Mayor talks undergrounding

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Mayor Duncan

Undergrounding Longboat Key’s power lines brings many questions to the fore.  Will it help property values? Will the fiber optic lines usher in significant opportunity for homeowners? Is the method of payment fair? 

For Mayor Jack Duncan, getting the issue in front of voters has been a more than two-year process. Longboat Key News spoke with Mayor Duncan on Friday about the project. Here is what he had to say:

What do you see as the most significant benefit to property owners in undergrounding?

It will be a tremendous benefit to Longboat Key for number of reasons.

The undergrounding of the power lines will add a huge aesthetic improvement to the island.

It will also increase property values for a number of people. I think that increase in values will be much more strongly defined in the neighborhoods.  On a home-by-home basis, the greatest property value improvement will be in neighborhoods.

Another benefit centers on safety. I believe underground lines are much much safer. All technology has changed; the switch boxes will not be permeable to water and will be made of stainless steel and are designed to be underwater. We will no longer have to deal with power lines coming down after storms as well.

And the fiber optic element is key to my way of thinking and personally the most exciting element. The integrated fiber optic will push us out ahead in the 21st Century.

All technology is driven to us through future advancements. With the dark fiber we will be in a situation where we are able to control our communication future.  By having the ability to control that we can move with technology. It gives us the latitude to go with the newest technologies available. It will be different world in 10 years, but it will all connect through fiber optic. The idea in enhancements in telemedicine and to be able to communicate and transfer medical information between you and your doctor and hospital is critical. The transmission of medical data and information is especially important given the age and demographic of Longboat Key. I cannot speak for other six commissioners but given my background in the medical industry and marketing I always looked at fiber element and said to myself that is the “wow” factor.


There has been much debate about the funding method. The Town decided on using non-ad valorum assessments based on benefit units assessed against each parcel of property. How is that method fair?

I hear a lot of people say “I can’t believe you did not go the ad valorum route.“

Ad valorum is predicated around property value. Is it fair if your $2 million house is next to my $200,000 house and we both have the same work to be done? Is it fair to have you pay 10 times more?

I couldn’t find a fairer way to do this and it is that simple. This is not like paving roads and providing water and sewer lines. This is not something we need to have; it is simply a tremendous property improvement. We could leave the old poles and just live with it, but I think the Town should be giving the owners this improvement. But it is not a necessity; it is just one of the most important improvements we can make to our Key. In fact, this will put Longboat at the forefront as a community in both technology and aesthetics. That is where I believe we need to head.


What is your intuition telling you about the chance of the measure passing on March 15?

To be dead honest, if you asked me two months ago I would told you I had trepidation about it getting passed. I want it to pass and am happy to say today I am feeling a lot different, a lot more optimistic.

The Town is interfacing with the property owners. We have held 10 sessions so far explaining the entire project and I have had a chance to rub elbows and a lot of people are appreciating that they are getting what they pay for and paying for what they are getting.

Another good sign is areas in the north end the Key I had once thought might give the plan a thumbs down, have not. I have seen a more positive reaction there than I ever anticipated. In the mid-Key and south Key the attitude has been incredibly positive. I am pretty optimistic.

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4 Responses for “Mayor talks undergrounding”

  1. Don says:

    Will there be an improvement in cell phone reception with the project?

  2. Jeff Goss says:

    As a Retired Firefighter-Inspector, I would look up to see if there are overhead wires around my house. 2 things, Can those wires fall on my house or me and if my house is on fire, can the Fire Department raise there ladder on the truck to save my house and the house next to me. The nozzle on the laddertruck can put 1000 gallons per minute on my fire. The nozzle in the firefighters hand can put 200 GPM.

  3. Ramsey Kraft says:

    Two things are being overlooked. I remember reading a year ago that our sewer pipe that goes to Cortez might need to be replaced soon. We shouldn’t wait until it breaks to start talking about it again. HOW MANY tanker trucks would it take DAILY to remove all our sewer stuff and how many months would this take to replace the old pipe ? In our condo, they have been replacing cast iron pipes for 5 to 7 years; apparently they only last 40 or so years. Should this be done first?
    This is a minor point, there are street light on almost every other pole and you were talking about removing all the poles for a aesthetic improvement which would increase our property value ! I don’t understand how this will work. Thanks

  4. Georgie McFarland says:

    The electorate can send a strong message to the sitting Commissioner’s by voting NO to the undergrounding vote. The inequities of taxation in this current proposal needs further modification before it has a chance of passage.

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