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Longboat Key Letters – Week ending September 22, 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.

Longboat Key a ‘public partner’ in the face of Hurricane Irma

To: Mayor Terry Gans

The Sarasota County Commission intends to recognize your staff as one of our public partners at our regular commission meeting, Sept. 26. In the days leading up to, during, and following Hurricane Irma, Town Manager Dave Bullock and his staff were critical members of the leadership team that met twice daily to coordinate our preparation and response and ensure our public safety. On behalf of the County Commission, I wish to thank you for being part of this important team. We hope Mr. Bullock will be able to join us on Tuesday as we share our appreciation for their collaboration and behind-the-scenes work to protect our residents and visitors from the threat of Hurricane Irma.

Paul Caragiulo

Chairman

Sarasota County Commission

 

Please get the facts and use best  judgement in Colony redevelopment…

To: Mayor Terry Gans

I am a resident of Longboat Key and have been for the past seven years. As a resident, I am concerned about the Colony development. I, like all other residents, feel that the Colony as it now sits is a blight on the Town of Longboat. I have great interest in seeing the property developed. I want the project to reach fruition based on hard, true facts and not half-truths.

Consider the following: I was led to believe that the Colony Board and Colony Association approved the new plan submitted to the Town. However, the only plan submitted to the Town and Colony was the one that was rejected by both the citizens of Longboat Key and the individual Colony owners.

The Colony Board knows that its bylaws require 91 percent of the owners to approve any action of the Colony Board. It is my understanding that the Colony Board doesn’t have that percentage of approval, even though they say they do. I am told that a new plan showing 65 feet height has still not been presented to the town. I have a hard time understanding how the Colony Board could approve a plan that is not in existence that has not been submitted or approved by the Colony members, nor submitted to the town.

I was under the impression that, early on, Mr. Whittall said that they owned three-plus acres at the Colony, when in fact all that they had was an option to purchase the ground. To exercise the option they had to pay $21 million by June 1, 2017. It was reported that this sum was paid on the first of June. I would assume that if you paid the sum, you would receive a deed and have it recorded among the land records. I was told that there is no deed of record. Rumor says, no money was paid but the holders of the debt would step aside to givethe impression that money was paid, but they still are owed the whole sum.

I have been told that there is another person who states that he can rebuild the Colony, without asking any favors from the Town. His name is Manfred Welfonder. He states that he has all of the funds to build out the job. I believe he has been in contact with some of your staff.

My only concern is that you and your fellow members receive accurate factual information. I have no concern what compensation is paid or alleged to be paid to the individual Colony owners.

My only interest is for the residents of Longboat Key. We are all aware that Mr. Whittall is speaking on behalf of a Limited Liability Company. That without assets they are free of any liability. I only want to see the Colony become an asset to our community as it was many years ago.

It is to be understood that I personally have no knowledge of the truth and veracity of the foregoing statements. I know that you and your fellow Board Members will ascertain the true facts before you proceed. Thank you for your consideration and the great job that you and your fellow Board Members are doing.

John Rutledge

Longboat Key

 

Facts shall steer us in Colony — “as best they can be discerned”

To: John Rutledge

I am writing regarding your letter dated Sept. 7 that we received on Sept. 18. We share the intent of not being steered by anything other than facts, as best they can be discerned. The number of stories you have been presented with demonstrate how careful we all must be to deal only with reality.

Our role as a Commission is to respond to what is presented to us by those who have a legal right to do so. You may be confident that at such a time, the issue will be fully vetted and facts ascertained. We will proceed in an orderly and legal fashion.

Terry Gans

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

FPL outage map may lack accuracy

To: Town Manager Dave Bullock

I’m not confident that the transformer outage map on the FPL site has any degree of accuracy to it.  This morning, their overall report for Manatee shows 10 customers without service.  However, the transformers out of service indicators show are far higher number, including on the northern part of Longboat Key.

Do we know if everyone is back on in the Town?  The map indicates otherwise.

Terry Gans

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

I saw six trucks on north end…

To: Mayor Terry Gans

I don’t know if some remain out of power. I suspect there are some out in north end. I saw 6 power trucks in north end this morning working on lines. There were also a couple tree trucks with them so they were fixing something here around 8:30 a.m.

Dave Bullock

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Thanks for rhe donation, Mayor

To: Mayor Terry Gans

The sheriff has asked me to present you with a certificate of appreciation for your donations to our antique patrol car project.

I am presenting several of these at the Sarasota County Community Foundation on Fruitville Rd. next Tuesday (September 26) at approximately 2 p.m.

I was wondering if you’d be able to attend this meeting to accept your certificate.

We can always work out a plan B if this is not convenient for you.

Kevin Lynch

Lt. Ret.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

 

Turtle lighting violation stats

To: Town Commission

The following is a breakdown of the efforts made to date (09-19-2017) towards enforcing Turtle Lighting and Beach obstructions for the 2017 Turtle Season. There isn’t a significant increase in enforcement since the last report due to Hurricane Irma.

Code Enforcement Officer performed 24 inspections

Community Service Specialist performed 8 nighttime inspections and tagged 50 different furniture violations during the nighttime patrol of the beach

Patrol Officers tagged 16 beach furniture violations

68 Beach obstructions (chairs, umbrellas, etc.)

68 were issued 24 hour tags (43 cases came into compliance, 1 case we removed and impounded the furniture).

1 issued courtesy notice

2 resulted in written cases

32 cases were opened for lighting violations

18 were closed with voluntary compliance

12 are active and we are working with property owners/ managers to bring into compliance.

1 is active and has been forwarded to the Code Enforcement Board

Lighting survey for beach project was conducted the beginning of May and again in July per permit requirement. CEO documented 136 cases where lights were observed from the beach.

116 first class letters were sent to physical address and secondary listed address with an educational brochure and letter from the Town

20 street-lights were noted and an email was sent to Public Works to contact FP&L

375 email complaints on lighting and furniture from Turtle Watch and other volunteers, residents, and visitors.

49 complaints on 23 properties found in violation and Code Enforcement initiated action. (19 Courtesy Notices for lighting violations, 1 Courtesy Notice for furniture violations, 3 Notices Code Violation for lighting violations, and 7 properties tagged for furniture.

The remaining 326 email complaints are either under investigation or unsubstantiated due to insufficient information or found not in violation.

Of the 375 email complaints, all email complaints on a property with a real property owner/manager resulted in a letter from the town and an educational brochure on the town’s marine turtle protection ordinance being mailed to the property owner/property manager.

Dave Bullock

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Dissecting and bisecting the Storm

To: Town Clerk Trish Granger

A very good bud of mine who lives in CCS, along with the Krepela’s in Bay Isles both face to the east abutting Sarasota Bay directly into the easterly/north easterly winds of the storm Irma.

My friend lost power and those other comforts, Internet, phone and TV during the storm.

Krepela’s in Bay Isles never lost power and along with FiOs, those other now necessities of life.

Can the dots be connected that having FPL power and our service provider’s fiber

underground have made the difference? Strong case those are the facts!

If so, great PR that our residents certainly made the right decision to underground FPL power and own the fiber network, the spine for our future

wireless mesh network.

Oh yes, it is our belief that James Linkogle, Juan and their troop’s should get a medal for keeping the poop flowing.  All it took initially was moving portable generators to the lift stations that lost power, and then obtaining five FEMA skid generators, one additional from North Port, etc. and lots of experience and loss of sleep!  We are very thankful.  Additional accolades to our Incident Commander (IC) Dave Bullock and his assistant IC Susan Phillips for all their training, experience, dedication and also loss of sleep, a job well done.

Ann Marie and Ed Krepela

Longboat Key

 

FPL: the last ones are the hardest…

To: Rae Dowling

The information we get is in ones and twos at this point.  In all cases I’ve heard, people have called FPL, and are expressing frustration, which is understandable.  In this instance, you are correct that my concern was in any potential miscommunication.

We realize that the final 900 are always the most difficult in the sequence of response, or else they would already be connected.  That realization doesn’t diminish the eagerness for resolution, or increase patience for anyone—including, I am confident, yourself.

Terry Gans

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

FPL: 900 without power after 5 days

To: Mayor Terry Gans

I think I misunderstood your note, I thought people were contacting the town and that you might have had a list that you wanted us to check on.  We absolutely want to be the contact for the residents when they are out of power, and they should be calling us.  We do know when people are out of service  and unfortunately sometimes the automation of information occasionally provides misinformation to residents.  I have heard of a few cases of that, but very isolated and we’ve been able to track how it happened.

If people are out of service and they are concerned that we might not know, and they are calling the town, please encourage them to call the number below and report it.   As an update to the status of power outages in the Town, after Irma passed our service territory, 10,400 people on LBK experienced an outage.  After 5 days of restoration we have restored service to more than 9,500 and less than a 900 still remaining without service.    Our crews are still in the field restoring service, working around the clock and we will not stop until they all have been restored.

Rae Dowling

Florida Power & Light

 

Wishing you quick success 

To:  Rae Dowling

Unfortunately, we don’t have a census of who has or is without. That’s something to think about for the future, although it may be best to have FPL be the contact point to avoid possible confusion.

While I’m of course concerned for those powerless as you work your way down through the final outages, and want them restored ASAP, I wanted you to have what was reported as a possible miscommunication.

Wishing you quick success in total restoration.

Terry Gans

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Let me know if condios are without power still…

To: Mayor Terry Gans

Thank you for this information and if there are large condo’s or buildings that are still out of service and you could provide those addresses to me, we can follow up on those.

If they are individual homes, they can call 1-800-4outage / 1-800-468-8243 to ensure we have a ticket for those locations and that also provides the opportunity for them to speak with our customer service representatives.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any specific issues.

Rae Dowling

Florida Power & Light 

 

They say info is wrong…

To: Rae Dowling

We are getting people coming into Town Hall in Longboat from 5757 GMD and nearby along GMD who say the FPL site shows them repaired and they are not. As well as those who are out and need people to vent to.

Terry Gans

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Thanks for patience, cooperation

To: Manatee and Sarasota Community Leaders

First and foremost I want to thank you for your support and patience with FPL as we have worked non-stop to restore electric service to community.  The leadership, partnership and cooperation that we have experienced has been tremendous and I know we couldn’t have been as effective in our restoration efforts without each of you and your teams.

Earlier this week, after our initial assessment of the work in front of us, we provided an estimated date of restoration of the electric facilities of Friday September 22.

This morning  4 ½  days post storm, restoration is more than 78 percent complete and we are projected to be completed several days earlier than originally estimated. Manatee and Sarasota counties are now both on track to reach 90 percent restoration Monday and be essentially complete on Wednesday September 20th.

Here is where we are with our numbers right now in Sarasota and Manatee

County Affected Restored Out Total Accts.

Manatee 132,710 107,830 24,880 184,900

Sarasota 218,840 174,300 44,540 263,800

Total 351,550 282,130 69,420 448,700

As a reminder, as we move into the hardest-hit areas of the county we’re spending hours clearing debris before it is safe for crews to reach powerlines and begin work so the process does begin to slow down moving forward.

Please see the attached press release with additional details about the restoration effort overall and know that we continue to work around the clock to get every light.. and air conditioner…back online safely and as quickly as we can.

The pictures below are examples of the effort that has been required to restore service here in our area.  Also, I  may have missed someone on my distribution so please feel free to pass this along to your colleagues and teams. Thank you again for your leadership and

Rae Dowling

Florida Power & Light

 

Longboat Key makes list of best small towns

To: Commissioner Jim Brown

We recently did a study on the most popular US towns to relocate to with populations under 10,000. We thought you’d be pleased to know Longboat Key made the list.

Are you a native to Longboat Key? I’d love to include a brief quote from you or another city official on why you think people are choosing to move to Longboat Key.

The study was fairly simple. People come to our website to get prices on long distance moving options, (we’re similar to travel sites like Travelocity or Expedia but for relocation).

We looked at the thousands of searches we’ve had over the past year to see which cities and towns in the US are being searched the most as a destination to relocate to.

In the smaller city/town category (<10k population) Longboat Key ranked in the top 50 most searched cities.

Please let me know if you can give us a short quote for the article we are publishing on the study.

Cristina Tyris

Outreach Coordinator

Move Buddha 

 

To: Cristina Tyris

As I hope you can imagine, all of Florida is in preparation for the arrival of hurricane Irma. I don’t have time today to respond to your request. As a commissioner on Longboat Key, my current focus is on making sure LBK residents are safe. Maybe at a later time.

Jim Brown

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

We’re looking to publish in the next two weeks, so the sooner the better.

Cristina Tyris

Outreach Coordinator

Move Buddha 

 

Waste water under control!

To: Town Commission

Thanks to City of North Port, FEMA (thanks to Sarasota County EOC) James Linkogle, Juan, Isaac, and all the  LBK utility crew we finally have our waste water system under control. Our guys can get some rest.

Dave Bullock

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Cortez Road Bridge – Town of Longboat Key Comments

To: FDOT Marlon Bizerra

Marlon: our comments were delayed by Irma.  I hope FDOT can still accept our input. These represent the official Town of Longboat Key comments on the Cortez Bridge replacement. Please let me know if there are any questions.

Hope all the FDOT family is ok after the storm. I know you guys have lots of work to do. Good luck.

Dave Bullock

Town Manager

Longboat Key 

 

Waiver of Town Code Sound Regulations for Storm Related Debris Cleanup and Emergency Repairs

The Town Manager is waiving regulations contained in Town Code Section 130.02(C)(f) Construction & Demolition, (g) Emergency signaling devices or testing of equipment and (i) domestic power tools beginning today at 5:00 PM through Friday, September 22 at midnight to allow those without power to run generators 24 hours and allow power equipment used in clean up to run during daylight hours. This waiver will assist residents as they continue to run generators, perform emergency construction work on their homes, and clean up their property during the storm recovery period.

This waiver does not extend to currently issued construction permits.  It is only for debris clean-up, repairs, and emergency permits as a result of IRMA.

Dave Bullock

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

SBA Disaster Assistance for Businesses and Residents Expands

To: Town Commission

Please see the attached SBA disaster assistance news release for Florida due to Hurricane Irma.  The U.S. Small Business Administration has added more counties to the disaster declaration in Florida affected by Hurricane Irma that began on Sept. 4, 2017.

The disaster declaration covers the counties of Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Desoto, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Saint Johns, Saint Lucie, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia in Floridawhich are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA.  Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Levy and Nassau in Florida.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.  Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes.  Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.  Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate.  Homeowners and renters are eligible up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates are as low as 3.305 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, 1.75 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.  Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by mobile device at m.fema.gov.  If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.

Additional details on the locations of Disaster Recovery Centers and the loan application process can be obtained by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.  Completed applications should be returned to a recovery center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 9, 2017.  The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 11, 2018.

Debra Freeland, Public Affairs Specialist is coordinating the outreach for this declaration and can be reached at Debra.freeland@sba.gov or 404-895-7185.

Please feel free to distribute this release to any of your local contacts, so we can make the widest possible distribution for those affected and those that may be interested.  We will provide updated information as it becomes available.

Jay MacKenna

Public Affairs Specialist

U.S. Small Business Administration

Office of Disaster Assistance

Field Operations Center East

101 Marietta Street, NW

Suite 700

Atlanta, GA 30303-2725

Telephone: (404) 331-0333

 

Cortez Road Bridge should be a fixed-span says Longboat

To: Florida Department of Transportation

The Town of Longboat Key strongly endorses the 65-foot high fixed bridge option and encourages FDOT to move forward with this alternative.

The fixed span bridge provides a significant reduction in travel time delay related to bridge openings and maintenance interruptions, which has a positive impact to barrier island residents and visitors coming from and going to island areas north and south of Cortez Road.  Neither drawbridge alternative offers the same or similar travel time improvements.

This section of Cortez Road is part of a Hurricane Evacuation Route.  The 65-foot fixed span bridge provides greater assurance of operability and vehicular clearance during and after a strong storm event.

The 65-foot fixed span bridge makes the most business and financial sense based on initial capital costs and substantial long-term maintenance costs in providing a reliable 75-year piece of critical infrastructure.  It also minimizes construction impacts as compared to the no build/repair scenario as presented.

The fixed span bridge provides uninterrupted pedestrian and bicycle access, while allowing 98% of vessels to pass underneath, based on the study sample data.  In fact, higher fixed span bridges offer unexpected recreation opportunities for residents and visitors.  For example, one cannot pass over the John Ringling fixed span bridge without seeing people walking and enjoying the view during every daylight hour.

In addition, the rendered concepts shown at the public hearing illustrate the space under the bridge becoming a useable public amenity and recreation space as well, as offering a much more efficient component of the roadway network by connecting 127th Street West to the south without having to cross Cortez Road.

Other communities have seen high fixed span bridges replace drawbridges with great success.  For example, the City of Sarasota went from initially objecting to the higher fixed span bridge (during the planning process) to embracing it as a defining element of their city. The John Ringling Causeway is now considered an iconic landmark and is a prominent and celebrated component of the Sarasota landscape.

The conceptual renderings illustrate minimizing impacts related to the bridge approach and touchdown areas.

We appreciate FDOT’s careful analysis of options.  We applaud FDOT’s simultaneous effort to find solutions to improve travel times, to enhance the public’s experience on and around the bridge, and to pursue the best alternative etc.

We would recommend that, concurrent to the bridge design and construction efforts, FDOT also review and improve the signalized intersection offset at Harbor Landings Drive/119th Street West @ Cortez Road, if not already in progress.  Once the alignment is improved, we would also recommend ensuring the best coordinated signal arrangement possible between this signal and the Gulf Drive North (SR 789) @ Cortez Road to the west of the bridge.

Town of Longboat Key

Comments to FDOT

 

 

 

 

 

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