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Longboat Key Letters – Week ending March 30, 2018

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.

Pedestrian crossing lights

To:Editor

This is the husband of the woman, Jo Schatterman, that was hit and killed in 2012 while attempting to cross Gulf of Mexico Drive to go to the Islander Club Condos.  The last time that I talked to Plublic Works in Long Boat Key, 4 crossing lights have been installed, but not at the Islander Club.  I recommended that there should be crossing lights at each bus stop where bus riders have to cross Gulf of Mexico drive after exiting the bus or do not let passengers off the bus if they have to cross the Gulf of Mexico Drive. I have a condo in Aventura and the County has installed 5 of these crossing lights around the Turnberry Golf Course that I live on.  I like to walk to the local stores rather than take the car and I find the crossing lights are very helpful.  The only issue I have with our crossing lights is, that in my opinion, the yellow flashing lights are not as visible as they should be during daylight.  At night they are very visible. I appreciate the efforts by the State and local governments to make pedestrian crossings safer.

Tom Schatterman

Longboat Key

 

A dangerous change

To: Editor

Every time I see a headline announcing the possibility of a rotary or a roundabout at our most dangerous, most congested intersection in Sarasota, I feel sick. That will mean that no one will ever get off Longboat Key. It is bad enough now when it takes hours to get to Sarasota, so long that I miss concerts and plays which I have subscribed to. I changed my symphony tickets to Neal Auditorium, and I have not been able to get to a single concert in Bradenton. After you have sat for an hour in the dark in a line of cars which is not moving, the concert loses its appeal.

I don’t know what would happen if we had a life or death situation with an ambulance trying to get off Longboat Key because there is no room for any vehicle to move. I understand that towing companies won’t come to Longboat Key or Siesta Key during season because they just get stuck in traffic and lose money. Didn’t any planners think of the people who live here?

I have driven on rotaries most of my life in Masschusetts and I know they take skillful driving and split-second decision-making skills. Sarasota is filled with tourists and elderly people, a population which cannot navigate such difficulties. I drive around St. Armand’s Circle daily and know that the car ahead of me will come to a complete stop before it decides that it might move slowly forward into the Circle. I curse because I already have my light blinking and know exactly how I will move.  And then a car with no warning cuts in front of me to go to Lido. I have learned to look for these cars which will cut in front of me with no warning, but the stranger in town has no idea what is going on. So he stops again. It is a jerky and slow ride. But I am a resident of this area for twenty years now. Visitors have so such experience to help them. My daughter from Canada had the experience of her life when she faced a car going the wrong way on St. Armand’s Circle.

People say that the little roundabouts in Sarasota keep cars moving. They do because there is little traffic. They actually slow down traffic and keep it moving once people know how to use them. But this huge intersection where four major roads meet will be slowed down so much that traffic will stop. And the accidents will be many. Although the crazy shifting and adding new lanes which is being tried now causes confusion, because no one knows which lane they are supposed to be in if they want to turn, I have seen only one accident. But the lights are getting longer and longer.

And I have heard that Sarasota is planning to add people on foot to this confusion.  No, no. There is no room for people on foot with befuddled drivers all trying to figure out where they should be driving next.  We’ll all be too busy with our eyes on the car ahead to notice people in the streets.

The only solutions to this terrible intersection which is always blocked is to go up and get the traffic to drive over the mess below. This is what Boston had to do and I see it as the only solution for the situation we are in. Everyone in Sarasota and Longboat Key I talk to is angry and frustrated at what our towns (all of them: Sarasota , Longboat Key and Anna Maria) have done by allowing over-development. They have sold themselves to developers and forgot the residents who are trying to live here. The headlines in the newspaper congratulate Sarasota for the

many new hotels being built, the much higher number of tourists every year, and our higher population, while the readers sit and growl. We are the residents who make this town the artistic center it is and our needs and desires are ignored. And we are angry.

Anne G. Arsenault

Longboat Key

 

Redevelopment Ordinance status update

To: Town Commission

I asked our Planning, Building, and Zoning Director to put together a report on the recent history and status report on revisions to the redevelopment ordinance and the update to the codes.  Please see attached update.

The staff is currently planning to go before the Planning and Zoning Board in April with the latest proposed changes and would then proceeding to the Commission after their review.

Thomas Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Thank you

To: Chamber President Gail Loefgren

Many thanks for your testimony today. Please send me the list of the communities and comments you provided.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Redevelopment Ordinance Status Update

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thanks

Jim Brown

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Redevelopment Ordinance status update

To: Commissioner Jim Brown

Thanks for taking my call. As we discussed, it is not a formal agenda item but I planned to mention the report under Town Manager Comments and staff will be there as well. Will follow-up with the internal meeting to go over the history, etc.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Tom, will this be discussed at our upcoming workshop? I have a lot of questions about this review and don’t agree with much of the summaries.

Jim Brown

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Road Improvement

To: Town Clerk Trish Granger

I am writing to strongly suggest a turning lane (chicken lane or suicide lane) be installed in front of the properties of Spanish Main Yacht Club, (SMYC) and The Shore at 5700 Gulf of Mexico Drive, (GMD). There are 212 villas with most of them having two occupants in SMCY. This is the highest density on the north end of Longboat Key.

Turning into the property from the southbound lane blocks traffic going south. Exiting out of the property into the southbound lane is dangerous due to the volume of traffic going north and south on GMD. To find a break in traffic in both directions requires much patience.  Many people get frustrated and try to dash the car into the southbound lane into on-coming traffic. Going north for a few blocks and turning left into a private property to turn around is possible in order to merge into traffic going south, but is not a correct solution.   

This is also an issue for owners crossing the road to get to SMYC’s beach access. If there was a turning lane available, they could get into it and then wait for a break in traffic to get to the other side.

Beverly Root

Longboat Key

 

Proposed U.S. 41 & Gulfstream Avenue Roundabout

To: Bob Gault, FDOT Joshua Jester

Agree, just look at the backup that occurs at St Armands with the pedestrians and that circle is larger with fewer cars. The 3 left turn lanes turning left from the Key to North 41 are helping. If we had 2 right turn lanes to 41 south, that would help us move too. The roundabouts will cause accidents, confusion and more traffic backups.

Lynn Larson

Longboat Key

 

To: FDOT Joshua Jester

Mr. Jester, you folks are the pros but many of us on the Sarasota barrier islands fear the proposed roundabout solution. Theoretically it is a good idea. However, this intersection is frequented by many tourists who are not sure where they are going and also we have a high volume of senior drivers in the area who are very cautious. Both the tourists and seniors will be easily confused by a busy roundabout and adding pedestrians to the mix, it will be a certain and serious safety issue.

We frequent the new roundabouts that have been installed in Sarasota and note that many drivers do not yield as signed and aggressively enter the roundabouts ignoring cars who are already waiting to enter the circle. This at simple intersections. Aggressive driving is often the only way to get into the flow and you better know what you are doing.

What will happen with high volume traffic on U.S. 41 in addition to pedestrians in the mix? A flyover for pedestrians would be the safest fix for them and not interrupt critical traffic flow. Please use real world user insight as well as the high volume demand in your consideration of this roundabout proposal before deciding. Thank you for your consideration.

Bob and Shannon Gault

Longboat Key

 

Pickleball

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

A few questions, Issac Brownman asked me about the feasibility of private fundraising for the additional pickleball courts. In your opinion is this important? Would the city commissioners like to see the pickleball enthusiasts provide some effort and capitol towards this endeavor? Would this make any difference in their support for the project?

Looking forward to the 28th and again thank you for your efforts!

Sara Cullen

Longboat Key

 

Pickleball

To: Sarah Cullen

Speaking only for myself, a private fundraising effort would be helpful and meaningful, much like the ongoing Friends of Tennis support for the Tennis Center.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

More Pickleball

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

We were told by our friend and LBK National pickleball representative, Sara Cullen, of your interest in starting a pickleball club near the tennis club. We understand that Unicorp has very generously donated a substantial sum of  money to Longboat Key, to be used for recreation. What better use of that donation than for more pickleball courts, to feed the frenzy that is this sport!

We are winter residents (and property owners), and found a really wonderful, supportive, fun group of folks from all over to play with at Bayfront Park this season. But in just a few short weeks, the numbers of folks coming for open play overwhelmed the courts’ capacity! Too often players had to sit 15-30 minutes waiting for their turn at a quick 15-minute game, then repeat.

Having a designated club would relieve pressure on the public pickleball and tennis courts, the parking lot for the park, and add revenue to sustain and improve LBK facilities, as modest membership fees for the club will do.

We play, our kids play (son-in-law even has a court at work, and is in the top 3 on his company team), soon we will teach our granddaughters to play. Pickleball is truly a sport for all ages and stages!

Thanks for your help and support. We wish we could be there next week to speak in person at the council meeting; however, northern responsibilities have called us back to Wisconsin. We can hardly wait to hear what exciting new developments await our beloved sport for next fall/winter!

Barbara & Jeffrey Harkins

Madison, WI

 

SCAT Route 18

To: Town Commission

Commissioners, FYI- at today’s Sarasota County Commission Workshop no formal action was taken regarding Route 18. But the Commission did indicate their support of staff’s efforts to analyze options to the existing Route 18, the county staff commitment to maintain access to public transit on the Key, and continued discussion on alternatives with the Town staff, MCAT, and the MPO.  Regardless, the staff highlighted that under the FTA rules no reduction could occur until mid to late FY19 and there is time to work with the Town on their concerns. We will continue to work with the counties, MPO, etc and update the Commission as we advance these discussions.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

SCAT Route 18

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Well done!

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Agreed

Ken Schneier

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Wireless firms seek to preempt local authority to install 5G equipment in neighborhoods

To: Mayor Terry Gans

Mayor Gans, since you likely may be reading this on your last official day as Mayor of Longboat Key may I first take the opportunity to thank you for your service, time and dedication to our community. Much good has come during your term at the helm.

I am addressing the subject article you recently sent to Tom Harmer, Maggie Moonie Portale and Trish. First, to the subject of “possible long-term health risks” from equipment that emits radio-frequency energy as it now relates to small cells. No surprise that concern over health risks would again rear its nasty head as it did when 1G and 2nd generation (2G) phone service first populated the entire nation with cell towers.

I made the argument of potential long-term adverse health effects from cell tower radiation when small cell technology first became available.  Because our domestic wireless firms have always had such a strong lobby with the FCC and national government in general, not much in the way of radiation hazard studies are conducted in the United States.  But many tests were conducted in Europe. One study out of France determined that a single cell phone tower housing four service providers could generate upwards of 500 watts of effective radiated  power and at that level “the intense radioactivity from a single phone cell tower adversely impacted every biological organism within one kilometer.” Well now that’s very reassuring!

Here is the good news, where a single mobile call tower can generate 500 watts of effective radiated power a single small cell (also called node or access point, AP) emits in the range of 0.25 to 5 watts.  Granted there are many small cells that make up a wireless mesh network but they are distributed throughout the entire Key. Also consider the fact that your personal mobile smart phone which you have pressed against your ear can generate upwards of 0.6 watts.  Suggestion: when it does not effect the quality of life of your neighbor activate ‘speaker phone’ and hold it in your lap.

As mentioned in the article the industry expects to deploy as many as 300,000 small cell sites nationwide over the next few years. No surprise that wireless firms and service providers want to preempt local authority when installing 5G equipment in our neighborhood.  This becomes Longboat Key’s concern not unlike the recent short-term rental threat out of Tallahassee.  In the case of short-term rentals we had grandfathered in some preemptive local legislation.

If not already addressed we now should consider some preemptive local legislation that would allow Longboat Key to maintain local authority not just over our own fiber based wireless network but also control over the service providers build out of the 5G network.  Our goal is to preclude the wireless firms from arbitrarily planting one of their 50-foot poles at the foot of someone’s driveway.

The LBK design is to integrate the fiber network with all new smart LED street lighting with some of the poles also housing the small cells/nodes.

At this point I must address the aesthetics of the community and what the appearance of a small cell will look like projecting into the future. The article talks about the size of today’s small cell being no larger than “two paper towel rolls.”  With electronic designs shrinking at the rate they are its conceivable the entire small cell may be integrated within the light pole within two years.  Those designs are ongoing.

LBK is currently reviewing smart LED street lighting drawings where decorative light poles have a nominal height of approximately 27 feet and for the Gulf of Mexico Dr fully Florida DOT code compliant “autobahn” LED lighting at a nominal height of 35 feet.

Perhaps if not already done we could consider local legislation that would preclude any small cell pole/tower from exceeding 35 feet. Meeting FDOT code compliance would give the legislative wording some teeth.

Ed Krepela

Longboat Key

 

We need more than 4 pickleball courts

To: Commissioner Jack Daly,

I went and looked at the area around the library and it seems to me that the perfect spot for the 5-6 courts would be the parking lot next to the four tennis courts east of the library. I think this is the best spot, it’s already flat, drainage has been figured out, its further away from residential homes and there is already a nice shade pavilion that could be shared with tennis and pickleball players. Then, see what parking needs develop. The street is available for parking maybe expand the library lot. Or see if the post office might be agreeable to share some parking.

I don’t think that four courts will be any where near enough…if this space could fit 6 I would strongly urge you to go for it. Today at Open Play at Bayfront we had 47 players! Crazy numbers. Also our township built 8 designated pickleball courts for $70,000 not including nets and fencing. The company building down in Naples at the U.S. Open courts seem very good and reasonable. Again thank you for your support.

Also:

We need to move the back boards as they are very close to the service line of the two pickleball courts. They should be welcomed on the tennis court. That way tennis players can use them.

I am starting to raise some seed money for pickleball…I have $5,000 so far. Any ideas where I might find more?

Sara Cullen

Longboat Key

 

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