Election 2013 Town Commission

Guest Columnists

The upcoming election does not inspire the fervor that comes when candidates with enthusiastic adherents square away. The excitement that is generated when a guy like David Brenner is in the race.  Not that Brenner is a bad guy but he does represent a point of view that does get one’s hairs’ on edge

However, the issue that created that buzz is still on the table in this coming election. That issue is what is the best path for Longboat Key into the future?

I will admit that in my opinion having watched this for thirty years, the question is really moot. I don’t think that anything the Town Commission does will change the way the Key develops in the long run but it will complicate the near term.

Longboat Key’s destiny is to be an upscale residential community. There is no way that any change in town codes will make it different.

However, by trying to move the direction in favor of more tourism and commercial development, the changes in codes are hurting the more natural expansion in that direction and delaying the outcome.

Therefore, it is imperative that the candidacy of Pastor, Grossman and Jaleski be successful.

I acknowledge that my suggestions are motivated by my feeling that what has been going on for the past five years, be reversed and doesn’t take into account of personalities. I am especially sorry to not be able to recommend my old friend Jim Brown, a gentleman of great integrity and intelligence but I feel his thinking is guided more by his previous work history rather than the situation on the ground.

The country has just been though a real estate calamity that has decimated the financial well being of its citizens. When you look around the country and you review the results, one thing stands out over all else. The communities that depend upon the wealthy, that sell to the wealthy, that appeal to the wealthy, fell less far and have recovered more quickly.

It might not make you comfortable to admit it but the rich are getting richer and Longboat Key will do well as long as it continues to appeal to this segment of the society.

Longboat Key is for all intents and purposes, a gated community. Like it or not, luxury housing and a luxury environment is the place to put your money.

I can hear Kit Fernald turning in her grave but the Rec Centre and the public beaches are not where it is.  My old house in Emerald Harbor is worth more because the Holiday Inn has been replaced by an upscale condo and the multi million dollar single family homes that replaced the older tourist spots make the surrounding properties worth more.

That is why it is so important that the new people take over the Town Commission.

The traffic that would have been created by the Key Club expansion would have driven these people away.

Changing the rules so that the mom and pop deteriorating tourist cabins will continue to exist was a mistake. The tearing down of those eyesores and the replacement by luxury housing was already beginning. This commission’s misplaced desire to motivate the tourist industry was a mistake.

Encouraging the Hilton Hotel to expand in such  way as to make it an unsightly misplaced gargantuan edifice is a mistake.

Hotels in themselves are not bad but codes that make it profitable for a luxury establishment that can command high daily rates but not more commercially based would add value to the adjacent residential areas.

The Islandside area that once housed the tennis courts should be developed but a commission that is not eager to approve anything that a commercial enterprise presents would be sure that the concessions needed would come with a stiff quid pro quo. The golf courses must be updated.  The new grass that is needed to survive as the ground water becomes more highly saline must be la requirement for any new expansion of residential housing in that area.

The rezoning of the key must be done with the accepted knowledge that the Town is primarily a residential community. When the 1985 zoning was done, the residential population was lowered from 75,000 to 20,000 but no one changed the amount of commercial zconong. This was done to avoid any legal challenges  because at the time, commercial property was still considered more valuable and it was felt the owners of said property would not take their change of status without a fight. This is not the case today. A new commission looking at the future in a different way might reconsider some mixed zoning to encourage more commercial activity needed for the residents.

Most voters on Longboat Key own their own homes or condominiums. In effect, longboat Key is a real estate play.  The codes and actions of theTown Commission should be directed towards raising the value of their investment.

Making the area more attractive to the buyers that are looking for this environment is good business. Town Commissions are not social engineers but it would be helpful if they didn’t keep trying to steer the community off of the tracks.

Pastor, Grossman and Jaleski will make sure they don’t.

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3 Responses for “Election 2013 Town Commission”

  1. Georgie McFarland says:

    Isn’t it about time that this newspaper yanks the bully pulpit from this has been, wanna be here but isn’t, and anti tourism elitist?

  2. Who's on First says:

    The Sage of Happy Valley once again shows how hard it is to read the minds of the LBK voter, but when his preferred candidates lost by 60/40, 55/45, and the better financed challenger cannot quite win (close only applies to horseshoes and hand grenades), it’s clear that Al once again gets it wrong. Face it, voters DO want to move forward, and clearly don’t want to see Mr. Jaleski taking a seat on the dais where he can’t be held to three minutes of rambling.

  3. Re: Election 2013 Town Commission: Dear, Mr. Green are you serious or is this column a joke? As an owner of an “Old Florida” Mom & Pop tourist business I resent your elitiest comments and find them extremely offensive. We have guests from all global locations who have been coming to this Island for many decades. They come to enjoy the beach and to support the Florida economy; many come for a visit and then decide to purchase real estate in this area. The Key Club expansion will not add to the traffic, those folks are already here, they are staying at luxury properties in Sarasota, why do we want to limit tax revenues for our community?
    You are mistaken, we as commercial owners do not get a handout, or high rates, we pay substantial property taxes to support the residential owners and we in particular have renovated our property to meet the needs of pet & family friendly, traveling guests on one of the best beaches in North America .
    Expanding the Hilton and the Key Club is essential for the overall health of this Island, how do you think folks find this beautiful paradise and want to purchase a condo or house in this area? They come to a conference or a meeting at the Key Club or the “subpar” Hilton! (read Trip Advisor)
    I for one, believe we have enough tennis courts for this town, we need to support the local business owners or else your residential community will be sitting in traffic for long periods to get essential services in Anna Maria Island or Sarasota.
    Best Regards,
    Christine Gorman Cullison
    Sandpiper Inn Longboat Key (formally Riveria Beach Resort)

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