2010 year in review: Vision Plan takes center stage

CREDIT: Jack Elka

A re-examination by subcommittee of the Vision Plan originally accepted in November 2007 began this year, and the outcome will ultimately determine the future of Longboat Key.

From 2005 through 2007, a series of Town Hall-type meetings and mail surveys were conducted by a consultant company, Arrington-Marlowe, to determine what the residents of Longboat Key thought the community should look like in the future.

A new subcommittee began examining and revising the Vision Plan this year. Members of the subcommittee are Commissioner David Brenner, Dick Pelton, Planning and Zoning Board member George Symanski, Commissioner Jim Brown and Planning and Zoning Board member Patricia Zunz. Commissioner Brenner was the chairman of the original Vision Plan committee and ran in the March 2010 election with the idea of adopting the Vision Plan as part of town policy, much like the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

In the updated draft of the Vision Plan, the document states the objective as: “The challenge and opportunity is to manage change in ways that retain, reinvigorate, retain or enhance the quality, the distinctiveness, the culture and the lifestyle that make Longboat Key so special. The purpose of the Vision Plan is to anticipate longer-term trends and issues, while dealing with short-term factors that will impact the key and propose strategies that will ensure Longboat Key remains a high quality residential community.”

At a subcommittee meeting this year, Pelton noted that the idea of “Keeping Longboat, Longboat,” means different things to different people. Residents who visited or bought property in 1987 will remember a different Longboat Key than those who visited or bought property in 1998.

Zunz has discussed options for the renovation of Publix, particularly the creation of a town square. Zunz has stated that if designed correctly, the area between Publix and the tennis center could be purchased by the town and turned into green space for a park. This, Zunz said, would encourage those at the tennis center to walk over to Publix and other businesses at the Avenue of the Flowers.

Also at one of the subcommittee meetings, Symanski discussed the Comprehensive Plan and what should be considered upon its review as well. Among the topics for consideration of the Comprehensive Plan review were the Longboat Key Club renovation plan, what should be done with the Publix plaza and Avenue of the Flowers, Whitney Beach Plaza, the Colony and the Hilton with regard to whether it will want to apply for the available 250 units.

An excerpt from the tourism section of the Vision Plan states, “At its core, Longboat Key is not a typical tourist community, but tourism is an important part of the economy, which supports retail services, real estate and restaurants, beach renourishment and other quality of life features of the town. Many Longboat Key residents first came to Longboat Key as tourists or visitors. Tourism is part of the town’s history. This plan proposes that it continue to be part of its future.”

Another aspect of the Vision Plan is the retail or commercial amenities on the island and is addressed in the following excerpt: “Concerned residents want two things to occur with the commercial or retail sector of the town. First, they would like to see improvements made to existing physical facilities. By this, they mean that too many of the existing commercial facilities look either dated or poorly maintained. Second, they would like to see: expansions of some current businesses such as a larger Publix; vacant stores filled with additional services that would reduce the need to go off the key such as health care services, bookstores, computer repair and supply services, and clothing stores.”

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