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Longboat Key Letters – Week ending August 18, 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.

Unicorp responds to letters…

I hear a couple things over and over and want to address them.

First the reason that we do not have tennis courts is that while the Colony has been closed for over 7 years The Town of Longboat Key and also The Longboat Key Club have developed first class tennis facilities. Our focus is going to be on a beach and spa resort with a focus on health and well being.

Secondly, I see mention of the viability of a 5 Star hotel on Longboat.

We have completed an extensive study performed by Ernst & Young and the report Cleary demonstrates that a 5 Star hotel will be successful in Longboat Key. There are already several 4 Star hotels in the market. This will be the 2nd Five Star hotel on the west coast of Florida and won’t compete with other resorts on The Key.

Lastly, let’s discuss experience. Our development company has been developing for well over 20 years and we have built over 3 Billion Dollars of high end projects. We were just named by the Orlando Business Journal as developer of the year for 2017. Of course we will not operate the hotel, we are developers. That’s why we will have the best of the best hotel companies operate it.

Charles L (Chuck) Whittall

Unicorp

 

One more thing…

To clear up confusion Unicorp has a signed agreement with The Colony and we are the chosen developer and the AGREEMENT IS IN FULL FORCE.  Anything stated to the contrary is incorrect.

Charles L (Chuck) Whittall

Unicorp

 

A death waiting to happen

In your LBK Newsletter dated August 4th there were several letters written about Bike Safety.  The thing that really amazes me, no one ever writes about the people that ride up and down GMD on recumbent bikes, a couple without any warning flags or flashing lights.  To me this is a death wish waiting to happen.  Florida has some crazy laws, but this is truly a serious safety issue.  The bike lanes are not wide enough for this type of biking.

Sandy Endres

Longboat Key

 

Sad News

Dear Board Members:

I learned of some sad news today. John Ryan, President & CEO of Venice Area Chamber of Commerce suffered a heart attack today and subsequently passed away.

John had recently celebrated his 20th year as President of the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce. He was a tenacious champion for the businesses of Venice, and will be sorely missed.

Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Mark Huey

Sarasota

 

Fire Department Strategic Planning To: Town Commission

The Fire Department is in the process of working on our annual strategic plan.  Part of our plan is to ask our community leaders their thoughts on the department and its service to the community.  Attached you will find a survey that I am asking each of you to fill out.  If you would complete this and place it in the Fire Department mailbox at Town Hall that would be great.  If you would rather simply email it back to me that would be fine as well.

I want to thank you for your input, in advance, as we are always trying to enhance our services to both the internal and external customers!

Paul B. Dezzi

Fire Chief

Longboat Key,

 

What about pedestrian safety?

To: Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director Dave Hutchinson

Appreciate your sending the executive summary update. Our staff and I do have some feedback and questions at this stage.

Can you advise us at which point, if any, pedestrian safety concerns will be factored in?  The executive summary only refers to pedestrians and cyclists matters as conflicts, which seems to ignore our downtown-urbanized reality as well as the more recent representations from FDOT that they are pursuing complete street strategies and multi-modal options.

Florida and its historic, highway strip mall mentality, has resulted in the state being the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians and bicyclists.  More troubling is that our MPO is in the top ten most dangerous districts in the country.

Without an equal emphasis on pedestrian safety and speed reductions in our urbanized areas of the system, the dangers will increase dramatically. According to NTSB data, only 1 in ten pedestrians will survive when struck at 40 m.p.h. speeds. Forty-five mile per hour speeds on US 41 speeds through downtown Sarasota are not unusual. FYI, in downtown Sarasota our pedestrian activity is skyrocketing and we expect it to double over the next 24 months. I am concerned these very dangerous realities are not being factored into the study and at best may be an afterthought.

Will the report begin to identify multi-modal options and communications strategies to alert motorists heading to the barrier islands that there may be delays during peak hours, seasons and events. In our area of the system the ROW either simply does not exist or would be extremely expensive to obtain in terms of any notion to try to build our way out of this situation as demographics trends continue to indicate the baby boomer generation and the millennials just behind them will continue.

IMO, traffic calming, speed reduction strategies, heavy pedestrian zone strategies must be incorporated into this study along with getting serious about advancing multi-modal planning and funding.   If done, the results will be helpful in getting many of the millions of people who visit our city comfortable moving about as pedestrians and therefore lessening vehicular congestions opening space for those heading to or from the barrier islands.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

Sarasota

 

Thank you for sharing…

To: City of Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

Thank you very much for sharing your (and other City of Sarasota staff) comments on the Barrier Islands Traffic Study.

I also noticed the reference to pedestrians and cyclists as conflicts, and am confident that all of the issues you mentioned will be carefully considered and incorporated into the study and recommendations being developed by the consultants under the guidance of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Hopefully these important concerns can be included in the presentation to the MPO Board in October.

David L. Hutchinson

Executive Director

Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization

 

Barwin’s ‘rigid philosophical box’

To: Town Manager Dave Bullock

Mr. Barwin appears to continue in his rigid philosophical box. Comparing the reality of the entrance to downtown Sarasota from the barrier islands to historic highway strip mall development is such a ludicrous argument it would be laughable, I say would be because when one entity—through the position of a public official—refuses to deal with reality in pursuit of creation of a New York or Philadelphia manner of pedestrian/vehicle relationship, it is creating a deliberately hostile situation.  When Mr. Barwin claims constraint because of limited right-of-way, one has to reflect upon the decisions that limited said rights-of-way.

We are not cavalier about pedestrian movements.  But to hold the pedestrian part of the equation far above the other factors again is a refusal to recognize the real part the City of Sarasota plays in the regional traffic network.

If this comes across as angry, it is because I am.  It seems thus far that any attempt to have serious discussions with he City toward addressing the entire situation is met with a stone wall.  I am disappointed that he and the City continue to relate in this manner.

Terry Gans

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

And thank you, too, for sharing…

To: Mayor Terry Gans

Thank you for sharing your comments on Mr. Barwin’s e-mail regarding the Barrier Islands Traffic Study.

I trust you don’t mind that I am sharing them with FDOT District Secretary L.K. Nandam and the study project manager Tricia LaBud.

Safety and congestion are both important issues and the study will address both with a variety of recommendations related to improving pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular safety, and to addressing seasonal and peak congestion and delay issues within the study area. Hopefully the study will provide a basis for cooperative and productive discussions among jurisdictions as implementation of recommendations is considered. My belief is that all parties involved are interested in changes which can have a positive effect on our regional transportation network including enhancing the safety of our system for all users.

David L. Hutchinson

Executive Director

Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization

 

Not usually ‘unrestrained’

To: Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director Dave Hutchinson

Perfectly fine to share. I’m not usually that unrestrained.

Terry Gans

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Cortez Road Safety Improvements Project Update

To: Town Clerk Trish Granger

FDOT has made a determination on interim and ultimate improvements to the Cortez Road at 119th Street intersection.

I know that many Longboat Key residents use Cortez Road to reach points north and east, and several attended the public hearing on May 9, 2017; so, I wanted to ensure the City was aware of the decision.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has evaluated the public comments received from the May 9, 2017 Public Hearing.  Based on the public comments and additional meetings with property owners, FDOT is moving forward with the interim and ultimate improvements for the intersection as discussed below.

Interim Improvements

The interim improvement will be constructed as a part of the overall safety improvements project and should be operational by the end of the year.  The eastbound signal will only be activated by pedestrians which allows traffic to “free flow” eastbound off the islands.  A stop sign will be installed on the south leg of 119th Street West allowing motorists to turn onto Cortez Road without waiting for a signal.  The signal for westbound Cortez Road will remain to accommodate southbound to eastbound 119th Street West traffic.

Ultimate Improvements

FDOT is pursuing approval of the permanent realignment of the intersection through the Florida Maritime Museum property.  The realignment option received the most support from attendees at the public hearing.  In addition, medians will not be constructed west of 119th Avenue as part of the permanent improvements.

The attached flyer will be mailed to property owners in the vicinity of the project and to citizens who attended the recent Public Hearing. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Brian Bollas, GISP

Community Outreach Manager

Florida Department Of Transportation

 

Compliments about the communication process regarding the homicides

To: Town Commission

The great work done by law enforcement in identifying the perpetrator is widely recognized and admired by all.

In addition, there is another aspect of the process that is less well recognized but equally commendable.

The whole communication process from the Town to the public was excellent. Mayor Gans made only a brief comment (that I am aware of) and the rest of the communication came only from Chief Cumming or the Assistant Chief, who both always spoke with quiet confidence.

In today’s world, where everyone seems to want their 15 minutes of fame, it was refreshing and reassuring to see that Longboat Key lets our professional police officials take the lead on police matters.

Tom Freiwald 

Longboat Key

 

To: Tom Freiwald

I appreciate your recognition of the highly professional way Chief Cumming managed the communications while in the middle of a highly stressful investigation.

The press conference was particularly impressive.

Even though there was no meeting or discussion, everyone not directly responsible for the investigation knew to stand aside and not detract from the focus, even for a moment. That is a reflection of the confidence in which Chief Cumming and his force is held.

Terry Gans 

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Compliments about the communication process regarding the homicides

To: Mayor Terry Gans

Mayor Gans, it is also a positive reflection on the overall leadership philosophy and examples set over time by the Town Manager and Commission. It is exemplified in your statement, “Even though there was no meeting or discussion. . .everyone knew to stand aside. . .” The only reason everyone knew is because of good leadership along the way.

Tom Freiwald 

Longboat Key

 

Thank you

To: Town Commission

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for attending the press conference this morning.  It was comforting to see the show of support from our community leaders.

The law enforcement community worked diligently to capture this suspect, ensuring Longboat Key continues as a safe community.

I simply wanted to thank you all for your attendance and support through this past week.

Paul B. Dezzi

Fire Chief

Longboat Key

 

Thank you

To: Fire Chief Paul Dezzi

The thanks go in the other direction.  Once again the entire town can be so comforted and proud of the work of our police and fire departments.

Ed Zunz

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

 

The New Park

To: Recreation Director Mark Richardson

Mark Richardson has overseen the best town park I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. I took my visiting family there because my 16 and 14 year old grandsons love to play basketball. How exciting to find all the other activities the family can do. My two granddaughters and their mother and I enjoyed playing shuffleboard, walking the trails, fishing, and 5 year old Meredith played on the climbing set. The next time we brought Daisy, the dog.  She loves the park too. All the facilities are so well done. The bathrooms are well situated, and the availability of nice, cold, water fountains topped everything off.

Oh, and the kayak launch and concession for kayaks and paddleboards added on top!  Who could ask for more?

My only fear is the discovery of the park and its proximity to the public beach will have people by the carloads coming to visit the key, and I won’t blame them.

Well done to all those who made it such a success.

Patricia Wermuth

Longboat Key

 

 

 

 

 

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