Let’s get on with it

OK, the referendum is over.  I asked you to be certain to vote.  You sure did.

The voter turnout, or response, in our first all mail ballot election was great.  As Florida law does not permit this type of balloting for the election of candidates, I’m not sure how wide the application will be.  It is appropriate for referenda questions.  I suppose smart candidates will now see a way to avoid appearing on the same ballot as a money question.

While I’m glad to see the much better voter participation, I continue to be perplexed by the continued difference between turnouts in our two counties.  Sarasota participation was significantly higher than Manatee.

We should be working as a single unit.  Maybe this is an item for Town Leadership.

I said that I’d take no position on the ballot question, and I didn’t, and won’t now.  I gave my reasons.  It’s over, let’s hope.  ‘Tis  time for Longboat Key to get on with it.  We’ve been at this “drill” for over six years.  Certainly the lawyers have gotten more than their share out of the proponents of the LBKC project – and out of us.

In addition to Getting On With It, I suggest Thinking Big.

I can’t resist the opportunity to make some rather general comments.  After all, that is what we do.  This was a density question – put to the Town’s electors at  last as required in our Town Charter.  It took an appeals court to remind us of that requirement.  The opponents and proponents in this latest voting exercise both seemed fixated on traffic.  Each actually claimed their side would improve traffic!

Now it would seem to this grey haired civil engineer that traffic around here is 1. A regional  problem, and 2. Constrained by the roadway geometry both on and off our key.  As I recall the capacity of a lane of roadway (anywhere) is a fixed quantity.  That number ( 1,200 passenger car equivalents +/- per lane per hour) is not a function of velocity.  Tweaking is possible with such features as traffic signal optimization, maybe even roundabouts (rotaries to us New Englanders) – or even Google Cars.  In my memory traffic officers are seldom effective.  St Armand’s Circle might actually have greater capacity that surrounding approaches as it has more lanes.

In any case on the traffic issue I’d suggest that the Town, that’s our Town:  Continue to support Regional efforts, Respect Citizen inputs, all while engaging Professional Traffic Engineers to objectively study our situation for us.  This is a recognized engineering discipline, we should use its practitioners. We don’t know everything!

Related to our Island’s development.  We should continue to pay attention to our infrastructure.  Our Public Works Director and Assistant Town Manager have taken these issues seriously, and are  well on the way to solutions.  We should be prepared to seek regional (State and/or Federal) funding for these efforts.  We can’t afford everything.

While we are getting on with it, why not take our best assets – our Staff more seriously. Specifically I’m referring to Public Safety (Fire & Police), and Public Works.  City Managers all seem fixated on their ability to hire and fire.  Maybe our Manager should Lead.  LBK Fire/Rescue has been the jewel of this essential function in this geographic area.  It is slipping partly due to lack of support from town hall.  People notice.  Think Big.

Finally, the development of the finest multi-star facility in the land will be of no value if we do not continue to protect our island and ourselves by taking care of our beaches.  Longboat Key was a leader in this area.  We “took a breath” a few years ago.  This program must be continued.

Here too, we don’t know everything.  Similarly we can’t afford everything.  The go it alone, pay it ourselves method just won’t work.

Coastal Engineering is another recognized engineering discipline.  Use it.  We must get over our fear of competing for funding.  Since we never try, we never win.

As this column hits the streets I’ll be in Massachusetts.  It’s high school graduation time, as many of you know.


PostScript:   A short P.S. from your Columnist;

Well, We are still here.  The Boston trip was cancelled by a five day stay in the Sarasota Memorial Hospital – I won’t bore you with any clinical details.  Enough to say that I was taken there on Sunday, the 24th  – returned home on Thursday, the 28th.  The Hospital Staff did its usual  great job.  I was taken to the Hospital on that Sunday by our fine Longboat Key Fire Rescue Service Ambulance.  Those two professionals made the trip and the care in the ER better.  This is our Town’s hidden Gem – BZ! Thanks, Guys.



PO’C – 5/15/15- 5/28/15





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