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Editorial Letters – Week ending April 12, 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.

Public Records request relating to St. Armand’s Circle

To: Town Commission

Pursuant to the Town Commission’s direction attached please find two public records requests issued today that were transmitted to the FDOT and the City of Sarasota relating to St. Armand’s Circle (State Road 789). The attached records requests were transmitted separately from last week’s requests relating to Fruitville Road (State Road 780) to avoid confusion. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Maggie D. Mooney

Town Attorney

Longboat Key

 

St. Armands records request

To: Interim Sarasota City Clerk Shayla Griggs

This shall serve as a public records request pursuant to Chapter 119, Florida Statutes, for certain records and materials believed to be in the possession of the City of Sarasota (“City”) as well as the City’s employees, engineers, agents, consultants, experts, elected and appointed officials.

The purpose of this request is to obtain documents related to a portion of State Road 789 (known as St. Armands Circle). For purposes of identifying the particular portion of State Road 789 this request relates to, a highlighted map of the relevant section of the portion of State Road 789 is attached hereto as Exhibit 1.

Public Records Requests:

1. Any and all documents that relate to the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT), State of Florida’s, or the City’s ownership and control of the above identified section of State Road 789 (known as St. Armands Circle).

2. Any and all documents that relate to the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT), State of Florida’s, or the City’s ownership and maintenance responsibility of the above identified section of State Road 789 (known as St. Armands Circle).

3. Any and all documents (including but not limited to correspondence, emails, notes, photographs, surveys, site plans, as-built plans, etc.) that relate to the FDOT’s or the City’s determination of ownership interest in the above identified section of State Road 789 (known as St. Armands Circle).

4. Any and all letters of objection the City has received from January 1, 2015, through the present objecting to the speed table installation for the above identified section of State Road 789.

5. Any memorandums, communications, emails or documents sent to or from City employees from January 1, 2015, through the present raising concerns, opposition or objections to the City’s installation of speed table for the above identified section of State Road 789.

6. Any and all memorandums, communications, emails or documents sent to or from City employees from July 1, 2017, through the present relating to the recommendations from the Barrier Island Traffic Study for the above identified section of State Road 789 (known as St. Armands Circle).

If you claim that any of the documents in the City’s possession are exempt from disclosure, please describe the records in insufficient detail that they may be identified and provide the specific statutory exemption you contend exempts such record(s) from disclosure.

I am willing to pay reasonable fees and charges for the production of the records pursuant to Florida Statutes 119.07(4). If you require advance payment to process this request, please advise me of the applicable charges so I can provide you with the funds promptly to avoid delay in obtaining the requested records. If the volume of records responsive to this request requires excessive service charges for administrative time, please contact me in advance of assembling the records so I can provide further clarification to narrow the scope of the request.

Finally, I would appreciate receiving the requested records in an electronic format (cd, FTP link, etc.) as soon as possible. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this request, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Maggie Mooney

Town Attorney

Longboat Key

 

FWC Pilot Project: Bayfront Park update

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

I just wanted to provide you with a brief update regarding the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (“FWC”) PILOT project on Longboat Key at Bayfront Park. By way of reminder, the Town was approached by FWC in December 2017 about a potential project at Bayfront Park to add 100-linear feet of Reef Wall to a portion of existing seawall, 100-linear feet of oyster bags in front of a portion of seawall, leave remaining seawall as-is, and leave mangrove shoreline as-is as. The project is funded through a grant to the FWC and would be monitored for 2-years post-construction for effects to fish and invertebrate populations along each segment before and after. After some time of dialogue about project scope and treatment locations back and forth, an agreement with FWC was signed in late March 2018 to proceed with the project.

The initial FWC plan was to bundle several of these projects together in various locations along the Gulf Coast and start the projects between September and November 2018, but red tide postponed a lot of this type of work. In addition, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (“FDEP”) required more detailed information from FWC to support the permit applications. As such, the FWC is submitting the necessary information to FDEP and has provided the following revised timelines, pending permit issuance:

• Pre-Treatment Sampling: July – September 2019

• Treatment Installations: October – December 2019

• Post-installation monitoring: Conducted for the 2-years following installation

Attached are some photos and documents related to the proposed treatments to be installed. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Isaac Brownman

Director Public Works

Longboat Key

 

FWC Project at Bayfront Park

To: Town Commission

The Town is working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to host an FWC pilot seawall/shoreline enhancement project at Bayfront Park. See background information below- they plan to install the enhancements later this year and will be evaluating the benefits of the two different types over the term of the project (through June of 2021).

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like any additional information regarding this project.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Thoughts are welcome…

To: Town Commission

I received the e-mail below from Ms. Lori Norgart relating to the April 15, 2019, Goals and Objectives Workshop.  Historically, the meeting is scheduled to provide civic organizations, churches, and associations with the opportunity to present their priorities to the Commission.  We have not previously included individuals who offer private services on the agenda.

I advised Ms. Norgart that all public meetings have an agenda item for individuals to present their thoughts to the Commission and invited her to attend on Monday and speak during the “Public to be Heard” portion of the agenda and also noted that I would forward her thoughts to you. If you have any questions, please advise.

Trish Shinkle

Town Clerk

Town of Longboat Key

 

Glaring safety issues

To: Town Clerk Trish Shinkle

I am aware of your Town Hall meeting on 4/15/19 and was asked to provide any feedback.

First, to Promote Community Health: I am a resident of LBK and a licensed and certified medical speech-language pathologist with nearly 38 years of experience in Manatee/Sarasota County. I am unable to bill insurance, but could provide in-home speech therapy services to adult LBK residents under private, out-of-pocket pay circumstances, should there be a need for this. I don’t know if this is helpful or not, but I don’t believe we have any therapy services available on the Key, other than Physical Therapy. So, perhaps if we had a “Medical On-Line Board” of sorts or something other, the community may become aware of services available on the Key?

Second, to Minimize Regular & Seasonal Traffic Congestion: I understand a new Cortez bridge will be constructed. Would it be possible to issue AMI/LBK residents an electronic pass, similar to a SunPass, which would allow residents their own lane to access and exit the islands? Each tax-paying annual resident household could be issued 2-4 (rental properties excluded), for a “nominal” first-time fee only, which would go toward bridge expenses. I say “nominal” because we truly shouldn’t have to pay to access our current homes, but including a lane just for us would ease the growing frustrations of being able to access/exit the islands. Since I am still a working individual, and leave the Key almost daily, it takes me sometimes an hour to go 3 miles and am often late to my destination or returning home. I constantly check my traffic apps to guess how much in advance I need to leave in order to be timely. This may not be a feasible idea, or a difficult one to control/monitor, but it is just a thought. If so, however, I propose we call it a “Paradise Pass!” :))

Upon exiting the north end of the Key via AMI, I believe the round-a-bout at Bridge Street is a large contributor to the exiting congestion problem. Once past that area, the traffic eases, especially since the traffic light at 119th St on Cortez Rd. is now typically green. It is my hope the DOT stops putting these round-a-bouts all over the county, as they seem to be popping up everywhere and only add to congestion. Adding one at Broadway St on the north end will not solve any congestion issues and perhaps only intensify them further; except, it may allow residents on the west side of GOM to gain a spot easier in the already backed up line of traffic, which hesitates to allow anyone in. This wouldn’t be needed, if the congestion didn’t exist in the first place.

Many thanks for asking for input! I hope this was remotely helpful and constructive feedback.

Lori Norgart

Longboat Key

 

Dangerous Street

To: Vice Mayor Ed Zunz

Dolores and I are not the only ones who have found that we are unhappy having to risk being hit by an automobile driving to or from the Mar Vista, because of our inability to see oncoming traffic on Broadway due to poor visibility. Broadway is an unsafe street as a direct result of commission mandated maximized commercial parking.

I am old that the police say it is legal to park outside the legal parking lines on Broadway, so long as any part of the car lies over any part of a line. Does this mean that double parking is allowed?

Let’s be honest, there is no reason to have parking on Broadway other than the commission’s willingness to maximize the profits of the restaurant owners, since the restaurants supposedly already have enough parking for the allowed number of seats.

Looking at the posted agenda for the upcoming commission workshop, it appears that once again the commission is unwilling to improve safety on Broadway, lest they negatively impact the restaurant owner’s profits, sadly at the expense of the surrounding residential neighborhood. Slightly altering parking on one side of Russell Street does nothing to address the urgent safety hazard that exists on Broadway, due to excessive parking spaces that make it impossible to see oncoming traffic.

Many residents believe that it is only a matter of time until there is a serious accident on Broadway, as a result of people’s inability to see cars driving up and down Broadway on their way to the restaurants, of which twenty percent are speeding. Who’s fault will that be? Are millionaire restaurant owner’s profits worth the life or serious injury of local residents?

At the next workshop, the commission has an opportunity to responsibly address the glaring safety issues that presently exist on Broadway, or they can continue to ignore the problem, saying they were not on the commission when the parking was first initiated, thinking that that argument absolves them from addressing the current safety issues. It does not.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Town of Longboat Key 2019 Legislative Report

To: Town Commission

Attached for your information is a copy of the most recent Legislative Report for the 2019 Legislative Session from your lobbyists at Ramba Consulting.

Many of your probably received an alert from the FLC advising of a hearing today before the House Committee on CS/HB 987 (Short Term Rental bill). The proposed legislation creates additional state pre-emptions on the subject matter and removes the grandfathering clause currently existing in Florida Statutes that permits jurisdictions (like the Town) that have rental restriction ordinances adopted prior to 2011 to regulate short term rentals. Our lobbyists are attending today’s hearing and entering formal opposition to the bill on behalf of the Town. They are also making sure to let our delegation members particularly (Rep. Will Robinson and Rep. James Buchanan) know of the Town’s position in this regard. We will keep you posted on any updates we receive.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me or the Town Manager.

Maggie D. Mooney

Town Attorney

Longboat Key

 

Illegal sign

To: Code Enforcement Officer Chris Elbon

Chris, this sign is presently on Broadway at the corner of Longboat Drive South, put up by Michael Saunders.

The least the town can do to try to keep our neighborhoods free of more sign pollution, is to call the heads of all of the real estate companies, and insist that they have their people not put signs in the right-of-way.

This is easily done. Simply say you must inform your people that it is illegal to put signs in the right-of-way and there will be fines if you do so henceforth. This is not difficult.

It is a simple matter for the town to control signage by going after the people who are responsible for putting it up, rather than running around all day trying to find signs. If the people who own these real estate brokerage offices are heavily fined, they will soon solve the problem for you.

Using a top-down structure of enforcement, may be far more efficient than running around looking for individual signs everyday. By going after the people who cause the sign pollution the problem may be easily controlled and save tax dollars.

If the town does not already have a fee structure for sign violations, they need to pass one quickly.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Request for groin design, Longbeach Condominiums

To: Public Works Project Manager James Linkhogle

Thank you and Issac for meeting with Bob Appel and I last Friday regarding the proposed two southerly rock groins and their location in front of the Longbeach Condominiums. Bob is the Coastal Chair for the Association, I am a volunteer resident.

We discussed several of the points made during the meeting and I have followed up on the ones that received comment.

First, we have confirmed that moving acreat sand from a southerly location, back to its original location/placement, on our beach, would require a state permit, and that they would want to see a lot of justification before issuing

Such a permit, but it could be done, and isn’t against a law if done with the permit.

Secondly, we will await the modeling that Olsen has done to show the expected benefit of the rock groin to be placed south and adjacent to the current sea wall at the Coquina building. As you may recall, I have asked that this groin

Be delayed until after the three new northerly groins nearer the inlet be finished and functioning, in order to determine if the southerly rock groin near Coquina, and perhaps the one near the Broadway street access, are even needed.

The modeling results will help us evaluate the potential for meaningful success. If the benefits are relatively small, by delaying, the city would save the expense, too. We are asking for the same approach that the Commissioners would like from

Sarasota regarding the new roundabout. Wait for the results of the other changes, turn lane etc., before committing to the roundabout and its potential impact on traffic and evacuations.

Given the rarity of installing such groins, that will have dramatic effect on the recreational value of the private residences, the property value impact, and the environmental and visual degradation, I wanted to encourage patience before taking the risk

Of there being minimal positive impact as is suggested by the history of that small area of beach and its success in regulating itself. I have personally been a continuous user of that beach since 1976. When do you think you will be sending modeling visuals?

David Baughman

Longboat Key

 

Parking in the Village

To: Vice Mayor Ed Zunz

Ed, as I recall, when the town has time and time again allowed Ed Chiles to relentlessly expand his operation in the village, over the vigorous protests of many village residents, there was always the argument used by the Mar Vista that they in fact did have adequate parking space for the additional tables, and the commission was always able to embrace such absurd assumptions, such as people using boat slips in the middle of the night, or cycling to the restaurant in the torrid heat of our summer months. Now the absurd, and obviously village unfriendly, commission excesses are a serious on-going problem for an entire neighborhood.

Ed, I do not believe the town would be violating any laws by restricting parking in the village. I believe there was never any granting of use in any of the variances, codes and ordinances formed between the town and the restaurant owners. Just the opposite, the seating expansions were granted based solely on available on-site parking space.

If the Mar Vista has adequate parking, including a bike rack that no one every uses, as they argued each time they were granted more and more seats, as the commission turned a blind eye to the reality or ever worsening traffic congestion and on-going unsafe conditions on Broadway, there is absolutely no reason to have any on-street parking in the village, save for commercial services and deliveries. And like many other communities, the town can issue resident guest parking plaques to all residents.

I do not believe that America has reached a point where businesses feel they can claim inalienable rights to use public streets as parking lots for their employees and excess number of customers, caused greatly by a neighborhood unfriendly refusal to use a reservation system to reduce traffic congestion, when the businesses in question argued that, after all, they already had adequate on-site parking, no matter how contorted their arguments.

I doubt you will find many village residents that believe that congested commercial on-street parking is better than no commercial parking on quiet and narrow village streets.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

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