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The Colony: 49 Percent is not enough

BLAKE FLEETWOOD
Guest Columnist
editorial@lbknews.com

The recent straw poll of Colony Beach Club owners had conflicting results and told us nothing that we did not know a year ago.

118 owners, out of 237, voted for the Developer- -Termination plans.

This is 49.8% of the owners — barely short of a majority of owners.

78 owners, or 40%, voted for a renovation. 41 owners did not vote mainly because they did not have enough information from the developers.

Is this enough for a Termination Plan?

Hardly.

The Board, along with our attorneys, has told us repeatedly that we need a 75% owner vote for a Termination plan. Florida State Law says we need 80– 90% for a termination plan. Our condo documents say we need 100% for a Termination Plan.

Who knows? But, it’s a lot more than 49%.

There is a good reason state law is written this way, because of a fundamental American principal:

No one should have their homes taken away from them against their will.

True, you can play with figures all day long,— and lie with them,

But, the fact remains: the rebuild–Termination proposal needs to get from 190 to 213 affirmative YES votes. The 118 votes they got is about half of what they need and is a defeat by any measure.

These developer plans simply do not have enough votes for a termination to succeed.  The proposals are missing key financial information.  How much will it cost to stay as whole owners? When will be get our buyout monies? Will we have our deed taken away?

Why keep pushing termination plans that have no possibility of success?

The Colony needs a new Board, fresh faces, new ideas, that can break the current stalemate, and come up with different plans that will take everyone’s needs into consideration.

The current impasse is the result of a Board that has stayed too long. It has failed to bring forth a plan that can deal with the Klauber lawsuits, deal with the needs of the different stakeholders, or even the proper maintenance of the property.

They keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. A definition of insanity according to Albert Einstein.

If we let this drag on again with more developers who are promising the world, and then can’t deliver, we are going to end up in the same insanity as before.

After three years, this should be obvious to all.

We have spent too much time on new plans that cannot work— waiting for a “White Knight” that will never come. Most of the current Board has little to no experience in real estate development, construction, or resort management.

A Board election is coming up on May 6th, and new Board members will be seated then.

This is an opportunity to come forth with a new approach.

Fortunately, there are some good, experienced candidates out there, with open minds, who can provide a way out of this deadlock.

George Wehrlin — Former Board Chairman

Dean Feltham— Former Chairman of Building Committee/ experienced developer

Bud Suidara — Former Board Member and respected legal expert to the Board

Shelly Rabin — Present Board Member with condo experience

Bill Crothers — Long experience in the construction business

So where are we?…

The outline for a solution that can bring everyone together is obvious:

Everyone must get something:

The owners should have at least three choices.

—- a plan that allows owners who want to get out, immediately.

—– a plan that lets owners keep, fix up and rent their present units.

—– a plan that lets owners, who want new units, the ability to get them.

This is only fair.  It can be done. The monies could be worked out. The lawsuits can be settled and we could be back on the beach before the end of the year.

The current Board keeps bringing up the same old proposals that will cheat condo owners out of their deeds.

If we continue down the same path, with the same Board, we have had for years,  we will get more delays, studies, and procrastination…nothing will change. In three years, owners will find themselves, paying nearly $20,000 in dues and getting nothing in return, watching their condos fall apart.

Meanwhile, the Town of Longboat Key suffers with an eyesore that has not been maintained for years.

We have to find proposals that are possible, not perfect.

The Colony has lost more than two years now wasting tens of millions of dollars — with developer– termination plans that don’t have the votes, don’t have the monies, and don’t have the approvals. That cannot work.

The Board talks a good game about  “healing a house divided”,, and working together, but when it comes down to concessions to the 51 percent who didn’t vote their way, —-“It’s our way or the highway.”

Consider what their scheme is now.

Instead of waiting for a new Board to be seated in a two weeks, the  outgoing  Board is trying to rush through a proposal to go with the Termination developers — and pretend that they really have enough “real” binding votes, 75% plus, to make it happen.

This is going to gum things up for years. Nobody will be bought out, and the owners will not get back to the beach.

Let’s move forward with something that can work and is realistic, we have to make a deal…. horse trade…and get a new Board. Tourist at the Colony could be bringing millions of dollars to the Town with their taxes and their spending by next year.

Blake Fleetwood is a Colony Board Member and a former reporter for The New York Times, who has been visiting LBK for 15 years.

 

 Letter in response from Jay Yablon

To our friends and neighbors on Longboat Key:
I have had a chance to review the April 15, 2013 editorial by Blake Fleetwood titled “The Colony: 49 Percent is not enough.”
This editorial contains multiple inaccuracies and distortions not to mention hysteria which I am not going to dignify with any response.
But as President of the Colony Beach and Tennis Club Association I do want to place your minds at ease by stating very clearly that Mr. Fleetwood is a single member of our nine-person Board of Directors.  He does not in any way speak for the Board nor does he speak for the Association.  And in the Board election presently underway within our Association, we will do everything we can to make certain that he never does.
Jay R. Yablon
President
Colony Beach and Tennis Club Association

 

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5 Responses for “The Colony: 49 Percent is not enough”

  1. Blake Fleetwood says:

    Thanks Jay,

    Nice of you to stay away from personal attacks.

    I guess it hard to defend a Do Nothing record of inaction for three years, so when you can’t argue the facts, go for the gutter.

    And certainly don’t dignify unpleasant facts with a response.

    Blake Fleetwood

  2. Ghostrider says:

    Ladies ‘n Gentlemen,

    Money always prevails.
    It’s a waiting game, especially knowing the mean age of the island’s residents.
    Next.

  3. Georgie McFarland says:

    The Colony is now involved in Civil War. On the one hand we have Blake Fleetwood who has aligned himself with five owners running for the Colony Board of Owners and on the other hand we have those who have run the Colony to the way it looks today. Blake’s group wants to renovate; the other group wants to tear down and rebuild with one of two Developer’s. Neither faction realizes that the Town of Longboat Key with it’s current group of Commissioner’s will not entertain either a rebuild or restoration unless all 18 acres are involved. Meanwhile the clock is ticking towards December 31st when the grandfathered density will expire as nothing has transpired except that Langley and Siegal are awaiting the foreclosure on Klauber’s interests which will eventually result in a deficiency judgement against Klauber and the forfeiture of that pot of gold (25 Million) to Langley and Siegal.

  4. Steve says:

    Blake, You feel there’s an attempt to “cheat” the condo owners? Really? Usually when you have a $25 million dollars judgement against you, you’re not the one who got cheated. Owners willingly signed agreements that limited their stay at their property to 30 days a year. The price they paid reflected this type of ownership, versus full ownership which would have cost much more. Perhaps in hindsight you feel you paid too much. Join the club – so do millions of people who purchased real estate in Florida and the rest of the United States. Now you expect to go back on the orginal agreements you signed and have twelve times the ownership you agreed to? Meanwhile, your attempt get out of your contracts has cost Longboat millions in tax revenues, damaged property values on Longboat, cost Longboat businesses vast amounts in lost sales, caused many people to lose their jobs, deprived property owners and tourists the enjoyment of the Colony for the past couple of years (and probably many years going to come), wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in owners dues to “maintain” something for which there is absolutely no utility, and have created an enormous blight on an otherwise beautiful island.

  5. William Kary says:

    Mr. Fleetwood, as a journalist one needs to look beyond the “story” to see reality. Take off those rose colored glasses and just take a very hard look around “what was the Colony”. The magic is gone, face it and allow everyone to move on. Why would you just throw “empty dollars” at empty buildings? To continue to grasp at “history” is the same as putting on “Dirty Dancing” on a continual play loop on your DVD. Great memories, sure, so was the Buccaneer, Shenkels and countless other “businesses” on LBK. In my humble opinion anyone who bought in to Murf’s fantasy land got what they paid for. Yes, I was approached by a very good friend of his to also “get in”, but I guess at 28 I was just to ignorant to see the trees from the forest. Just another Florida charade enriching one person at the expense of others… If you need further “memories” put that “Dust in the Wind” 8-track tape into one of the Colony stereos..

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