Speaking with Mr. Grossman…

Staff Writer

I set out on a Longboat Key version of a chilly morning to meet Larry Grossman, a candidate for Town Commission from District 4. I had asked him where he would like to meet. He said Durante Park. That’s significant, too, as Grossman quickly identified himself as an environmentalist. I know also that the park is in his district.

We met outside in the park’s pavilion, a good venue. The sun was warming things at the park. We sat at a picnic bench. He tells me that he lives here at St. Jude’s North. That’s a start. He’s from Boston, Dorchester specifically. Larry’s Dad was an “L Street Brownie.” They moved to Newton where Larry was educated. He went on to Boston University for study in Sociology and Urban Affairs. Graduate School was at George Washington University in Planning. Larry worked on the White and Dukakis Campaigns in Boston. He and Patricia have one son living in Rhode Island. I break the ice with my usual starter: What one thing would you like people to know about you? Grossman replies quickly. “I have a great sense of humor.”

We move into the more serious stuff. When asked for three important issues facing the voters he says; 1 LBK has turned the corner, where going? ; ULI says we need to end the bickering; 2 Modernize the Island, infrastructure, undergrounding will be nice; 3 Upgrade Comp Plan and Land Development Regulations.

I ask if he could expand a bit on beach re-nourishment. He notes that he spends a lot of time on the beach with Turtle Watch so he is sensitive to the maintenance of the habitat of beach. He says we have no control over sand supplies, dredging. Says we need to find a better way. Notes it’s all very expensive. I ask if cellular communications is dead as an issue here? Yes.

A three-part question; what from your past makes you the better choice? He says: I’m a professional planner; I have experience in local government; I am a consensus builder.

What from your present? Grossman: I’m always a Planner, better on regional areas. I’ve done this!

What from your personality? Grossman: Open to … I’m inclusive. I see the LBK Way as exclusive. “I see here a waste of human capital.”

My next question touches any past Public Service. He tells me proudly of thirty years with the City of Alexandria, Virginia.

Past Community Service; he says neighborhood associations, neighborhood traffic coordinator.

Boards, Service Organizations; he lists LBK Turtle Watch again.

Because he seeks to join our Town Government I ask, as usual, what does he think of our form of Government (TLBK). Larry replies that he is experienced working with city managers. He thinks it is a good form, which provides professional leadership. He’s seen different styles. As he sees the problem on LBK – No dialogue on issues. There is no participation; it is a spectator sport! The Form is fine; Performance is the Problem.

I asked what he might think of our Town employees; were there any standouts? Larry demurs. He says one might comment on the organization, not on individuals. A politician already!

Is he pro-union, anti-union, neutral? He answers firmly that he is

pro-union. He expands some with a strong position on employee unions.

I ask about my favorites: hot buttons or takeaways. I don’t get much here.

He again tells me that cellular is now a non-issue.

OK, I’ll hope so.

On the burying of electrical distribution Larry calls this an unnecessary hot button. Says it’s been reset before knowledge. “Lets have facts.” Don’t rely on one-person consultant. Says, “Town Manager not bringing knowledge forward.”

On the roundabout at GMD/Broadway Larry says that he is experienced with streets. Notes that this is the entrance to LBK.

The Towne Centre (he means all of the areas about Publix) Grossman says that he had this idea (so did many others). Says that the Redevelopment Task Force should have been used as leverage with Publix in approval of that development. Larry thinks that there is hope and that this can be improved. A resource information center is needed.

I skipped Dogs on the Beach.

I asked Grossman what he thought of the sometimes suggestion to impose deed restriction like controls in areas where these do not exist. He says these would not be legal.  What we might need he suggests are Neighborhood Plans.

I move on; does he think that the Village is separate? Special say he.

Do the think the Villagers think they are separate? Special says he, again.

We get very briefly into Town fiscal matters. This brief discussion about only leads to Grossman’s comment that the Town wastes money on Attorneys and Consultants. That might be a subject for another day.

I ask about the abuilding north end terminal groins (jetties). He tells me that he is not in favor of armoring. He would rather that these not be there; wants to see how they perform. He notes that these are expensive solutions.

I ask if he is pro-development, pro-growth. He says that he is not

anti-growth. He seeks to find balanced development. That’s the ever- popular answer.

I read Grossman a quote of his from the race of two years ago,

“Zoning without planning is like a boat without a rudder, you never know where 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.” (Melissa Reid, LBK News 1/21/13)

He affirmed that this is still his thought.

I’ve been watching this town government, as a participant and as an observer, commentator for quite a while now. It appears to this observer and player that this town government (the Commission by definition) is mostly interested in what we might call the planning side of the municipal business. It didn’t do so well on its big venture of this decade. There is enough blame to go around on that one.

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