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Do we need a paw park? Where is our prettiest spot?

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

On March 10, 2015 Longboat Key voters must decide which commissioners to elect in two contested races, in the At-Large seat is Commissioner Phill Younger who is running against former Commissioner Gene Jaleski, and in the District 4 race, Larry Grossman is running against Jack Daly. Vice Mayor Jack Duncan is running unopposed for his District 2 seat. Longboat Key News will hold a public candidate debate on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center, 4052 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Longboat Key News asked each of the four candidates in the contested elections this week questions regarding three topics: what their skill sets are, whether there should be a dog park, and what they love about Longboat Key. Here is what they had to say:

 

What skill set and experience do you have that could enhance the Longboat Key Commission?

Jack Daly: My community experience at Club Longboat and in the beach community in my home State of Connecticut, coupled with my business background and my ability to work well with different issues and personalities, I believe, will enable me to add value to the Town Commission. I have a proven record of making hard decisions. These are all critical traits of an effective Commissioner. I am committed to gather all the facts with respect to issues coming before the Commission, to listen to input from the community, and then make decisions in the best interests of the Longboat Key community based on those facts.

 

Larry Grossman: I am running for the Commission because I believe that I have much to offer the citizens, businesses and visitors to Longboat Key to make it a better place to live and to visit. This belief is based on 30 years of experience as a public planner for a Town Manager form of government, experience in real estate and development, success in negotiations with developers, extensive experience and success in neighborhood based planning  and community development. I enjoy people and am a good listener and am eager to know people’s viewpoints and perspectives. During my professional career I’ve gotten a lot done and none of what I did could have been done successfully without working with others. Everything required a collaborative effort.

I believe government has the power to do good when that power is derived from the people it serves. I am creative and focused on good outcomes from good processes. I think long term and committed to solutions that will be sustainable and grow in value over time for future generations. I ask lots of questions and have an inquiring mind. I prefer dialogues over monologues. I don’t suffer fools lightly and when I see injustice or the slighting of individuals or lack of respect or lack of candidness or transparency I am going to respond.

 

Gene Jaleski: My background is business engineering and the application of technology to many business sectors for forty years. More importantly, I have been active in Longboat town government for over twenty-five years, seeking fact-based solutions for many of the problems confronting our community. Whereas the current commission has been solely focused on intensification of commercial tourism, I have been arguing that more tourism has no financial benefit to property owners.

 

Phill Younger: Successful resolution of our challenges requires steady, informed efforts. I offer a solid record of accomplishment with a pledge of continuing impartial efforts to ensure that our community maintains its vibrant, beautiful and vital essence with a reputation for excellence. I understand and respect the feelings and opinions on both sides of issues. My philosophy and approach for everything is to make a decision only after listening to all possibilities with an open, fair-minded, and objective mind, with in-depth research to bore to the heart of an issue.  I offer honesty, integrity, stability, credibility, and a non-wavering desire to serve our community. I work constructively with others to get done what is needed. I am an Engineer and Attorney. I belong to the Sarasota Bar, Georgia Bar, and American Legion. I have been on the LBK Code Enforcement Board and the Planning & Zoning Board. I have been an LBK Commissioner since 2010. I am on the Finance Committee and the Metropolitan Planning Organization Board and serve as the Commission liaison for the 911 evaluation. I gladly put about 35-40 hours a week into this non-paying position, and, it is a labor of love for our community.

 

Do you think a paw park or dog park should be part of the Bayfront Park expansion and redevelopment plan? Why or why not?

Jack Daly: I support the inclusion of the small and large dog parks in the Bayfront Park Conceptual Plan that is moving into the design phase. There is substantial community support for them. I recently made an on-site review of the Plan with the Town’s Recreational Manager, and was impressed by the proposed tree-lined location for the dog parks on the Northwest side of the Park.

 

Larry Grossman: Dog parks were a big deal in Alexandria, Virginia where I worked. This town had to be the most dog friendly place on earth. Even our public fountains had dogs in mind. My neighborhood in Alexandria did struggle with a small pocket park that was designed for a playground for toddlers and for a dog park. These two purposes proved to be incompatible. However, the City did design an off leash dog park near my home that has been successful. I have stated that I would favor a dog park at Bayfront Park as part of its upgrade because there is room for a dog park on this site provided that this activity is contained within its designated area and managed responsibly by the dog owners.

 

Gene Jaleski: $2.1 million taxpayer dollars have been spent acquiring land at Bayfront Park over the last six years, and hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on planners and experts, to tell the commission what to do with a piece of land that nobody goes to nine months of the year. We need to try to stop this waste of tax dollars with absolutely nothing to show for all that money and time. Of course there should already be a dog park at Bayfront. Something should be done to attract people to such an expensive facility, in addition to three month a year morning exercise classes.

 

Phill Younger: While there was significant community push-back relative to allowing dogs on the beach, I do not sense the same resistance relative to a potential dog park at Bayfront Park or perhaps even Durante Park, and accordingly, I am open to such a possibility. Proper sanitation, animal/human safety, and operating costs to the Town, of course, remain as concerns, but I do not think that they should prove insurmountable.  The opportunity for the owners of about 1,000 dogs island-wide to have a venue to gather, plus a planned and well-separated children’s area, could nicely abet the goal of creating an active and vibrant, newly developed Bayfront Park.

 

What do you love most about Longboat Key? What are Longboat’s strongest assets for residents? For visitors? Also, what do you think is the prettiest place or view on Longboat Key?

Jack Daly: A deep, enduring sense of a quiet island community, blessed with the natural beauty of sea and sand. Our beaches are the strongest assets for residents and visitors, as are the Town Tennis Center and our restaurants, especially those on the waterfronts. While each community on the Key has its own unique and special attributes, my admittedly biased opinion is that the beach, tennis and special close-knit community including generations of families at Club Longboat is as good as it gets. Having said that, a Town Center would expand and unite our many individual communities by providing space and focus for Key-wide activities. The prettiest views on the Key are the always-changing sunsets from the picnic tables just off the beach at Club Longboat.

 

Larry Grossman: The LBK people are who I like best and the visitors who come from all over the country and the world. Of course, I like living on a barrier island where I can experience the Bay, the Gulf and the Beach. I like the bike/ped path and riding my bicycle up and down the island into Sarasota or onto Anna Maria Island. I like the quiet and looking at the stars at night un-obscured by artificial light pollution. My favorite view is from the Durante Park walkway looking out from among the mangroves onto Sarasota Bay.

 

Gene Jaleski: The single most beautiful part of being on Longboat Key is its serenity and upscale, low density lifestyle, without too much tourism. I find the village to be the most inviting area on the island. If you have never visited the north end of the island, I highly recommend spending half an hour on a walking exploration of the quaint homes and welcoming atmosphere. Longboat has over twenty miles of waterfront views. The view form the Mar Vista, while having a leisurely lunch under the trees, at water’s edge, will please even the most demanding aesthete.

 

Phill Younger: Longboat Key is truly a paradise. We are fortunate to call this incredible island home. There are a multitude of reasons why I love Longboat: the beaches, people, the sense of true community, climate, sunsets, cultural amenities surrounding us, the many fine restaurants, and all are some of our island’s strongest assets. Every time I am on the Ringling Bridge heading west, I am reminded of the area’s beauty and why Longboat is so dear to me. It was from the peak of this bridge looking out in 1986 that Fanny and I knew this was a special place and that we would settle here.

 

Voting information

Early Voting will take place from March 2 through March 7 at the Longboat Key Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key, FL for all Longboat Key (Sarasota and Manatee County) registered voters. Poll will be open from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

 

March 10 General Municipal Election

The Longboat Key General Municipal Election will be held March 10 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the following locations:

Sarasota County residents: Precinct 201

Polling location: Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road

Manatee County residents:  Precinct 309

Polling location: Longboat Island Chapel, 6200 Gulf of Mexico Drive

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