contract with the Police Benevolent Association today. The next step is for the proposed contract to go for a ratification vote before the bargaining unit members. If they ratify the contract it will be brought to the Town Commission for your consideration. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Bruce St. Denis, town manager
Longboat Key

To: Town Manager Bruce St. Denis

Thanks for the update. Well done.

Bob Siekmann, commissioner
Longboat Key


Firefighter’s forensic audit update

To: Town Commission

Bruce has requested that I provide you with the following information:

As you are aware, the Firefighter’s Pension Board issued a RFP for a forensic audit of the Pension Fund since inception in 1999 (when the three pension plans were split). A Special Meeting is scheduled for today, Sept. 15 at 4 p.m., to review the responses to the RFP.

The pension attorney, Robert Sugarman, issued the RFP to five vendors, as follows:
• Benchmark Financial
• Gabriel, Roeder, and Smith (GRS)
• Bolton Partners
• Milliman
• Martin E. Segal

Subsequent to receipt of the RFP from the attorney’s office, Benchmark Financial and Bolton Partners contacted them and declined to participate in the bid.

The deadline for submission for the remaining firms was Sept. 13, 2010, at 5 p.m. The Finance Office, liaison to the Pension Board, advised that the remaining entities failed to submit a response to the RFP by the deadline.

The Firefighter’s Pension Board and attorney were made aware of the situation regarding the lack of response. The Pension Board chairman, Keith Tanner, requested that the meeting scheduled be held. The Attorney’s office (Sugarman & Susskind) and a representative from the Investment Advisor’s Group, Morgan Stanley, intend to participate in the meeting via telephone connection.

At this time, the town is not aware of what will be discussed or determined at this meeting due to the lack of responsive bidders, but wanted to ensure that you were made aware of the circumstances as they currently exist.

If you have any questions, please give Bruce a call. If you would like to attend the Pension Board Special Meeting, it will be held in the Commission Chamber today at 4 p.m. The meeting is a published meeting open to the public.

Trish Granger, town clerk

Longboat Key

To: Town Manager Bruce St. Denis

On Wednesday, September 15, 2010, at a special meeting, the Firefighter’s Pension Board voted to have drawn and be issued a contract to Benchmark Financial at a cost of $50,000 to conduct a “fiduciary” investigation of past occurrences and decisions relative to the Firefighter’s Pension Fund. Terms of this contract were to be developed in accordance with a letter presented by firefighter union members on the board, of which there are three out of five board members. Since this $50,000 would come directly from pension funds and since pension-funding shortfalls must eventually come from Longboat Key taxpayers, several legal issues come into question that require answers:

1. Is the Firefighters Pension Board authorized to spend pension funds or any town funds regardless of the amount, whether it is $5, $50,000, or $5 million, for any purpose than other retirement benefits and investments for retirement benefits?

2. Can the Firefighter’s Pension Board “cherry pick” a particular entity to perform any such function, as apparently occurred at the above said meeting, or must they, as a public body, without following legally established RFP procedures, especially since a prior RFP approved by the Firefighters Pension Board for a then termed “forensic” investigation that was released in February 2010, with an expiration date of September 13, 2010, resulted in no parties bidding for performance, including the now “cherry picked” entity under differing auspices?

3. Can the Firefighter’s Pension Board approve any contract that is worded in such a matter as to focus entirely on town activities, to the exclusion of Firefighters Pension Board decisions?

4. Is the effort by the Firefighters Pension Board to do as stated above in accordance with their fiduciary responsibilities?

I would appreciate it if our town legal counsel would address these questions.

Phill Younger, commissioner
Longboat Key


Parting thoughts

To: All town employees

After more than 25 years of service with the town, I have never felt so disconnected, disrespected or disparaged as recently. During my tenure I have dislocated my shoulder falling into an elevator shaft at the Veltman fire, had two line of duty surgically treated knee injuries, a line of duty quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery, spent six weeks with daily nausea and vomiting due to AIDS cocktail meds and several anxious years until a line of duty significant AIDS exposure was found negative. In some ways I feel that I’ve given an arm, a leg, my heart and the blood that courses through it to the service of the town and its citizens.

But I’m not the only one. Others throughout the town and its various departments have given of themselves, put themselves in harm’s way and served the citizenry. Throughout the years the loyalties shown were at least reciprocated with an appreciation dinner and big raise every six or seven years. Thankfully the Firefighter’s Union was always at the forefront instigating the studies and surveys that revealed pay and benefit shortcomings. Fortunately for all employees, riding our coattails got town-wide adjustments.

But now employees are not appreciated, invaluable assets. Now the same employees who have always performed their jobs under the promise of equitable pay and benefits are vilified and considered overpaid with lavish, undeserved benefits. Oddly, most of which have been partially paid for by the employees themselves. Threats of layoffs, benefit reductions and pay cuts have been gleefully promoted by the town manager, the commission and one mullet wrapper. Virtually no raises, no step increases, pension threats and insurance hikes have been the norm for four years with little relief in sight. Promises and contracts arbitrarily ignored and broken. Budget shortfalls blamed upon and taken off the backs of employees. Will it end? Hopefully yes, but realistically?

The town’s government has hopped the bandwagon of other municipalities, who actually are cash strapped, to withhold benefits that were promised as an employment package and to attempt to renege on documented signed contracts and agreements. It is the employees who are under siege from a community that supposedly “appreciates all that we do.” I love the fire service and have willingly exposed myself to its dangers and potential outcomes. Saving lives and protecting the public is its own reward. But sometimes personal inflection and desire to serve can’t overcome the misery of overbearing, threatening governance.

I would encourage all employees to follow the Fire and Police lead and organize. Without the union contracts it has been revealed that the town would have acted unilaterally and removed or reduced benefits with little or feigned concern of the affect on employees. Personally, think of me with the classic Johnny Paycheck song in my heart. Goodbye.

Michael Murphy
Longboat Key Fire Department


Mosque column

To: Columnist Dan Dowd

Read your article in Longboat Key News and want to thank you. Surprising that no mention of your facts have been in any paper or TV. Glad this paper printed your article.

Solo and Jim Schiffman
Sarasota


Town attorney recommends comprehensive plan update

To: Town residents

According to an article in this week’s Longboat Key News, Town Attorney David Persson says the commission needs to update the Comprehensive Plan to clarify future land use for developers and residents. He says that if this had been done prior to the Key Club’s application, a lot of time and money could have been saved by all concerned.

It is most unfortunate that Mr. Persson did not make this point more forcefully at the start of the public hearing process. While he did indicate then that it would be the safest route, the commission elected to move forward with the hearings in spite of his suggestion.

All Longboat residents should be disturbed by the Town Commission’s decision that has led to expense of hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Key Club, IPOC and the town. The debate on what is appropriate for the key’s future could have taken place in an administrative public review of the plan, instead of the courts, as is now the case.

Make no mistake, the commission will endeavor to turn the greatly flawed Vision Plan into a mandate for changes to the Comprehensive Plan that will permit more intense development on the Key, in keeping with their personal agenda and their unsupported claim that this is what Longboaters want. A Comprehensive Plan change will undoubtedly have much broader impact than the zoning changes, intensity and code departures that have been foisted on Islandside residents by the commission’s recent decisions.

Residents who want to maintain Longboat as a primarily upscale residential community should make sure that your views are known to our commissioners, before they take us down the path to a sea-change in the island’s character.

Bob White, president
Islandside Property Owners Coalition LLC


Trolley service

To: Town Manager Bruce St. Denis

Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) and Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) have jointly operated the Longboat Key Trolley since June 2008. The current level of service is every 30 minutes until 10:30 p.m., seven days a week and on holidays. Sarasota County is responsible for two-thirds of the funding.

A Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) grant enabling MCAT to provide and fund their portion of this service ended in August 2010. The Manatee County Commission has approved additional funding to operate the trolley until the end of September 2010.

Based on ridership statistics and funding shortfalls, MCAT staff recommended to the Manatee County Commission the discontinuation of their portion of the service. The Manatee County Commission will make a final decision during their fiscal year 2010-2011 budget hearings later this month.

SCAT staff is recommending to the Sarasota County Commission that they continue funding a portion of the trolley and has prepared options to continue providing reduced service. Some of these options include reducing the headway from 30 minutes to 90 minutes while maintaining the entire span [to Coquina Beach] of the route. Another scenario would be to operate only to Bay Isles Road with a 60-minute headway. All options have substantial budget and operational implications if Manatee County does not continue funding this service. The Sarasota County Commission will be making a final decision later this month as well.

Discussions with Manatee County staff lead me to believe that these funding shortfalls and resultant level of service reductions are almost inevitable. Please let me know if you need additional information.

Juan J. Florensa
Public Works director
Longboat Key

To: Town Manager Bruce St. Denis

So we are working from a factual base, can we invite our larger employers to the commission meeting to speak on this subject and perhaps they can bring stats about the trolley ridership of their employee base. This would include the town as a large employer of non-key residents. Obviously, we don’t want to make an argument if it’s not true.

Dave Brenner, commissioner
Longboat Key

To: David Brenner

Understood Commissioner. We have been making those points in our discussions. From their side they argue that they are making decisions based on ridership and cost effectiveness of the routes. The fact that we are in two counties is not helping in this case.

Bruce St. Denis, town manager
Longboat Key

To: Town Manager Bruce St. Denis

It is understood that the current economic situation is not good, but any action to eliminate service on Longboat Key is a significant deterrent to getting workers here, not to mention those tourists who use the service. I guess we need to remind the counties that we foot a substantial part of their budgets and any such cut should be considered countywide, not just here.

Dave Brenner, commissioner
Longboat Key


Town board education completed

To: Town Commission

I wanted to advise you that all commission-appointed citizens to the following town boards have completed their Sunshine and public records educational sessions and are in compliance with Ordinance 2010-09:

• Planning and Zoning Board

• Zoning Board of Adjustment

• Code Enforcement Board

• Citizens’ Tax Oversight

• Firefighters, General, and Police Officers Pension Boards

Additionally, all new hires by the town also receive educational sessions on the Sunshine and public records laws from the Town Clerk’s Office during their employee orientation.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Trish Granger, town clerk
Longboat Key


Vision Plan document

To: Vision Plan subcommittee members

At the conclusion of the subcommittee meeting this week, there was a short discussion regarding the appendix of the plan. At one time it was decided by the subcommittee that the appendix should remain as part of the document as a historic reference for readers to understand what was considered at the original writing of the plan document in 2007. However, at this week’s meeting there seemed to be some agreement that the appendix should be removed for the final Vision Plan document.

There was also a question regarding the appendix and how one would deal with any conflicts between current facts or data and the content of the appendix. After the meeting, both Ric and I reviewed the appendix section and do not believe the potential conflicts exist—the text of the appendix is fact-based and provides a valid history, as well as data and analysis.

Originally, the content within the appendix was part of the main portion of the Vision Plan document, but as the document evolved, it was realized that the information being provided was important, but the authors of the Vision Plan did not want to bog down the “meat” of the document—so, the appendix was created.

Since the majority of the focus has been on the first two sections of the plan and the goals and strategies, I would ask the subcommittee read or re-read the appendix portion of the plan for discussion Tuesday.

Additionally, below are some thoughts from Commissioner Brenner. As always, please do not respond to this e-mail to all of the subcommittee members. “Discussion” must be limited to the public meetings. Thank you, and have a great weekend.

Monica Simpson, director
Planning, Building and Zoning Department
Longboat Key

To: Director, Planning, Building and Zoning Department Monica Simpson

Please share these thoughts with the committee. Your observations would be appreciated, too.

I believe the title should be changed to reflect the environment that exists today. Secondly, there needs to be a document, which provides a transition for the reader from the original plan to this revision. It could be in the form of a preamble. My recommendation borrows liberally from Bob Gault’s suggestions.

The updated plan title might be:

“Longboat Key Renewed: A Plan for reinvigorating our town over the next 20 years.”

The preamble might read as follows:

The original Vision Plan was delivered in the fall of 2007 and reflected work begun in 2005. This revision is being delivered in the fall of 2010. The outlook for the future by the original drafters was much more upbeat than that of the current reviewers. In the intervening five years the Great Recession has cast a decidedly negative shadow over our current view of the future.

The fundamentals underlying the revision have not changed from the original, however. They are common sense strategies and tactics, which preserve and promote Longboat Key to the benefit of existing and future residents and businesses with broad based input from our citizens. These fundamentals or core values are: create and reinforce a welcoming community and government atmosphere and promote a common sense approach to managing the mix of resident, commercial and visitor use.

The Vision Plan is intended to be the framework for our leaders within which comment and deliberations on decisions effecting our future would be made.

Since any decision-making process benefits from an historic context, we have included the Appendix from the original Vision Plan. When looking to the future, it’s useful to know where we’ve come from.

I’ll see you on Tuesday. Have a good holiday.

Dave Brenner, commissioner
Longboat Key


Entrance to Country Club Shores V

To: Commissioner Lynn Larson

I hope you’re getting ready for a great Labor Day weekend. I know that we’re looking forward to some downtime.

I spoke to you a while back about the missing right turn lane for the entrance at Country Club Shores V. I read a while ago that a new repaving project is scheduled and perhaps that is when the turn lane will be replaced. However, with the season approaching, I think we should have the contractors that dug up the road repair and replace the lane before someone gets rear-ended trying to turn into the subdivision. I would think that LBK should be able to have the water contractors that dug up the road pay for this as part of their original contract.

Please let me know what you find out about this. Thanks and have a great weekend.

Greg Watson
Longboat Key

Thanks Greg, and a good Labor Day to you too.

Lynn Larson, commissioner
Longboat Key

To: Director Public Works Juan Florensa

Hi Juan. We spoke about this entrance some time ago. Would you please see what can be done about this, as it is a safety issue? Hope you had a great Labor Day!

Lynn Larson, commissioner
Longboat Key


FOLK blog

To: Peter O’Connor

I have reactivated the Friends of Longboat Key (FOLK) blog. Please e-mail your friends and neighbors. We need an open forum to counter the danger of closed government that excludes the silent majority in favor of a circle for “like-minded” friends.

There are more than 20,000 residents on Longboat Key. Let’s not relinquish our rights by being inactive. Please speak your mind and be heard. I will include all thought-out ideas and topics on the blog as people submit them to me. I look forward to lively debate and lots of information and facts.

Gene Jaleski
Longboat Key


St. Armand’s Circle traffic work session

To: Vice Mayor James Brown and Public Works Director Juan Florensa

Following a discussion at the March 22 MPO Board meeting, a work session took place with the St. Armand’s Circle Association, elected officials and staff of the city of Sarasota, Longboat Key, FDOT and other stakeholders regarding traffic issues at St. Armand Circle, along with pedestrian crosswalks and parking on the circle during peak hours. FDOT staff listened to each of the concerned stakeholders and agreed to review all suggestions and comments.

A follow-up work session has now been scheduled for 10 a.m., Sept. 24, 2010, at the Sarasota Federal Building, 111 South Orange Ave., Room ABC. I hope you or a designee is able to attend to participate in this important discussion. Please let me know if you’ll be attending. I look forward to hearing from you and greatly appreciate any assistance you can offer.

Robert M. Herrington, planning manager
Sarasota/Manatee MPO

To: Bob Herrington

As you may recall, the entire Longboat Key Town Commission as well as the town manager and public works director attended the last meeting regarding the St. Armands Circle traffic. We are extremely interested in this matter, as it greatly affects our resident commute on and off the key.

Unfortunately, due to our previous commitment to attend the Florida Beaches & Shores Conference in Clearwater on Sept. 24, we will not be able to attend your meeting. I had recently called Mike Howe asking when the follow-up meeting would be held.

As a result of this conflict, I would like to request that you consider changing the date of your meeting to allow for our attendance.

Jim Brown, vice mayor
Longboat Key

To: Vice Mayor Jim Brown

We most definitely need the representatives of the Longboat Key Town Commission and staff in attendance at the meeting. To ensure representation from each of the interested jurisdictions, I am attempting to reschedule the meeting. Once I receive the dates that the meeting room at the Sarasota Federal Building is available, I will forward the dates and times to all elected officials and staff for their concurrence. Again, thank you for your continued assistance with this important issue.

Robert M. Herrington, planning manager
Sarasota/Manatee MPO

To: Bob Herrington

Thanks for the update. Many of the town commissioners as well as Juan and I are scheduled to be at a conference on that morning and most likely will not be unable to attend.

Bruce St. Denis, town manager
Longboat Key


Removed from consideration

To: Town Commission

Commissioner Brenner has advised that David Gutridge has removed himself for consideration of a position as interviewer. He has, however, expressed interest in applying for a position on one of the town’s retirement system boards.

Susan Phillips, assistant to town manager
Longboat Key


Flooding needs to be resolved

I will be attending the commissioner’s meeting Monday night, Sept. 13. I would like to see the flooding in front of my home be resolved. Due to any kind of rain, be heavy or light, we become flooded and are unable to walk out of our house. This huge problem has been going on since we moved here in 1997. Thank you for your time and consideration in the above serious matter.

Cemalettin Duzgun
Longboat Key


Subcommittee recommendations

To: Town Commission and Planning, Building and Zoning Director Monica Simpson

Following are possible recommendations for the Town Commission taken from my notes and from minutes of past meetings. I think there was one more that came up at the Sept. 1 meeting, but I failed to make note of it.

These recommendations arose from the Vision Plan review subcommittee meetings:

• The Chamber of Commerce, along with Dick Pelton, David Miller and volunteers with survey experience, will prepare a survey to keep the town informed of what residents, visitors, business owners and customers want; and that the town, with the commission approval, conduct a survey to establish a base line with subsequent surveys to provide feedback on Vision Plan goals.

• Longboat Key should create a Web site to present the approved Vision Plan, using as a possible model the example for Downtown Sarasota, as presented to us by Commissioner Brenner.

• Create a beautification committee to coordinate a more uniform planting along Gulf of Mexico Drive and to work with the Longboat Key Club when they provide a landscape proposal for the entrances to Longboat Key. Possible members: Garden Club volunteers, a landscape architect such as Al Hixon, Steve Shield.

• The Vision Plan review subcommittee should become a standing committee to periodically monitor the progress of the goals and strategies in the updated Vision Plan.

Patricia Zunz
Planning and Zoning Board
Longboat Key


Hats off

To: Hal Lenobel

When did it begin that the PGA players remove their caps before shaking hands with their fellow players and caddies after putting out on the 18th hole? I trust it’s to show respect for each other. Are the caddies expected to remove their caps, as well? If so, a good number don’t. Thanks.

Nick Kovalakides
Longboat Key

To Nick:

The removal of caps at the conclusion of a round of golf began in Scotland more than 100 years ago. In addition, until the 1940s, players wore ties during play and many wore knickers. Tour players are not permitted to wear shorts, but caddies are. Caddies are not required to don a cap; that is up to the individual.

Hal Lenobel
Longboat Key


Whitney Beach Plaza corrections

To: Al Green

I’ve just read your article in the Aug. 27 edition of Longboat Key News regarding the Whitney Beach shopping center. I am not sure where you got your facts pertaining to the previous owner of the liquor store before writing this article, but I am sure that they did not come from my father-in-law, Ray LaFlamme.

The facts are that not only did he own and run a successful liquor store but also the cocktail lounge that was housed in the same building. Ray did not “simply close down and leave” because he wanted to retire. He sold the businesses to Andrew Hlywa and Dawn di Lorenzo. They obviously bought the liquor license from Ray, as well.

I suggest that you correct these untruths in some fashion, and that your editor pay closer heed to articles before publication so that these misrepresentations of facts do not happen in the future.

Lissy LaFlamme
Longboat Key


Town staff review subcommittee

To: Commissioner George Spoll

George, I hope your summer is going well. After some consideration, I want to apply for a position on the panel of experts looking at town government operations.

Before I resigned from the commission I occupied the seat now held by Commissioner Younger. I have a career in business engineering and applying technology to business operations and procedures. While I was on the commission I studied several departments and areas of operation.

My recommendations led to expanding information availability on the town’s Web site, strengthening the town’s cell tower codes, taking a closer look at north-end beach management and helped bring about a shift in budget reporting practices.

I have been actively involved in our community affairs for more than 20 years, and I believe I can contribute to the current evaluation of the town government.

Gene Jaleski
Longboat Key

To: Gene Jaleski

Ross forwarded your e-mail. I’m glad to see you have a strong interest in the town’s operations. We’ll take your thoughts into consideration as we proceed. You’d also be pleased to know that the citizen volunteers are dedicated and knowledgeable and are not encumbered by local politics. Simply, their interest is in making Longboat Key a better place.

Dave Brenner, commissioner
Longboat Key


Town staff review

To: Commissioner David Brenner

I just read the article in the Longboat Key News by Steve Reid on the organizational review. Questions:

Does everyone understand that this audit is being completed to improve/enhance on what the Longboat Key staff is already doing very well, the good to great thing?

Do the managers understand what the review is about and that it isn’t about micro managing?

Bruce needs to be very visible through all of this and should take ownership.

Do the employees understand what the review is about and that they will be involved?

How about forming a task force for service excellence/productivity improvement/organizational renewal-effectiveness of employees at the start of the process for both buy in and creating a feeling of ownership as I mentioned earlier so it is a employee/staff-based project with Bruce’s leadership? This I believe may reduce the micro-managing acquisitions.

Just some thoughts.

Ross P. Alander
Longboat Key

To: Commissioners David Brenner, Lynn Larson and Phill Younger

Thanks so much for meeting with me. I felt it went well other than my foot in my mouth on my Delta comments, sorry Phill (I will tell you sometime from where I got all that).

I really more than ever want to be involved in this project. Here are a couple of things that I meant to mention:

1. A couple older but good books on the public sector are “Reinventing Government” and “We Don’t Make Widgets.”

2. Let’s be careful about “Best Practices” as that only makes you “as good as”…not better.

3. Our objective should/could be on “How to Accomplish Extraordinary Things with Ordinary People,” a Stanford DVD.

4. Let’s think out of the box as Lynn said.

5. I teach Organizational Assessment (see attached example of a student assignment).

6. Perhaps after we are done, Longboat Key could have a regular employee-based group including the unions’ task force, quality circle, committee, or whatever on Longboat Key service—productivity improvement quality circle.

7. It is important to involve people up front in change and solicit their ideas as you discussed. I did this for example with Hillsborough Kids.

Just some thoughts. Thanks again.

Ross P. Alander
Longboat Key


Goals, objectives comparison

To: Vision Plan review subcommittee members

Please find below a link to the town of Surfside, Fla., specifically directing you to their Comprehensive Plan. Of interest is their Future Land Use Element (FLUE) – Goals, Policies, and Objective (GOPs) (starting on noted page 1-10, literally page 15 of the PDF through page 23). This plan came recommended to David Persson and me as an example of a smaller community that shared characteristics of Longboat Key. But, more importantly for the exercise of the Vision Plan review subcommittee, the plan’s GOPs include an appropriate level of specificity and are non-dictatorial in manner.

I have not personally read any other section of their plan, and therefore, cannot endorse or comment upon any section other than the FLUE GOPs.

We wanted to provide you this document in advance of Wednesday’s meeting so that you are familiar with the style. I will have hardcopies of this section for each of you at the meeting.

Monica Simpson, director
Planning, Zoning and Building Department
Longboat Key


Bike lanes, bus shelters and palm trees

To: Commissioner Lynn Larson

There are several issues with how the federal grant money was spent on Longboat.

First a bus shelter truly should have been designed to meet the ambiance of Longboat Key. Over the last month I have seen people soaked due to no cover for them waiting for the bus.

Second: the bike lane on Longboat. The line should be painted a different color. Florescent Purple should be the designated color for bicycle lanes. Not only for Longboat but the whole state of Florida.

Last, those palm trees across from the Chart House. When those trees get bigger, it will block the beautiful view of the bay. Very poor decision-making on the planting of those palm trees and the quantity of them.

Thank you for your time in this matter.

Elizabeth M. Sullivan
Longboat Key

To: Elizabeth Sullivan

I will pass your comments along to all members of the commission for discussion as we resume meetings soon. I, as well as other commissioners, do share concerns about this project. Thank you for your time.

Lynn Larson, commissioner
Longboat Key

To: Commissioner Lynn Larson

In regard to the color of the bike lane. Having a specific color other than orange, yellow or white, such as a florescent purple, makes it stand out and say this is a bike lane. Thank you for your wonderful response to my e-mail. It is something that should be discussed.

Elizabeth M. Sullivan
Longboat Key

To: Elizabeth Sullivan

Will do. And I agree if we can bring recognition to bike lanes, we can help make people safe.

Lynn Larson, commissioner
Longboat Key


Armstrong inquiry

To: Susan Phillips

Susan, can you send Monica’s e-mail with the attachment to the Town Commission together with my e-mail? I hear that Mr. Armstrong is calling commissioners frequently, and I’d like to let them know what is going on.

David Persson, town attorney
Longboat Key


Armstrong building permit

To: Mr. Armstrong

Please find attached the plan review comments from the Planning, Zoning and Building Department of the town of Longboat Key. Specifically you will find building, zoning, electrical and mechanical plans review comments. The Fire Department’s fire marshal has no comments, and plumbing is a trade that is not involved at this time.

If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact the specific staff person directly involved in the review of the building permit application materials.

Monica Simpson, director
Planning, Zoning and Building Department
Longboat Key

To: Mr. Armstrong

This e-mail is in response to yours of last week addressed to me and the town manager. I have been waiting until there was a review of your building permit application prior to responding, since resolution of these pending matters is of great importance. This is because I believe it is appropriate for you to resolve these issues as ordered by the Code Enforcement Board prior to addressing the matter with the Town Commission.

My recommendation is that once this matter is resolved, and if you believe that you were unfairly or improperly treated by employees of the town, you address this concern with the town manager. The town manger is the town’s chief administrative official. If the town manager does not address the matter to your satisfaction, you may present it to the town commission. That can be done many ways; the simplest is by addressing the town commission under “public comment.” Comment is limited to three minutes. It is my hope that you are able to resolve these matters promptly.

David Persson, town attorney
Longboat Key

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1 Response for “Longboat Key Letters – September 2010”

  1. Hi there, nice page however there is a problem whereby on occassion I get redirected to the main page when I view different topics within your web page.

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