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Longboat Key Letters – Week ending September 1, 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.

Culpability by inaction

To: Editor

My name is Tom Mayers and I have lived at the North End of Longboat Key for all my life. About 1965 I saved a girl who was drowning at the same location where the “Fun Barge” has chosen for its semi-permanent location. This seems a dangerous location for any activity much less a commercial enterprise enticing novices to come and play in pass waters that are some of the most dangerous on the West Coast of Florida. We have been told that the operators have all of the necessary permits and have every right to conduct the activities that they have conducted over the past many months. My question is, do they and you have the common sense to know that you are encouraging activities that are dangerous to human lives? These pass waters can exceed the speed that an excellent swimmer can swim. There are many other reasons that you should consider as there is no parking area for patrons and many people trespass on private property in order to get to the “Fun Barge.” Add to the safety and trespassing issues the issues of no restrooms for patrons, possible sign violations and traffic problems on the bridge. Are the people who operate the business even trained lifeguards? My final question is who will be responsible if someone drowns while using this unattractive nuisance? Will it be the fault of the owners of the business, the Town Commissioners, the County Commissioners or the local police who have allowed this activity to continue? There is an alternative location near the Coquina Beach boat ramp. There are public parking areas, restrooms, less current and easier access for police and lifeguards there. Thank you for considering my suggestion.

Tom Mayers

Longboat Key

 

Re: Culpability by inaction

To: Tom Mayers

I’ve wondered about many of the things you are questioning. I hope our officials are following the proper procedure when they review the legality of this business. I’m all for free enterprise but someone needs to make sure this business is operating fully within the law! Especially when it comes to public safety.

Jim Brown

Commissioner

Longboat Key

To: Commissioner Jim Brown

Thanks Jim, I am an old lifeguard and I know that this pass can be dangerous.  You may ask the lawyer if there could be a liability issue.  This was a FYI notice.

Tom Mayers

Longboat Key

 

Newspaper article on FDOT

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

I’m a winter resident (November – May) of Longboat Key and read the article in the Longboat Observer dated June 15th, 2017: “Daly to FDOT: Swing for the fences.”

I’ve been a resident of Longboat Key since 1997 but for many years previous dating back to the late 50’s, I visited Longboat with my family and by virtue of my rather long history with the island, I’ve watched the changes both good and bad – mostly good.  My husband and I are active participants not only with organizations/groups on the Key but also with the same in Sarasota; therefore, we join others who are very concerned about the future of both places but most especially Longboat in light of the ever increasing traffic issues.

The second paragraph of the June 15th article was most distressing to me beginning with the sentence reading, “In May, FDOT announced the kickoff of the $675,000 project in which the department will collect and analyze data to determine remedies for traffic problems on Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island and Lido Key, including the three accesses at State Road 64, Cortez Road and John Ringling Parkway.”

It is so patently obvious to any clear thinking person that the only “remedy” is a bridge to Longboat from the mainland, and it is spinning wheels and throwing good money after bad to expect any other “remedy.” Of course that would be expensive and involved, but it is the only solution. Another suggestion is one which I haven’t heard or read about which would be far less costly and that would be to build a causeway near the stop light at Bird Key. The water is shallow there, there wouldn’t be the Intercostal to consider, and the causeway would stretch from Bird Key Park to City Island.  This is an alternative to a high bridge from the mainland over the Intercostal to Longboat Key and although it wouldn’t relieve the traffic issue at Gulf Stream and 41, it would divert traffic from going through St. Armand’s Circle.

Take that $675,000 and put it to good use somewhere other than putting bandaids on an elephant.  Swing for the fences!

Susan Clarke

Longboat Key

 

City of Sarasota Traffic/Development Issues

To: Editor

I attended the City of Sarasota Commission meeting referenced in your article. I think the outcome of the Commission vote would have been different had not the three left turn lane construction been a temporary improvement. The Town of Longboat Key officials need to accept the fact that the City of Sarasota’s downtown area will be crowded with pedestrians who need to be safely accommodated by traffic control systems that will slow and delay traffic flow. Triple left turns from the Ringling Bridge to northbound North Tamiani Trail and a dedicated right turn lane to Fruitville Road are not necessarily conducive to pedestrian safety.

However, in the same breath City of Sarasota officials speak of pedestrian safety, they are allowing eighteen story buildings with little or no building setbacks resulting in sidewalks looking like they have been given a sidewalk diet not a road diet. Urban downtown streets need to provide decently sized sidewalks with provision for a street tree canopy for rain and sun protection as well as for an attractive streetscape. The city has made streetscape improvements to make the pedestrian experience enjoyable. However, there is a lack of an overall plan to establish an interconnected and consistent pedestrian system with sidewalk standards. It is like strolling through a forest and then trudging through a desert in the same downtown area.

In a larger context, what is needed is a multi-jurisdictional Transportation Demand Management Plan that provides for alternative means to access downtown Sarasota other than through the predominant use of the private automobile. Such a plan needs to include the regulation of parking. Too generous parking allowances (especially free parking) can only induce more vehicles to clog streets and sit idly in parking garages consuming precious urban space and adding to unsightly building mass.

Larry Grossman

Longboat Key

 

Barrier Island Traffic Study (BITS) Discussion

To: Town Manager Dave Bullock

This is a follow up to confirm my discussion today with FDOT Secretary Nandam and Tricia Labud (coordinator of the BITS) with respect to a positive response to my 8/23 email to the Secretary. He confirmed that FDOT will advise the consultant for the BITS that the Study will indeed identify potential improvements to the Fruitville-Gulfstream US 41 corridor,that may mitigate Traffic issues on the Key, in addition to the ongoing FDOT plans for the corridor; a meaningful change to the  consultant’s comments in Phase 1 of the  BITS.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Flooding

To: Town Commission

We’re monitoring all areas of the Key for flooding. Have confirmed flooding in usual areas, some reported power outages, we expect more rising waters. Have police, fire, and public works crews on ground and will keep close eye out in case homes or people are endangered. Best thing is for everyone to stay home.

Dave Bullock

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Flooding on Gulf of Mexico Drive

To: Town Commission

Three-day rainfall totals as of this morning range from 7.5” to 16.9” depending on where on the island. Mid-key had the highest readings. We experienced flooding on a couple sections of GMD that will need attention. The area around the Zota continues to be a problem. It is draining but is very slow. The 5,000 block of GMD flooded over the weekend and remains passable but flooded.  Public Works staff is investigating what is going on this area. This is not a usual area for continued flooding. We are suspecting a blocked drain somewhere in the system. We have notified FDOT and will work with them to figure out the problem.

During the heaviest rain there was additional street flooding but fortunately the tides were not very high and much of the rain fell on the falling tides so water drained off relatively quickly.

We should expect additional heavy rain through Tuesday with typical local road flooding with the heaviest rain.

The wastewater system is working to capacity but has handled the flow without any overflow.  Utility crews continue to maintain the lift stations which were put to the test.

Overall, we fared pretty well compared to some other areas. Our crews will continue to work on drainage and wastewater systems to assure proper operations. Had this event occurred at a higher tide we probably would have had more problems.

Dave Bullock

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

The success of the three-lane proposal

To: Mayor Terry Gans

Sarasota’s Commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of the three-lane idea, thanks in part I think by the moxie shown by you and the other barrier island leaders. We like it when your comments are “unrestrained.”

Tom Freiwald 

Longboat Key

 

To: Tom Freiwald

Thank you. This is a shared success, with much credit going to Longboat Key staff, members of the community, L.K. for having a mindset of trying to improve things, and finally the five members of the Sarasota City Commission for having open minds where reality was able to overcome philosophy. Special thanks to Commissioner Brody for getting the item on the agenda, and to Commissioner Shaw and Mayor Eddie for their leadership. Let’s build on this spirit of cooperation.

Terry Gans

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Winslow Place and Buttonwood Drive

To: Homeowner Association members of Winslow Place and Buttonwood Drive

I have spent some time looking into the request for Town action related to the private property issues adjacent to Winslow Place. Three attachments provide background and information that I have found helpful. One attachment is from 2004 from the homeowner’s association members to the property owners of the problem lots describing the same concerns that have been voiced recently.

Two of the attached PDFs show the area with parcels and road locations. It seems Winslow Place is a private road surrounded by privately owned lots. As I understand it, the vegetation growing in the lots owned by Landmark Bank from time to time falls onto the private lots or the private road. The vegetation may also damage the fence along the private road.  I also observed what may be dumping of vegetative matter on the parcels owned by the Bank.

Town code Section 104.16 (A) states: “For the purpose of promoting the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the town, every owner of a lot or parcel of land adjacent to a public street or road right-of-way, canal or other navigable waterway, is required to prevent any overgrowth of trees and shrubs which interfere with vehicular traffic…”  This provision of the code limits Town code action to property adjacent to a public street or road right-of-way.

Over the past several months code enforcement has issued two notices to the owners of 500 and 597 Buttonwood for accumulation of rubbish (brush) which were corrected.  This was handled by code enforcement since the problem was adjacent to a public road.

Summary: Town code does not authorize the Town to take enforcement action for private road infringement from trees or brush. There are civil procedures available for affected landowners.

If the owners of the private road want to petition the Town to take ownership and responsibility for Winslow Place we can provide the process to follow.

The Town may only expend public resources and perform those activities that have a public purpose. If debris falls into the road or is posing an immediate threat of falling across the road (public or private) please contact our public works department or the police non-emergency (during off hours) and we will respond. We have public works folks on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We will clear blocked roads (public or private) because it poses a public safety hazard. The Town cannot trim trees or brush on private property or conduct clean up or clearing activities on private property when the activity is not specifically required or authorized by our code.

Dave Bullock

Town Manager

Longboat Key 

 

 

 

 

 

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