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Brown and Grossman

PETER O’CONNOR
Contributing Columnist
oconnor@lbknews.com

I had not intended to get into the specific races for Longboat Key Town Commission, at least not yet.  But I note two profiles in a recent edition of our pages, on Jim Brown and on Larry Grossman.  A bit of what I read about each of these gentlemen cries out for discussion,   Opinion is what we do.

Brown says the future of Longboat Key and where it is going,  are on his agenda. “The key is aging rapidly and you cannot ignore that, and one of the main problems is getting people to recognize it; and this commission is trying to solve that. There’s a problem with getting people to recognize that the key needs to be kept up. Most of the key was built before 1980, and the Comprehensive Plan was written in 1984, which means as soon as the plan was written, most of the buildings were immediately not up to code. We need to recognize that and make them better,” said Brown.  (Melissa Reid, LBK NEWS 1/21/13)

I was struck by the use of the term “aging rapidly.”  I recall that I once lived in a fine house, on the water, in Cohasset,  Massachusetts which was built in 1796.  It was warm in winter, sunny in summer, and adequate to our needs.  Earlier I lived I a brand new tent for a year on Grand Turk in the West Indies.  Maybe it was aging. In my experience I’ve lived in a solid barracks in Puerto Rico, an older French villa in Danang, Vietnam, lovely quarters in Keyport, Washington, a newer house in Cohasset, a condominium here, and now my current home in the Bayou here.  All of these were contemporary to time and place.  Few of them were aging.  All were maintained to their function; none other than the 16X16 tent needed to be replaced.  The 1796 house is still occupied.  Clearly properties should be kept up.  Replacement is not usually necessary.  Maybe that’s why people don’t recognize Jim’s aging comment.

I also noted Brown’s comment that since most of the key was built before 1980, while the Comprehensive Plan was written in 1984 most of the buildings were immediately not up to code with the writing of that Plan.   I’d suggest that most of the buildings may then have been not up to Plan, not Code.  There is not any attempt to revise structures to bring them into compliance with new/rewritten codes – say building codes.  We did not rewire America with the publication of the latest National Electric Code.   Brown says  that “we need to make them better.”  Just who needs to make us better?  I guess that is the question for the voters.

Larry Grossman takes a bit different approach.  He says that there needs to be a town-wide plan that balances the needs of residential and tourism.  Sounds like a good start.  As far as looking into the future of Longboat Key, Grossman says there needs to be a town-wide plan that balances the needs of residential and tourism.

“Zoning without planning is like a boat without a rudder, you never know were you’re going to end up. This is why I’m entering the commission, not just from being in planning, but planning in a general sense is finding out where the community wants to go. Balancing tourism and the residential community is what the town needs to figure out how this should work,” said Grossman.

(Melissa Reid, LBK NEWS 1/21/13)

I think that I remember learning at the Graduate School of Design that zoning was a method of enforcing planning, a tool as it were.  I think that Larry gets that.

He does talk about “it makes it easier for the developer.”  That line might require a bit more explanation and fleshing out as we approach the election.

Both of these fellows, Jim and Larry, are experienced professionals.  Each has graduate training in Planning.   That’s good.  Jim has a record in recent local events. That record may or may not be that which our voters want to continue.  Larry has seen what has happened here.  I see him offering himself as an agent of change.

Longboaters should listen very carefully to these two candidates.  Neither seems to be shy about sharing his views.  We are not likely to see two more qualified candidates soon.  Pay attention, and be sure to vote.

Advantage:  Grossmann

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