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Longboat Key Letters – Week ending April 21, 2017

Longboat Key News encourages Letters to the Editor on timely issues. Please email to: letters@lbknews.com or mail to PO Box 8001, Longboat Key, FL 34228. We also print letters sent to Town Hall that address Longboat Key issues. We reserve the right to edit.

Traffic comes from Anna Maria

To: Editor

I’m not a traffic engineer, or similar expert, but as a 30-year snow bird resident of Longboat Key I do have a few thoughts on our traffic problems during the high season.

The principal bottlenecks at the north end haven’t changed for years. The bridge off the island still goes up, but I believe less frequently than in the past. The crowds still leave Coquina Beach in the late afternoon, but they are not any greater than in the past. The junction of Gulf Drive and Cortez remains a problem, and the Cortez bridge still goes up and down every 20 minutes

As for the south end, I think one can make a case that over the past 30 years the bottlenecks have decreased. The New Pass bridge does not go up as often as in the past, and the Ringling Causeway bridge to the mainland is a vast improvement. There is no question that the junction of Gulf Stream and U.S.41 remains a problem.

I would also believe that the number of residents on Longboat Key, even in high season, has not changed dramatically, and may even have dropped slightly. The Holiday Inn is gone, The Colony has been closed for years, and the Hilton Hotel has not been open for 2 seasons.

And yet, the traffic problems get worse year after year. So what has changed? Rarely, if ever, is the real problem mentioned. Look north, young man, look north! Tourism on Anna Maria Island has grown dramatically. An article in the Anna Maria paper 3 years ago stated that tourism had grown by almost 2 ½ times over the previous 7 years as measured by tourist tax revenue and was still growing rapidly. The number of permanent residents in the various communities on Anna Maria may not have gone up that much, but the number of tourists has increased dramatically, and with that, the number of homes, condos, etc. to accommodate them. And if you are a tourist, a permanent resident, a service person, or other, wanting to go from Anna Maria to Sarasota, or vice versa, what do you suppose your route is? It’s via Longboat Key. And, as it is through traffic, it impacts both ends of Longboat Key. One need only look at the volume of traffic getting off Longboat Key at the north end in the late afternoon in season to see the problem. They’re not Longboaters going to Coquina Beach to swim at that time of day! They’re Anna Maria residents going home.

I have no idea what the answer is, but I believe that those who point their finger at development on Longboat Key for our traffic problems, are overlooking the enormous impact of tourism on Anna Maria. Yes, let’s see what can be done about the various bottlenecks at both ends of Longboat Key, but let’s also recognize where the major problem lies.

Geoff Styles

Longboat Key/Toronto

 

Bonaire Subdivision Setback

To: Commissioner Jim Brown

You requested information on the setbacks from GMD at the Bonaire subdivision.  See below for info on the measurements.

Dave Bullock

Town Manager, Longboat Key 

 

Bonaire

To: Town Manager Dave Bullock

Measurements were taken onsite this morning for the house that is closest to GMD (Unit 6). It sits a little over 30 feet from the front property line (minimum setback is 30 feet). It is 22 feet from the side property line adjacent to Positano (minimum setback is 15 feet).

It does have the appearance of being closer than it actually is, I think partly due to the FEMA height and also because Positano sits 50 feet from the front property line, making the contrast more pronounced.

Alaina Ray

Director Planning & Building Department

Longboat Key

 

119th St. and Cortez FDOT Plans Changing and Public Meeting

To: Town Commission

Over the past few weeks, I have sent you information on proposed plans for improvements for Cortez Road and 119th street to help address long traffic backups on the north end of Longboat Key.  FDOT prepared a plan for a continuous eastbound lane.  The plan as presented by FDOT met with significant concern from Cortez Village representatives.  FDOT is now working to revise the traffic plan including an option to make no improvements.

I am encouraging all Longboat Key residents interested in these improvements that could affect north bound traffic leaving Longboat Key to attend the public meeting and express their desires for better traffic flow east bound from the Cortez Bridge. It is expected that some temporary improvements could be made this summer/fall with permanent modifications early 2019. Staff will be there to express our desire for increased traffic flow east bound on Cortez Road but residents of Longboat Key need to weigh in at the meeting.

The public meeting where FDOT will receive input is to be held:

Public Hearing, May 9

5-7 p.m. Cortez Road Baptist Church

4411 100th St W, Bradenton, FL 34210

 

Increasing community involvement

To: Vice Mayor Ed Zunz

Thank you for making the suggestion that Town Commission meeting agendas organized in an order that prioritizes and assigns high interest topics with fixed start times to increase community involvement and attendance.

Yesterday, approximately 20 or so neighbors came to the Commissioner’s workshop to listen to and speak in support of canal dredging (item #9 on the agenda of a meeting that started at 1 p.m.).  Because the topic was so important to these residents they stayed through the first part of the meeting and first break to hear the presentation and make public comment.  Many in this same group were interested in hearing about the proposed GMD corridor improvements, but since that topic was item #12 and potentially 1-2 hours later, they left the meeting. If high interest topics like these had fixed times, published in advance as you recommended, it would help the town to better achieve our goal of increased community involvement in town government.

Maureen Merrigan

Longboat Key

 

To: Maureen Merrigan

Thank you for your kind note.  As you can see, a large community turnout at commission meetings, as well as at planning board meetings, can be of immense help in communicating the impact of public sentiment on the kinds of issues you reference.

Ed Zunz

Vice Mayor, Longboat Key

 

GMD upgrades under review

To: Town Manager Dave Bullock

So pleased to see progress on conceptual plans on beautification and improved safety of GMD and its redesign to accommodate all modes especially pedestrians and bicycles. Where there are no turning movements landscaped raised medians would be ideal. Traffic should be channelized  with raised medians so that the third lane does not become a passing and traveling lane- only to take the turns where appropriate and not provided with excessive queuing space.

When the study gets into detail I would hope that there will be an analysis of how to improve intersections especially those that have no curbing such as at GMD and St. Judes Drive where the pavement ends and transitions to a dirt ditch.

Other intersections may have excessive radii and too much pavement that could be necked down. Other intersections may have to be widened because they are too narrow.

I like the idea of lighting embedded in the pavement for pedestrians walking along the expanded sidewalk/bike lane or at pedestrian street crossings. What I don’t find as necessary is installing new street lights designed to illuminate the street, such as using 20-foot poles with masts and cobra head fixtures. A succession of these highway oriented lights with the fixture head looming out over the roadway compromises aesthetic purpose of the utility undergrounding  project. Have to also think of future car models and how they may be fitted with front lights that do a better job of illuminating the roadway. Also, think of a fleet of smart cars with sensors and automated self-driving cars. Will Longboat Key provide for electric charging stations?

I’ve asked for some time about decisions on lighting along GMD and hope that the Town will explore innovative ways of achieving safety without sacrificing aesthetics.

Also question of whether or how the design would accommodate the car transport trailers that park and load or unload in the median lane along GMD.

Larry Grossman

Longboat Key 

 

Ending all legal disputes at the Colony

To: Town Commission

I wanted to share with all of you the email which I sent to the Colony owners earlier today.  We look forward to your assistance and cooperation in finally bringing the Colony back to life with the help of Unicorp and Charles Whittall, whom I expect will remain our business partner of choice in this undertaking.

It is appropriate that less than two weeks shy of the tenth anniversary of the first lawsuit at The Colony, we have today agreed to end all of the remaining legal disputes at The Colony.

Jay R. Yablon

President

Colony Beach and Tennis Club Association, Inc.

Reporting today’s meeting of the development committee with Unicorp 

To: Fellow Colony owners

This email will report that the development committee met today in person with Chuck Whittall of Unicorp.

I am very pleased to advise you that Chuck has agreed to keep intact, without any reductions, the consideration paid and all other benefits provided to the unit owners under the present development agreement. Additionally, Chuck has agreed to immediately dismiss the appeal of the recent recreational facilities lease ruling in exchange for a waiver of the Association’s sanctions recovery, resulting in final closure of those disputes with no further legal costs.

Consequently, it will be the committee’s recommendation to the board and to the owners to continue the present development agreement with Unicorp, as necessarily amended to address these positive changes. We will schedule and send notice of a public board meeting for this purpose, in the near future.

Jay Yablon

President

Colony Beach and Tennis Club Association, Inc.

 

Single Family Building height

To: Town Commission

For those of us who enjoy and appreciate the look and character of our special neighborhood, we agree that our residential area is not appropriate for structures taller than 30 feet over FEMA minimum. Therefore: We the undersigned, by our signatures below, ask the Longboat Key Town Commission and the Planning and Zoning Board to restrict structure height to 30 feet over FEMA level with no exceptions to this height limit allowed. We the undersigned hereby petition to achieve the above stated objective as established in the Town Building Code in 1984. Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Pete Rowan

Longboat Key

 

Nice work on the hit and run suspect

To: Police Chief Pete Cumming

That was a tiny needle in a haystack clue our Longboat Key Police had to work with. An “older white pick-up truck” on GMD is hardly something substantial. Nicely done! We are always proud of our police officers and firefighters on Longboat Key.

Tom Freiwald 

Longboat Key

 

To: Tom Friewald

Thanks for the kind words. I too am proud of the work our public safety team performs. Sgt. Bourque and Officer Martin did an exceptional job, as usual. We’re certainly pleased to have provided some level of closure to the family. Thanks again for your thoughts.

Pete Cumming

Police Chief

Longboat Key

 

City of Sarasota Resolution banning Plastic Bags

To: Mayor Terry Gans

Attached is a City of Sarasota Commission Resolution adopted April 3 supporting a proposed State Legislative Bill (also attached) to allow coastal communities of 100,000 in population or less to advance pilot programs to reduce the use of plastic bags. Disposable plastic bags adversely affect our natural habitats, wildlife, clog our sewer and drainage systems and overload our solid waste streams. These bags are used for consumer goods but their usefulness is momentary while the damage they can do to our environment can last life times. Reducing the use of disposable plastic bags can save the Town’s taxpayers’ money and save energy.

I ask the Commission to consider passing a similar Resolution in support of the Bill. Whether the Bill makes it out of committees to the legislative floor this year or next support is needed by the communities such as Longboat Key, which can benefit from the pilot program. Appreciate your consideration of this matter.

Larry Grossman

Longboat Key

New Colony plan in works

To: Longboat Key residents

I would like to let you all know that I have been working with the neighbors on both sides of the Colony for several weeks and Preserve Longboat Key.  We are finalizing changes to our plan that they intend to support in the commission.

The plan is still for a five star hotel and will not require any sort of referendum. It will go through the normal application process and we will have a permit next year with a scheduled 2020 opening.  We have a pre-application meeting with the town Thursday of this upcoming week.

Our offer to the unit owners is not far off from where it had previously been as well.

I currently own over 10 percent of The Colony outright along with all the commercial units and recreational land. I mention this because I’m sure you are all aware that the property cannot and will not be developed without my land which I will not sell to Manfred or anybody for that matter. I’m a developer and we will develop the property and do not need to go seek an investor. Please read about our company.

www.unicorpusa.com

We are over a billion-dollar development firm and this project is well within our wheel house especially this scaled down version.

I inform you of all of this because the confusion been put out there by Manfred is harmful to the process of redeveloping the property.  It creates false illusions that can never be executed by him for all the reasons listed above.

We will create a beautiful resort at the former Colony site and ask that you support our efforts as we are significantly invested with our capital and passion.

Chuck Whittall

Unicorp Companies

 

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