Longboat Key Letters – Week ending September 29, 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.

Thank you for Irma!

To: Editor

Family members of those evacuated because of Irma were in a difficult position. Where would our loved ones go? Where might granny stay safe? Often, our parents and grandparents become comfortable in their “place” during retirement. The thoughts and fears were mounting, day by day. Some of our parents and grandparents landed safely in our homes, far from danger. But others stayed, tied to the idea that they should “batten down the hatches” or “go down with the ship” or somehow “protect their interests”.

That tune changed when the winds did and Irma shifted course directly towards the West coast of Florida, directly towards the Sarasota area as potential site for landfall.

That’s when Lillian Sands finally relented and left the Key for the Hyatt.

And what she found there was a community drawn together by a common bond. She met people she didn’t know, but mostly, she was introduced to a level of caring and service that went beyond what most people find in a hotel. Numerous times, she asked a staffer to do this or that and not once did they take a tip. The folks at the desk could not have been more understanding and accommodating when her family called, in a panic to ensure she was safe and sound.

And they appreciated the numerous thank yous given in an understanding that, well, they are people too–leaving their own frightened families to do their duty!

Thank you so much for keeping her safe!

Rebecca Oling

New York


Highs and lows of Irma

To: Editor

Now that it’s all over but the remaining clean up, I have a few ‘Yeas’ and ‘Boos’ about a few things. First of all, our Governor did a bang-up job. He kept us informed, got the gas trucks out, the roads open, help from other states (even Canada), etc. Our local officials and workers cannot be praised enough. I was particularly impressed with their work keeping the pumping stations working. I’ve seen a lot of letters saying the same about them.

The ‘Citizens’ Comfort Station set up at town hall was another ‘Yea.’ The take away lesson from it is to put it in place and have the information out to the public before the storm hits and the power’s out.

Now for some ‘Boos.’

Let’s start with FPL. Yes, they worked hard and did a fairly good job. However, if their grid system was up to snuff, they wouldn’t have had such a large problem. Don’t think that the upcoming undergrounding will fix the problem, either. According to our town manager (another great guy), many of the issues were with the feeder lines on the mainland.

Now for one of my pet ‘Boos’: the weathermen. I understand hurricanes are hard to predict. But you must understand, they have a vested interest in over dramatizing what might happen. Think about it: if they under predict, everybody will blame them, but if they over predict, people are just grateful and forget they were just as wrong. Well, I tend to remember that they were still wrong.

Maybe because we live right on a canal, about 8’ from the seawall and about 18” above mean high tide, I was mostly concerned about the predicted storm surge of 5’ to 8’ feet. We got zero. I never heard that in the forecast, not even when Irma dropped to a Cat 2 not long after hitting the mainland, having the south eye wall fall apart and it spinning off to the East of its projected track. Nope, it stayed at 5’ to 8’ long after it passed as only a Cat 1 (don’t bring up Jacksonville, that flooding was caused by the topography).

My last ‘Boo’ is for all of the reporters who have continued to dramatize how bad it was. Yes, Irma is on record as a Cat 5 hurricane but it was never predicted to hit Florida as one. At its worst, it was predicted to be a Cat 4; bad certainly, but not a 5. So stop making it sound like we narrowly avoided a Cat 5 hurricane.

In fact, it turned out to be a short lived Cat 3 and all we got here was a Cat 1. Just today I read one reporter here who referred to it as a ‘strong Cat 2.’ It wasn’t – look it up. In fact, to the best of my knowledge a Cat 5 hurricane has never made landfall in the states as a Cat 5 hurricane. Just think about this when and if a certain mainland newspaper reprints their map of a few years ago showing the only buildings in Bradenton that would be standing after a Cat 5 hurricane. Why even put that out? Just because a thing is possible doesn’t make it probable. Otherwise, we should be prepping for that asteroid or the cloning of the dinosaurs.

Lawrence Wilhelm

Longboat Key


Update and Re-Transmittal of Weather Warning System Report

To: Town Clerk Trish Granger, Town Manager Dave Bullock

While this is very valuable information. Once again let me say that despite all of the attempts the town has made and continues to make, we are still not communicating to a large portion of our population. I for one have never heard of this” Weather Service Radio”. I suspect I am not alone! The fact that our town website required you to scroll to the bottom and click on “Classic” in order to get important emergency information was not known by most of the population including me.

While I know that we are working very hard to provide the best and most up-to-date information to our residents, we still have many shortcomings. I applaud the efforts being made but don’t assume that we have solved all of the problems. As an example, I probably had to tell 100 people that they needed to sign up for Code Red the week of the storm! They didn’t know what it was. How does one find out where to buy the Weather Radios?

Jim Brown

Commissioner, Longboat Key


I-75 from north of University Parkway to south of SR 64 – Public Meeting

To: Town Clerk Trish Granger

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is hosting a public information meeting regarding design improvements to Interstate I-75 (I-75) from north of University Parkway to south of State Road (SR) 64 in Manatee County. This public meeting is Thursday, October 19, 2017 at Manatee Technical College, 6305 SR 70 East, Bradenton, Florida, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The meeting will be conducted as an open house where people can view the proposed design plans, ask questions, and provide comments to FDOT representatives about the reconstruction of the I-75/SR 70 interchange. A project PowerPoint presentation will play continuously throughout the meeting. Written comments will be received at the meeting and if received by October 30, 2017.

The study limits are I-75 from north of University Parkway to south of SR 64, a distance of 6.75 miles, and SR 70 from east of Tara Boulevard to west of 85th Street East, a distance of 1.5 miles. This project will include reconstruction of the SR 70 interchange from the existing interchange with loop ramps in the northwest and northeast quadrants, to a single loop ramp in the northwest quadrant. The project will also expand I-75 to an eight-lane highway with three through lanes and an auxiliary lane in each direction. The bridge over SR 70 will be rebuilt, and the I-75 bridges at Foley Creek and at Braden River will be widened.  SR 70 will be widened within the above stated limits, and safety enhancements, including sidewalks and buffered bike lanes, will be constructed.

FDOT is sending notices to property owners located within 300 feet either side of I-75 and SR 70 within the project limits. FDOT encourages all interested people to attend and express their views regarding the project and information presented.

The environmental review, consultation, and other actions required by applicable federal environmental laws for this project are being, or have been, carried out by the FDOT pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 327 and a Memorandum of Understanding dated December 14, 2016 and executed by the Federal Highway Administration and FDOT.

FDOT solicits public participation without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability, or family status. People who require special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or who require translation services (free of charge) should contact project manager Jeffrey Mednick. We need about one week advance notice to make arrangements.

For more information about the reconstruction of the I-75 interchange at SR 70 design project, please visit the project website www.i75manatee.com. We look forward to your participation at the meeting on October 19.

John Kubler

Florida Department of Transportation


Debris Hauling 

To: Town Manager Dave Bullock

Here is an update on the current debris hauling:

Cubic yards hauled away as of 9-25-17 = 2613

Town contract crews are averaging about 22 truckloads and 750 cubic yards a day.

Ashbritt Truck#1 has cleared from General Harris to Broadway including side streets and are currently in the Village today.

AshBritt Truck#2 has cleared from south bridge GMD to Spinnaker Lane including side streets and are currently in Country Club Shores at Bowsprit.

Ceres has cleared all of Longboat Club Road and is currently working on Harbourside Drive.

FDOT is working on clearing Gulf of Mexico Drive on the Manatee County side and has a contractor that will be clearing Sarasota County.

Mark Richardson

Parks & Recreation Manager, Longboat Key


Getting a handle on short-term rentals 

To: Vice Mayor Ed Zunz, Commissioner George Spoll, Commissioner Randy Clair, and Commissioner Jack Daly

I would like to thank the four of you for your intelligent questions and good comments regarding short-term rentals.  It is good to see that the Town is committed to getting a handle on this issue, which has gone unaddressed for too long.

As you stated, the Town has the 30-day rule and needs to enforce it.  Implementing a quicker time frame to issue citations for violations and enforcement with fines if non-compliance doesn’t occur, will go a long way to resolving short-term rentals.

I look forward to attending future workshops where the procedures for controlling these rentals will be introduced.

Linda Aitken

Longboat Key       


Getting a handle on short-term rentals

To: Linda Aitken

Thanks for your kind note.  I am glad you and Andy could make the meeting and I will keep you informed of further developments.

Ed Zunz

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key


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