Editorial Letters – Week ending March 15, 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.

Light Poles on LBK

To: Editor

As recent ‘Snowbirds’ from Niagara-on-the-Lake, an historic and original Town in Ontario which is now a World Heritage Site…we have some experience of high-light faux pas to share.

Andres Duany, the renowned Architect who designed Seaside, FL, has studied and recommended that street lights should be 15-20 feet in height, to shine light on the ground to maximum affect … and not in the eyes of a driver! Despite this knowledge the Niagara Region erected 45 feet high LED lights on our main roads in to the Town. They lowered the cost and sabotaged the ambience!

The argument that cell towers drive the need for 45-foot poles can be contradicted by erecting the new artificial palms or by placing them on top of flagpoles (see attached photos). Longboat Key is precious and evolving in the right way. We hope it continues!

Hamish and Leslie Kerr

Longboat Key


Orchestra plan

To: Editor

Thank you for your informative article on the orchestra plan to usurp land in Payne Park.

This plan had to be found in the playbook on “How to destroy community cohesiveness”.

When I learned of it, I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. The only worse proposal I know was the occupation of Iraq to bring stability and to the Middle East.

Anthony Esposito


Socialism gets a bad rap

To: Editor

This is a response to Peter O’Connor’s column in the March 8 issue of the Longboat Key News where he inserted an article written by Fred Barnes.  Fred Barnes was co-founder of The Weekly Standard which according to Wikipedia is a “Redoubt of neo-conservatism” and as “ the neo-con bible”. Mr. O’Connor’s article looks to be a reprint from the article by Fred Barnes published in the Wall Street Journal, also not a bastion of liberalism.

Socialism is getting a bad rap lately. Let me make myself clear I am not a socialist nor do I subscribe to Marxism, Communism or radical socialism of any kind. However we have many aspects of Socialism already imbedded in our society. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security are all accepted programs that were pushed through by Liberals and now form a bedrock of support for our citizens.  We all assume that free education for children from kindergarten through twelfth grade paid by the taxpayer is the right thing to do. Isn’t that socialism? If that’s OK then why should basic healthcare not be seen as a human right instead of a privilege? Why should spending tax dollars to protect our planet for our children and grand children be see as Socialism?

We on Longboat key live in a bubble of privilege, which makes it seem like what we have here is normal. It is not. Most for our citizens have no funds for emergencies and live paycheck to paycheck. Emergency rooms are filled with people who can’t afford  healthcare and there are bankruptcies because of the high cost of medical care and prescription medicines. Studies show that the happiest people in the Western World are the Scandinavians who pay the highest taxes but have the best cradle to grave services.

Instead of painting Democrats and Liberals as Socialists maybe we should all become more humanistic and spend our tax dollars to better support our fellow citizens who are not as fortunate as we are.

Kenneth Lang

Longboat Key


Parking on the North end of LBK

To: Editor

I would like to apologize to Commissioner Ed Zunz who I value as a friend and as an effective commissioner for any misunderstanding about the issue of parking on Broadway.

The issue is not about valet parking, the issue is parking period. How could the Town approve a new wing to Mar Vista and a massive new restaurant that has a 1600 square foot retail space in a residential community? The ground space is finite, the only other option is parking vertically, hence the auto transport carriers option.

When construction of the new restaurant began and its massive scope became clear, I asked the head of the building department at the time if the plans for the restaurant were approved by the P&Z committee she said ‘no’ they were not, then she added that they did not have to go to the P&Z. I asked if they were approved by the Town Commission and her answer was the same No. How could such a major project approval be left to a civil servants to decide.

Why do we go through the charade of electing commissioners? We either have elected people decide the major issues of the Town or leave it to civil servants to decide and disband the “Commission,” leaving decision making to the Town Manager.

I recall few years back that the same point was put to the voters and the voters rejected the concept of the Town Manager deciding.   

Samir Ragheb

Longboat Key


Lighting and Pole Height on GMD

To: Town of Longboat Key Commission

We are confused. A couple of years ago you committed most us to a very major assessment to bury the electric lines on Gulf of Mexico Drive to “improve” the image and appearance of the main Drive through Longboat Key. Now you are talking about replacing the existing utility poles with even taller ones which will give the Drive more of an expressway appearance than a neighborhood one.

This subject has been discussed and discussed for several years always with the thought of “dressing up” the community much like Armand’s Circle with more attractive neighborhood type light poles. Now the proposed poles have been changed to have exactly the opposite effect because the “taller and more sturdy concrete poles will reduce the number of poles required.” With all the thought that went into the original proposal plus the very expensive and questionable expenditure being spent to bury the lines to “improve” the image of GMD, it is hard to believe the number of ornamental poles needed was not known from the very beginning.

Is it right and is it fair to have “sold” one project to the voters and now make the major changes you are proposing?  I for one do not think so and from what I can see I am certainly not the only one to feel that way.  Your image as a governing body deserves better and your credibility should not be thrown away again so readily.  The Hilton project and the Old Colony program did enough damage.

Hub Erickson

Longboat Key


Lighting and Pole Height on GMD

To: Hub Erickson

Mr. Erickson, thank you for copying me on your email. No decisions have been made yet on the replacement poles and light fixtures.  The Town is evaluating the types of poles and pole heights based on aesthetics as well as the infrastructure that may be needed to address lighting requirements and technology (wireless and/or cell coverage).  It is anticipated that there will be a pole and light combination approved for Gulf of Mexico Drive in the Florida Department of Transportation right of way and separately a neighborhood pole/light combination likely to be shorter and more decorative.

The staff provides a monthly update to the Commission at their Regular Workshops each month.  The agenda reports for those meetings are typically posted the Wednesday prior to the meeting.  Their next update is scheduled for the Tuesday, March 19th meeting.  The workshop meetings are held in Town Hall and start at 1pm.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key


Orchestra proposal for Payne Park

To: Sarasota City Commission

I am writing in follow-up to the statements I made at the March 12, 2019 Community Workshop regarding the Sarasota Orchestra’s proposal to build a new concert hall in Payne Park. As I expressed at that community gathering, I strongly object to the Orchestra’s hermetic approach to catering to the needs of the relatively small subset of the populace that enjoys classical music (although I count myself among that dwindling audience) at the expense of the broader public that regularly delights in a green space oasis in the heart of downtown Sarasota.

We are fortunate that the Payne family generously donated this land to the citizens of Sarasota to serve as a public park; thanks to their prescience a century ago, our increasingly overbuilt environment includes 39-acre oasis where people of all ages, and backgrounds, and economic classes, come to revel in the opportunity to commune with nature and enjoy outdoor leisure activities.  While it is possible that City Attorney Fournier could muster an argument to interpret “kindred use” to include a monolithic auditorium and 200 parking spaces over a bucolic pond teeming with life, I do not think such a reading is at all in keeping with common parlance, or with the intent of the land grant; should it come to it, I doubt whether a judge would side with that strained definition.  Although I am a fan of Bach and Beethoven, “culture” includes many different kinds of “odes to joy” – including the quacks of the ducks as they run toward the children proffering breadcrumbs each weekend.

Proximity to Payne Park, and the opportunities it offers me to walk the exercise track every morning, play tennis, and engage in wildlife photography is one of the main reasons I chose to move to the Laurel Park neighborhood. Those opportunities should not be curtailed for me or other citizens of Sarasota simply because the Sarasota Orchestra does not wish to construct a new home in the dedicated Bayfront cultural space.  If the Orchestra feels compelled to relocate inland, the empty space in front of Robarts Arena, which has been mentioned in the media as their possible “Plan B” location, makes far more sense. That property is vacant (unlike our park).  Moreover, there is adequate parking, no land grant restrictions that I am aware of, and traffic circulation would not be as huge an obstacle as a plan that dumps 1,700 cars onto a perpetually bottlenecked stretch of Washington Boulevard.

I sincerely hope that after hearing community input, the Orchestra withdraws its proposed plan and focuses its attention on realizing its rumored “Plan B.” However, should that feedback not deter them, I hope that the representatives we elected to steward our city, and in whom the Payne family entrusted their legacy, will see fit to turn down this misguided request to “pave paradise and put up a parking lot” (yes, I like Joni Mitchell as well as Felix Mendelssohn).

P.S. — On behalf of park residents who can’t speak for themselves, I am attaching a few photographs I took in Payne Park recently. What other city can boast Roseate Spoonbills in the heart of downtown? The Payne family gifted us with a slice of paradise, and I believe you are morally and legally obligated to preserve it.

Kelly Franklin

Former president

Laurel Park Neighborhood Association


Grant’s Gardens shop parking

To: Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons

Per my phone message yesterday, we have resolved the parking issues as requested. We moved several vehicles to our Northgate shop and re-arranged the yard so that all vehicles are parked behind the green barriers. Please let me know if this is acceptable.

Danielle Beatt, President

Grant’s Gardens, Inc.

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