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Longboat Key Letters – Week ending May 25, 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.

Safety issues with speeding in Village

To: Public Works Director Isaac Brownman

Thank you for your response and it is okay to disagree. We villagers along with visitors/tourists alike utilize the streets as our sidewalks because there is only a sidewalk on the south side of Broadway that runs from Palm Street to just east of Lois Ave. and then goes across Broadway at the Mar-Vista and continues to Bayside Drive. That being said I will highlight what the Village neighborhood would like to request from the Town of Longboat Key, so that we have a safe place to live and enjoy.

1.)  All streets speed limit lowered to 15mph including Broadway. Neighborhood wide. Reason: Life safety, we have young families with children ranging from a few months old to 10 years old and are walking in our streets due to the lack of sidewalks. There is some “History” on sidewalks that I won’t go into know.

2.)  Purchase of four (4) “Your Speed” Solar signs that will be added to already existing speed limit sign locations on Broadway only (at this time).Reason: These devises are very helpful in showing speed violators their actual traveling speeds. They WORK….

3.)  The new “15mph” sign when you first enter the neighborhood should have the language as seen in other neighborhoods “All Streets” or “Neighborhood Wide” similar to the ones we have on Gulf of Mexico Drive that references “No Parking on roadside City wide”.

4.)  Adding a sidewalk from Palm Street to Gulf of Mexico Drive. Reason: Anyone that is walking on the sidewalk and gets to the corner of this intersection must then walk on Broadway to get to the corner. This was asked for on several occasions and most recent when the sidewalk was extended from Broadway to the Longboat Pass Bridge. Sadly, it was never added.

Isaac, if there is anything I can help with, please feel free to contact me. As you can see I am sending this email to our commissioners so that this can be placed on the agenda as soon as possible.

Michael Drake

Longboat Key

 

Speeding on Village Streets

To: Michael Drake

My initial thoughts are that the speed data that Chief Cumming collected along Broadway does not support the use or cost of these.  They are not cheap and not currently budgeted in our budget.

Lowering the speed limit would require commission action.  Currently, section 71.02 of the Town Code has a speed limit of 25 mph for Broadway east of GMD, and 20 mph for all others.  These are already very low speed limits for public roadways.  Particularly, 25 mph is pretty low for a street that functions as a collector from other local streets.  But I also do understand it may be set at 25 mph as a lower speed to acknowledge the historic character and nature of the Village along Broadway.  Posted speed of 20 mph is about as low as we should go on any public, local street.

We can discuss more if you would like, but those are my initial thoughts.

Isaac Brownman

Director Public Works

Town of Longboat Key

 

Speeding on Village Streets

To: Public Works Director Isaac Brownman

I would like to have a few of these installed in the Village. Mainly on Broadway between Longboat Drive S/N and Poinsetta Ave. and Broadway and Lois Ave. on both sides of the street so that vehicles see them both coming and going out of the Village.

Also, what does it take to lower the speed limit throughout the entire neighborhood? It has become a real problem within our entire neighborhood.

Please let me know your thoughts at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your consideration. And look forward to your response.

Michael Drake

Longboat Key

 

St. Regis Revenues

To: Finance Director Susan Smith

Per our discussion at yesterday’s meeting, I looked back at the Economic & Fiscal Impacts Report prepared July 20, 2017 on behalf of the St. Regis developers and included as Tab 12 in their application book.  At p. 6-7, the report predicts the gross revenue from the project to LBK by 2012 (full operation) would be $2,528,888 with net fiscal impact as $2,034,141, and increasing over time.

I think it may be worth checking these numbers.  Even if they are a bit optimistic, a functioning St. Regis could supply over 10% of our operating budget.  This underscores another negative impact to the town of further self-serving delays.  Thanks.

Ken Schneier

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

St. Regis Revenues

Thank you – I will look into it.

Susan Smith

Finance Director

Longboat Key

 

Intersection of Ringling Causeway and US41

To: Town Commission

On Monday, 05-21-18 FDOT presented their plans for the Ringling Causeway (Gulf Stream) and US 41 intersection roundabout to the the LBK Commission.  The presentation opened with an emphasis on creating a more friendly pedestrian environment at the intersection, and continued throughout with that emphasis.  While pedestrian is always of importance, likewise is the smooth flow of traffic, especially in light of Sarasota’s population and tourist growth, which generates traffic growth.  Contrary to FDOT’s assertions that traffic flow through the intersection will be enhanced by the roundabout, it appears logically intuitive that multiple installation of the seemingly confusing HAWK cross light system will actually impede traffic flow considerably.  “Training” the public about the HAWK system system appears to offer little in the way of improving operations, especially since much of the traffic will be tourist who would remain “untrained”.  Futhermore, the roundabout even without a HAWK system could prove quite challenging to the metropolitan area’s elderly population, many of whom will in all likelihood be skittish about entering an active system until the road is “clear”.

Review of the roundabout as presented by FDOT indicates that there appears to be a much more viable alternative that would simultaneously increase pedestrian safety and traffic flow; namely construction of two strategically located passenger underpasses as illustrated on the attachment, coupled with elimination of all street level passenger crosswalks near the roundabout.  Elimination of the passenger crosswalks would also be coupled with a chain and pylon (stanchion) system that is often found at busy European intersections to redirection pedestrian flow.  While this could prove slightly more costly that the FDOT proposal, the benefits would be enormous.  A third pedestrian underpass at the intersection of Main and US 41 could also prove beneficial.

While the pedestrian underpasses would dip below the water table, engineering techniques are readily available to counteract this just as they do for other tunnels like New Yorks Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, the English / French Chunnel, or the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to name a few.

Think outside of the box and get this accomplished correctly in the beginning, rather that having to do so later at a tremendous cost.

Phill Younger

Longboat Key

 

Acquisition of GMD

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

I noticed today that Sarasota County has agreed to take over maintenance of 12.5 miles of River Road and several other streets in exchange for a $40mm cash payment fro FDOT, enabling the County, among other things, to undertake major repairs needed on River Road.  Is there any scenario under which we might acquire control of Gulf of Mexico Drive from the State in exchange for funds that would enable us to build the northern roundabout and the southern turns lanes, as well as beautify GMD in conjunction with the undergrounding project? Just a thought.

Ken Schneier

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Acquisition of GMD

To: Commissioner Ken Schneier

Before I left the county, the county was working to have FDOT take over River Road in exchange for the county taking over some less desirable roadways.  What you described is an interesting development and had not heard that.  The state FDOT has been hesitant on the Town taking over GMD because the state generally has a policy of maintaining ownership of looped roads connecting to other state roads and not creating state-owned dead-ends.  If they turned over GMD to the Town, they would have two dead-ends north and south of us.  They also would not want to see the Town, for example, toll the road and then get into mini tolling wars between us, the FDOT and the adjacent cities.  Not saying this would happen, but has been discussed in the past.

Just wanted to share some background on the few discussions I have heard since I have been here on taking ownership of GMD; for us, there would also be the long-term maintenance after the cash payment was used to make upgrades.  In other areas, tolling is generally a way to cover long-term maintenance costs on major urban highways, as well as cover the capital cost repayment, rather than raising through taxes or assessments over time. Let me see if I can get some details from the county, just to understand the latest arrangement.

Isaac Brownman

Director Public Works

Town of Longboat Key

 

Acquisition of GMD

To: Commissioner Ken Schneier

As Isaac mentioned we were working on the transfer of River Road (a county road) with the FDOT before we both left Sarasota County.  It was a road swap for Midnight Pass Road – an existing state road (on Siesta Key) for a portion of River Road and a commitment from the State that they would the major portion of the necessary improvements on River Road as part of the swap since it would now become a State Road.  They had not be willing to financial contribute to the County for the needed road improvements in the past since it was a local county road.  I have talked with the County Administrator about the final arrangements and we can discuss further.

Thomas A. Harmer, ICMA-CM

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

A HAWK pedestrian signalization system

To: Town Commission

Has been installed on highway 41 in front of the Vue.

Tom Freiwald

Longboat Key

 

Neighborhood undergrounding ordinance

To: Town Clerk Trish Granger

This message from you attached the original general ordinance for GMD undergrounding (2015-21), the original general ordinance for neighborhood undergrounding (2016-05) and the specific ordinance for neighborhood underground, including a preliminary budget breakdown (2016-16).  Do you have the specific ordinance for GMD undergrounding, including a preliminary budget breakdown, that would be analogous to 2016-16?

Ken Schneier

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Undergrounding Project Costs

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Following up our brief discussions today after reviewing the information I have available, I think it will be helpful,  during the Project update at the workshop on Monday,that cost breakdowns  be provided for the GMD ( $25,250,000)and Neighborhood ($$23,850,000) projects showing  both the original line item estimates used in support of the approved referendums, compared to our current estimates for each project. That would include line items for Undergrounding ; Feeders; Street Lighting; Fiber Optics; contingencies, legal,financing, etc.— I suggest this data will facilitate a better understanding of what flexibility , if any, we have as we consider our options.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

I met with Isaac this morning to go over his plans for the undergrounding update on Monday.  He will touch on the budgets for both projects and the staff can discuss flexibility at the meeting.  Understanding that there is some question about funding for a decorative solution for the neighborhoods, Isaac pointed out the attached slide from the January 22 2018 Commission Workshop.  The staff believes there is adequate funding for a decorative option if the Commission makes a decision to proceed in that manner.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Undergrounding Project Costs

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thanks, Tom. Recognizing the ongoing discussions with FPL with respect to GMD lighting, can you provide similar relative cost options for GMD.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Undergrounding Project Costs

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Yes- we can provide that as part of the Monday update.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Longboat Club Road – Solar Lighting

To: Mayor George Spoll and Commissioner Irwin Pastor

George and Irwin I am writing you today as Mayor and Commissioner at-Large from Longboat Key Association (LBKA) District to inform you all, Board and Administration that along with moving the Longboat Club Road for the new Hotel and condos LBKA is completing discovery on installing Solar Lighting on  approximately 2 miles of road (43+ light poles).

With ViaSol Lighting, locally owned, we are installing a demo project of 5 poles with Sunna’s solar lighting. The Poles are located where there was formerly FPL lighting and will  demo 200’  and 150’ lighting.  One of the advantages besides financial saving is the we will be able to control the lighting on each pole and may have the opportunity to reduce the lighting on poles that may impact lighting during Turtle Season. We are most interested to receive comment from Town Administration.

Last week it came to my attention from the article in the Longboat Observer our Association Project could be of interest to the Board and Administration. It appears that there is an opportunity for a savings of $1M +/- using Solar Lighting on the side roads.

Will be informing the Administration and Board when the Demo Solar Lighting is activated. In the Meantime, please feel free to contact me or Monte Bains, ViaSOl Lighting with any question.   

Robert Goodman

President

Longboat Key Association, Inc.

 

Response to Request for Pickleball Court Fundraising

To: Commissioner Jack Daly, Public Works Director Isaac Brownman, Mark Richardson Parks and Recreation Director

Jack reached out to me this week and asked how our pickleball fund raising is going. He also shared that pickleball is back on the agenda before the commission this coming week. Thus far we have 15 individual donors and have pledges of $6,500. I had initially hoped to raise $10,000 and will continue to work towards that figure. Many of the LBK donors and players (myself included) are no longer on the island and have returned to their spring and summer homes. We have one pickleball donor who has offered to set up a non profit for us, but that has not happened as of yet.

The $100,000 donation that the city commission and the parks department is looking for seems beyond our current capabilities. I know that the pickleball club that I am a member of here in Michigan was able to raise $35,000 towards a challenge pledge for building new courts. Our small township took the challenge and put forward the remaining money. Together we built 8 designated pickleball courts in Douglas Michigan three years ago for approximately $80,000. Pickleball courts are considerably smaller and less costly then tennis courts. You can easily fit three pickleball courts on one tennis court. I personally think a $10,000 pledge is appropriate at this stage of the proposal. While I am just a volunteer and cannot actually speak to every one’s mindset, I think that the four proposed courts should not be anywhere near $100,000.

If the “Friends of Tennis” on LBK raised somewhere near the $100,000 some 15 years ago, I can easily understand why. The tennis club was built from the ground up, with ten courts, teaching court, a clubhouse, pro shop and viewing terrace. Also hard-tru courts require constant upkeep, expensive materials and also water for the maintenance and preparation of the courts on a daily basis. Four pickleball courts would have none of this expense. Additionally we were also hoping that a portion of the bequest by Unicorp to the LBK Parks and Recreation Department could be used for the pickleball courts. It doesn’t seem reasonable to imagine that pickleball players would raise $100,000 for just 4 courts.

Many pickleball players have expressed concerns about what fees would be charged to join the proposed club. They don’t think that the same fee structure that currently exists for the tennis club could be used for pickleball players, as there would be less then half the courts and possible overcrowding. They have also expressed a need for much more information before they would be willing to make a donation. In my experience it is very difficult to secure donations on a vague “promise” of courts. I think we need to hear something much more substantial from the city and the park and recreation department such as; the location of the proposed courts, how many courts are feasible, fee structure for membership, court lighting, available court hours, clinics, leagues and so forth. So far I have just been guessing about all of these issues and I can honestly tell you that doesn’t work well when attempting to raise funds.

In any event I appreciate that the discussion of pickleball courts on Longboat Key is still ongoing. Important endeavors take time, teamwork and repeated efforts to achieve a positive outcome. At this juncture I think it might be a good idea to publicize what the city’s intentions actually are. A statement could also include that the City and the Parks Department is looking for benefactors for the courts. Several well-placed articles outlining the undertaking might get the fundraising effort moving. I think it would be beneficial to mention that a group of pickleball players have pledged the first $6,500.00. I am sincere in my offer to provide whatever assistance I can.

I applaud the commission and the parks department for their efforts in recognizing the growing demand for this wonderful multi-generational sport and the need for more courts. I think we are at a crossroads where we need to make this something more then just a discussion. When we cross that threshold I think we will be successful in making this a reality.

Sara Cullen

USAPA Pickleball Ambassador LBK

 

To: Sara Cullen

Thank you, Sara, for your comments. Without preempting any Commission discussion on Monday, as we have discussed, I personally suggest, especially at this initial feasibility evaluation stage, that an important measure of the interest and support for additional public pickle ball courts is the extent of demonstrated private financial support therefore.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

To: Commissioner Jack Daly

Thanks Jack for your prompt response.

Let me see if I understand what you are saying in your recent email. Please

The commissioners commitment to building pickle ball courts is contingent on the raising of $100,000. Is this correct?

Can I ask a few questions:

1. How did “we” arrive at this number?

2. Have there been any bids demonstrating the actual costs of building 4 courts?

3. Has there been any discussion of using the Unicorp donation to the Parks and Recs Department?

4. Who is suppose to raise this money? If it’s me how the heck am I supposed to accomplish this on a wish and a prayer?

To my mind the city must be a partner in this effort, pursuing grants, finding corporate benefactors, securing competitive bids, advertising the fundraising and so forth. Without a team effort that includes the city and the parks and recreation department I am just out there…sort of, kind of asking for money for something that could or might happen, at some unknown point in time, in some as yet undisclosed location, at a totally unknown cost. Do you see my dilemma?

The city is asking for a commitment or $100,000.

We are asking the city for a commitment as well.

We are chasing each other tails. You won’t do your part till you think we have done our part. We can’t our part without you doing your part.

The city is the entity that can make this happen. I’m just an enthusiastic aging cheerleader on the sidelines who is willing to have a bake sale and car wash to help.

Sara Cullen

Sarasota

 

LBK Pickleball

To: Sara Cullen

Please read the agenda item materials prepared by Town Staff on the Town’s website, which addresses some of your questions. After the Commission workshop discussions on Monday, the Commission will decide the next steps.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

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