Villagers meet peacefully following ‘worst meeting ever’

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The Longbeach Village Association, which represents residents of the historical Village on the very north end of Longboat Key, held an annual meeting that served as a peaceful update on issues and neighborhood going-ons. Ironically, more residents show up for the monthly Village meetings than for Town Commission meetings — perhaps the food, wine and beer plays a factor some muse.

The meeting, according to several Villagers, was a counterpoint to last month’s meeting that was described this past week “As the worst Association meeting I have ever attended,” by Village Association President and long-time resident Michael Drake.

The issue that fueled the in-fighting was whether the Town should open up its numerous Bay and water accesses and create assessable places for residents and visitors to gather and picnic and fish or ponder the natural beauty.

The Town owns several pieces of property — many grown over — and several residents have expressed that it is a disservice to force all the residents to use the public dock and boat ramp and jockey for space while other public lands lay fallow and benefit primarily the adjoining property owners.

But after that pre-Christmas meeting where verbal hostilities ensued, the Association treated itself to a community softball game that Drake said went peacefully and in the spirit of community fun.

Villager Peter Rowan said in jest that while he got hit in the head at the softball game, he is fine except he can no longer remember names. He added hat other players described the sound as “a hollow thud” when the ball struck his noggin. Drake said another softball game will take place at Bayfront Park at 11 a.m. on Jan. 18, and he described the game as a “no pressure” event employing slow-pitch.

Drake told the audience of about 30 residents that Villager Gene Jaleski and a group of about five others are serving on a telecommunications improvement committee to figure out ways to improve cell phone and wireless Internet coverage on the Key using emerging technologies instead of a cell tower, which the Town Commission rejected last fall as unbefitting the community for numerous reasons.

The meeting then ended with an announcement by resident Mary Mazza that a 45-foot tour bus and 26 friends would soon be staying over night and she wanted to alert neighbours that they are just “good characters with character” and to stop by and join the party if you hear the noise. Drake responded, “Only in the Village.”

And that ended the meeting with no mention of Bay accesses, peacocks, trailer parking or the clearing of alleys. Only the screeching and moaning of the peacocks and the clinking of bottles tossed into the recycling punctuated the night as the residents headed in the cold back to their homes in the Village.

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