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Editorial Letters – Week ending February 22, 2019

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.

Inn on the Beach v LBK

To: Town Commission

As you may recall, last year, the Inn on the Beach challenged the fines imposed by the Town’s Code Enforcement Board arising out of violation of the Town’s turtle lighting ordinance.   Specifically, the Inn on the Beach filed an appeal in the Sarasota County Circuit Court.

The case was fully briefed by the Inn on the Beach’s counsel and the Town’s litigation counsel (Arthur Hardy).  Today, without the necessity of oral argument, Judge Maria Ruhl entered an order affirming the Town Code Enforcement Board’s decision to fine the Inn on the Beach for violations of the Town’s Code of Ordinances.  In so finding, Judge Ruhl specifically determined that the Town’s turtle protection ordinance was not unconstitutionally vague, and determined that the $2,000 fine imposed by the Code Enforcement Board against the Inn on the Beach for the violation was not excessive or disproportionate to the offense.  A full copy of Judge Ruhl’s order is attached.

A hearing on the companion appeal that was filed by Oprock’s on behalf of the Zota Hotel in the Manatee County Circuit Court, will occur next week at 2 pm before Judge Sniffen on February 28, 2019.

Once again, I would like to extend the Town’s appreciation to Art Hardy on his representation of the Town on this matter. Should you have any questions about this update, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Maggie Mooney-Portale

Town Attorney

Longboat Key

 

Town Center Discussion

To: Town Commission

This is my first letter since leaving office eleven months ago.  It will not be one of many.

I watched with considerable interest the discussion on the Town Center project, particularly the discussion points made by the representatives of Ringling College.

The issue of the black box theater seems to have become the tail not only wagging the dog, but aggressively tugging in the leash in the opposite direction.  The ULI Report indicated a significant interest in having a facility where those interested in drama and/or music

could have a space to develop those interests and share them with others.  When the discussions of the Town Center morphed into uses, and ultimately the layout choices Ringling assisted with, the black box had grown beyond the facilities I had seen in terms of size and amenities.

Probably, the surprise felt when the layout and cost estimates were first presented could have been best expressed while on the Commission, better late than never.  The size of the black box was a big driver in the $18 million price tag.  Realizing there are different levels of sound systems, lighting systems,

scenery accommodation and the like, I believe the base specifications have perhaps gone far beyond what ever those who participated in the ULI Study, or the Commission envisioned, however vaguely.  Further, in the almost two years since Ringling agreed to assist with management of the fundraising,

this cost—and particularly when driven by a function many have no relation to—is being presented as a deterrent to fund raising.  And that deterrent is being used to redefine the scope of the Town Center Project.  I don’t know if I would call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, confirmation bias, or a strategy to delay,

but it is disappointing to seemingly have hit the spot on the game board where we have to return to the start.

It is unlikely that anyone has a desire to alienate Ringling, but perhaps the Town and the Foundation should refine the specifics of the functions of the Center, and provide a clearer and firmer picture to the people at Ringling.  This would maximize their assistance and give potential donors

a real sense of what the ongoing contribution to life in Longboat Key would be.

The Town has spent a lot of time, and money in land acquisition, circling this bull.  We need to grab the horns.  I think Commissioner Brown is on the right track, but he needs support to get to a resolution.

This is written as perspective, not criticism.

Terry Gans

Longboat Key

 

Broadway Street parking issue

To: Vice Mayor Ed Zunz

I live on Broadway Street, 581 Broadway Street and it has come to my attention this past week. That MarVista has started using valet parking.  Saturday, Sunday and Monday we had cars parked the entire length of Broadway Street which is unusual.  I went for several walks in the neighborhood this weekend with my family and we were passed by two valet men, wearing blue shirts, black pants and name tags walking the sidewalk back to Mar Vista.  When you walk down to the neighborhood dock you will notice they are also using all the boat ramp parking, and parking the cars, two and three deep.  Leaving no room for visitors or anyone actually using the boat ramp.  Is the restaurant allowed to be using public roads for their private use?  Can you please look into this?

Melanie Barber

Longboat Key

 

Broadway Street parking issue

To: Melanie Barber

At our Town Meeting today I was advised that LBK does not prohibit valet parking at permitted parking places on public streets.  As to the Town Boat Ramp, you might consider requesting restrictive parking signs in that area.   

Ed Zunz

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

G wiz recusal Commissioner Ahearn-Koch

To: Mike Connolly, City of Sarasota Commission

You quite rightly sought and obtained the recusal of the chair of the Historical preservation board based on his previously stated public opposition to the demolition of G-Wiz. Per my comments on Tuesday night Commissioner Ahearn-Koch has even more vociferously opined on this matter including a City made promotional video touting her views and must therefore recuse herself per Quasi judicial rules as I understand them and as you applied them to the Historical preservation board.

I am aware that challenging a Commissioner might be tough for you so I will make it easy in that if you don’t challenge her and she doesn’t recuse herself I will file a lawsuit as well as reporting the matter to the Governor’s office.

We have rules and without them nothing works.

Martin Hyde

Sarasota

 

G wiz recusal Commissioner Ahearn-Koch

To: City Manager Tom Barwin and Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

I am respectfully requesting that the commission be forwarded the link to view the Commissioner’s Corner episode that is referenced in the request below, and that the link to the video be included as supplemental material for the upcoming public hearing regarding the Historic Preservation Board’s decision on the GWIZ demolition issue.

Shelli Freeland Eddie

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

G wiz recusal Commissioner Ahearn-Koch

To: Commissioner Shelli Freeland-Eddie

The office of the Auditor-Clerk manages Commissioner Corner filming and records.   Since a legal question is being raised on this thread, I think it best be guided by the City Attorney’s office. I have copied Mr. Fournier, and Ms. Griggs on this matter.

Tom Barwin

City Manager, City of Sarasota

 

Rat infestation at Selby Park

To: Sarasota City Commission

I am a resident in downtown Sarasota, a city I love.  I am writing to encourage you to support the staff that I and several other residents in the Selby Park area met with yesterday morning to discuss the rat infestation problem in the Park.  I have been communicating with Jerry Fogle for two weeks about the issue.  He has been terrifically responsive, even showing up at 3 am several mornings to clean up trash in the park and remove people who were sleeping there.

As I told Jerry and the park personnel and police that met with us Thursday morning, I walk my dog about five times a day around the park, which has led to me noticing a lot of things, including a severe rat infestation there.  Attached is a six second video that says it all. As you know, this problem cannot be solved unless the problem of people effectively camping out and leaving food in the park is addressed.  In that regard, people are sleeping in and along the ferns in the Park where the rats hide, which increases their risk to bites and other diseases. See pictures attached. If the problem persists, we risk facing the issues like those that have developed in Los Angeles, which include an outbreak of typhus.  The article in the WSJ this week is at https://www.wsj.com/articles/politics-is-a-dirty-businessstarting-with-the-rats-at-los-angeles-city-hall-11549830509

As we discussed Thursday morning at our meeting, the rats need to be dealt with immediately, but longer term, the Park needs to be reconfigured to discourage people from effectively living, eating and sleeping in it so that there is no trash and food for the rats to seek out.  Frankly, I can envision how that could be done, so I would expect the experts to be able to do it.

You clearly have a very dedicated group of people working for the City who want to solve problems, but we all realize that unless the Commissioners have the will and provide the resources to solve problems, they will not be solved. I and the residents around the Park will appreciate your prompt action and support of the staff to get these problems solved.  If this takes resources, they should be made available given the seriousness of the issue.  As you can well imagine, the expansion of this problem would be neither good for Sarasota nor its residents.

I would appreciate hearing from you about the status of an effective and permanent solution.  Thank you for your service to the Community.

Tom Vartanian

Sarasota

 

Rat infestation at Selby Park

To: Sarasota City Commission

To keep you informed of the seriousness of the situation, I am attaching a video taken tonight around 9:45 pm.  As you can see, a half dozen rats were foraging through the trash around and on a person that was sleeping in Selby Park. This problem requires immediate attention to solve the problem in the short and long term.

I will appreciate your response.

Tom Vartanian

Sarasota

 

Rat infestation at Selby Park

To: City Manager Tom Barwin

Has someone addressed this issue?

Liz Alpert

Mayor, City of Sarasota

 

Rat infestation at Selby Park

To: Mayor Liz Alpert

We will be looking at all options again today.  Thanks.

Tom Barwin

City Manager, City of Sarasota

 

Pineapple Park Airstream trailer

To: Vice-Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I wanted to briefly introduce myself via email in hope that you could steer me in the right direction regarding the possibility of having a “permanent” Airstream trailer located in Pineapple Park, offering residents and visitors our hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches and signature cookies prepared on site. I have spoken with Jerry Fogle, the Director of Parks and Recreation and he believes this would be a wonderful addition to the park but advised me that it would be a long process needing approval from people above him. Though we have an LOI for space at The Mark downtown, our vision for retail has always been to have a restored Airstream as our storefront rather than traditional brick and mortar.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1996, I dedicated my passion of the culinary arts as the Executive Chef for several hotels, resorts, private country clubs and later as a private chef for Michael and Susan Dell (Dell Computers) and Jeff and Gail Kodosky (National Instruments). Additionally, I had the privilege of cooking for Lady Bird Johnson, President George W. Bush, and President Jimmy Carter. After 16 years of leading this epicurean vision, I made the decision to leave the industry and lead my family by working to become a better husband to my wife and father to our sons. Nye’s Cream Sandwiches was not a thought out business plan, but a simple request from our youngest son for me to make ice cream sandwiches for his birthday party. Today, our hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches and cookies have been enjoyed around the country at numerous celebrity events including The US Open, NFL Super Bowl LIII, The Masters, CMA Awards, and Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Fourth of July event at the State Department and have been featured in Oprah’ “O” List, People Magazine, The Food Network, Martha Stewart Weddings and the Today Show.

We would greatly appreciate the opportunity to present our vision and why we believe our business would be a great benefit to Pineapple Park (Paul Thorpe Park), downtown residents and visitors. If you  would like to learn more about our business, Nye’s Cream Sandwiches, I have included a link below.

Thank you for your time and consideration and hope you have a wonderful afternoon.

Christian Nye

Nye’s Cream Sandwiches, Inc.

 

Pineapple Park Airstream trailer

To: Christian Nye

Thanks for reaching out to me. I have copied City Staff on this email so they may respond. However, a permanent commercial structure in the park is not planned.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Vice Mayor

City of Sarasota

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