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Editorial Letters – Week ending July 26, 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.

Circling the traffic problem

To: Editor

I don’t believe it. Our traffic managers are going to add speed bumps to St. Armand’s Circle?

When I stopped laughing at the idea of a traffic circle with speed bumps. I began to cry when I realized how slow and dangerous this will make the Circle – worse than ever.

A traffic circle is not supposed to stop everyone but to allow cars to join the circle by slipping into the traffic. Yet now cars honk at you if you try to break into the circle. Now no one knows who has the right of way so everybody stops. Then just as you begin to move someone opens a car door in front of you and you slam on your brakes so you won’t hurt the person. Now he sees parking meters and stops to look at them. Allowing people to park on a circle is very dangerous.

And suddenly your car hits a speed bump and jerks to the right. You grab the wheel – which distracts you from that pedestrian still loose on the street. Soon your mind begins to forget all you are supposed to keep track of. Please don’t jerk me around while I’m trying to concentrate on all the dangers on this circle.

On the days with little traffic, the circle is a joy. I whizz around it early in the morning and get to Sarasota quickly. That’s how it should work – and did until traffic managers and parking meter companies decided you had to pay to drive.

The new rotary planned to slow us down as we leave Gulf Stream Avenue to merge onto The Trail is a different story. Remember that the water level is up to the street there, and a full moon or a rainstorm will put it all under water. So first it must all be elevated. Tourists will stop until they figure out who has the right of way and with many roads entering, traffic will move very slowly. I know that drivers coming from LBK going to a job or an appointment or a play.

Will want to get there on time. So we will be back to leaving very early since we’ll not know how long it will take to get by this new impediment.

The Bay has planned overhead walkways so pedestrians and those using wheelchairs will be able to cross to their activities, just north of the new rotary. Yes, we will be slowing down traffic to help pedestrians.

You must be kidding! Walking this route? Sarasota seems to be trying to keep her neighbors from coming on its streets. They want tourists to walk, just not their neighbors.

Anne G. Arsenault

Longboat Key

 

David Brenner will be missed

To: Editor

It is with great sadness that I am reading your article about Dave while visiting Germany to help my Dad celebrate his 80th birthday. Dave was truly a wonderful visionary and one of the most open-minded men I’ve met in the U.S. He will be dearly missed by many fellow Longboaters, whose lives he touched in different but always kind, considerate, humble and really positive and pleasant ways. My sincere condolences go out to his lovely wife Maggie, his children and grandchildren.

My prayers and thoughts are with you at this sad time and I hope that all the wonderful memories you shared will help you overcome your grieve and loss of one of Longboat Key’s finest.

Tina Rudek-Stark

Longboat Key

 

Tennis courts out of Bayfront

To: Editor

There was a large group of tennis players who had a low-key round robin three times a week at Bayfront. Is that just discarded? Do they now have to join or pay at the tennis center? Is the opportunity to hit a few tennis balls around with loved ones gone? Yet pickle ball (which I very much like), will be able to have free use of their courts?

Ron Sislowki

Longboat Key

 

Baby Peacocks

To: Editor

Your prime headline and secondary editorial are for some reason critical of the commission in general and me in particular, but when all is done the question remains…why? Your first page states that the writer of the polite Claypoole letter to me, the 5th district commissioner, “understands that the population (of peacocks) has to be controlled.” Your article recites how the population again got out of control a few years ago. There were strong opinions on all sides; leave as is, total removal, or (the majority and my preference) reduce the flock. The town and commission, at great cost, agreed to leave many of the males (in peacocks, they are the beautiful ones) and relocate all the rest of the peacocks. Professionals were retained to capture the birds in traps. Only when some extra wiley adults were left was consent given to use tranquilizers if necessary.  Thereafter, all remained quiet. Prior to receipt of the Claypoole letter, I was not even aware that the town had been doing an annual culling of the chicks from a stray female.  This was a staff matter that did not come back to the commission.

I try to respond to most letters and, after making inquires of staff, since the Claypooles were new to the village I sent them my letter recounting some of the above history.  Contrary to the fears you suggest, I am informed that no tranquilizer guns have ever been used since the program a few years ago and never on any chicks. For as cute as they are, both male and female chicks soon grow to become adults and with five or more in a litter it would not take long to be facing another expensive removal program. Reasonable opinions can vary but the actions taken a few years ago were reasonable under all of the circumstances. You have never lived in Longboat Key and certainly not in the village.  Your posturing and uninformed judgments about intolerance on the part of many who do live here are far out of line. Are you proposing no control at all? Exactly what are you proposing?     

Ed Zunz

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Ringling Editortial letter to the editor

To: Editor

Your intemperate July 19 editorial suddenly reopens differences that were heavily reported in your newspaper more than two months ago, but have not received much press since that time. I suspect you are now prompted by ulterior motives and we both know what they are. Your editorial makes unproductive personal attacks on Mayor Spoll and me.  I have no idea if the mayor will respond or ignore your nasty remarks, but I will confine this personal response to your attacks on me.

A few months ago the Observer addressed the Ringling situation, asking why the public’s wishes had never been sought and posting an informal survey for their consideration.  A week later the Observer reported that a majority of about 100 responses were negative.  A couple days later Ringling pulled out of the tentative relationship with the Town.  The cause and significance of those events were the subject of the earlier above-mentioned press coverage.  Now you choose to bring prior controversies back to life.

You claim that “when the final Memorandum of Understanding between the Town and Ringling was to be finalized” I “derailed the entire plan and betrayed the entire community” with my “toxic leadership style.”  Strong words, but to start with, what final Memorandum?  Did you note that Section 5 of the document says it does not “create any right, benefit or trust responsibility” and that “either party may terminate this Agreement by providing ninety (90) days written notice to the other party.” And how about Section 7 that says:  “No liability will arise or be assumed between the Town and Ringling as a result of this Agreement.”  Some “final” agreement! Ringling reserved the absolute right to get out at any time and it did.  If it would prefer unanimous acclimation on its terms, under all circumstances the new draft Memorandum gave it that right.  It could have waited a year or much longer to withdraw.

And how about my so-called toxic rhetoric? It will be recalled that an art center had existed in the village for a long, long time. About ten years ago it was taken over by Ringling. Some programs were eliminated, membership gradually declined and a proposed major building addition was projected to attract visiting students from outside the area.  For some reason this plan was abandoned, the art center was closed down and Ringling sold the land to a residential developer.  If Ringling was now going to create a new art school at the Town Center, I felt a duty to the Town and the public to do some due diligence and learn from that prior experience about the feasibility of a new art center.  Any problems then should be avoided now. I never got to ask Ringling any questions because it was not present and I could not get commission consensus to invite them because some felt so highly about Ringling that they truly believed that my concerns could only bespeak distrust of Ringling.  You now go far beyond suspected distrust and imagine me using “words of vitriol and disdain.”  To the contrary, I have a great deal of respect for Ringling but do not feel that this gives anyone an automatic “pass” on such necessary and routine business practices, particularly when I am under oath to protect the interests of the municipality.

Then there is the planned adult learning center, such as the one I still belong to at Ringling’s Sarasota facility and the one Susan Goldfarb has successfully run in Longboat Key for some 30 years, which I have also attended.  Again I felt it was my duty to inquire about how they would impact each other.  Would they merge?  If not, would it be right to solicit many millions of dollars for the Town to create a new facility to compete with our existing home grown facility?  If they did compete, with our limited and seasonal population, might they drive each other out of business?  Again Ringling was not present and I felt this was important relevant information.  The majority again interpreted my concerns as distrust, but the discussion ended when a former commissioner assured us all that those parties had already worked out an arrangement.  I have no doubt this comment was offered in good faith, but I spoke to Ms. Goldfarb shortly thereafter and she insisted that the comment was a mistake because she never had any agreement with Ringling.

Then there is the interest of the public.  The entire purpose of the Town Center is to bring more of our citizens together to share common interests.  At a Town meeting you spoke to suggest that the commission need not get too hung up about public interest, but should assume a leadership role.  In other words, it is not for the public to tell us what activities they would like; rather, it is for us to tell the public to enjoy what they will get.  Forgive me if, in your view, my disagreement makes me a menace to the community. As to my wife, there cannot be many other citizens who, in so many capacities including creation of a viable Town Center, have faithfully donated thousands of hours to this community. Yet, you even find fault with her expressing her personal views in a letter on an important subject with which she is extremely well informed, in some respects beyond the reach of the commission. There are still other valid factors to be considered.  If any of your readers would like to discuss any of these matters they should contact me.  I would be happy to talk with them individually or in a group.

In September I hope the commission will proceed with a special workshop and attract interested citizens to come and participate in joint consideration of the best uses for this beautiful property.  Have you ever walked the entire site? It is certainly not the “brownfields” that you suggest. Working together, the Commission would like to arrange some musical and other outdoor events for the coming season. Once we get the public better informed and involved, I think we should hire a qualified professional to conduct appropriate surveys to find out what the public really wants and what is actually feasible on the site. Maybe your newspaper could play a positive role in such joint efforts.

Ed Zunz

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Florida Planning Officials training

To: Senior Office Manager Planning, Zoning & Building Donna Chipman

I think you already have me on your list.

Ken Schneier

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Florida Planning Officials training

To: Town Commission

This is a reminder that if you are interested in participating in the Florida Planning Officials Training, hosted by the Town of Longboat Key, please RSVP by August 2nd so we can ensure we have sufficient materials for the session.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you should have any questions.

Donna Chipman

Senior Office Manager

Longboat Key Planning, Zoning & Building

 

Florida residents buy power

To: Vice Mayor Ed Zunz

Ed, I saw a piece in today’s town mail about allowing Florida residents to buy power from a competitive marketplace. I already get renewable energy from Arcadia Power, as can all Longboat Key residents. I have requested that the town purchase it’s power from Arcadia to set a green example of how we can all help slow climate change.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Gas leaks

To: Town Commission

See update below from the Fire Chief regarding a gas leak on the south end of Gulf of Mexico Drive earlier this evening. I have been advised that the Town’s contractor was working in the right of way just south of Club Road when the line was hit in an area that did not appear to be marked for a gas line. Public Works staff will be investigating the cause and meeting with TECO representatives and the Contractor. This is the 3rd gas line hit recently by 3 different contractors in three different parts of the Key and due to the hazardous nature of a gas leak has caused Gulf of Mexico Drive to be shut down each time. This is obviously frustrating to our residents and also to the staff. I will be meeting with the project team on the results of their review and will share their actions to address going forward.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Electrical Undergrounding underway

To: Town Commission

Wilco officially started work this morning at the south end of the island (Phase 1 Area).  They successfully completed their first bore this afternoon under GMD just south of the Chart House.  As you are aware, their initial work in Phase 1 will be in the GMD right of way before they ultimately transition into the neighborhoods.

The Town’s website has a link for the Undergrounding Project and the staff will be communicating regular updates as the project progresses.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Motorcycle Traffic Unit Officer – Accident

To: Sarasota City Commission

Given that a couple of you are out of town, I am e-mailing this communication to share that Officer David Kennedy (Motorcycle Traffic Unit) was hit this morning at U.S. 301/Ringling while attempting to initiate a traffic stop. From all reports he appears to be OK but is at SMH for further observation and tests. I will keep you informed.

Marlon Brown

Deputy City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Motorcycle Traffic Unit Officer – Accident

To: Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown, Sarasota City Commission

I just left SMH. The Officer is being treated, is with his family, and is in good spirits.  U.S. 301 was closed briefly in all directions, the roadway is now open, investigation is ongoing. I have any ready spoken with HR and they stand ready to assist on the insurance/worker’s comp side if needed.   

Deputy Chief Patrick Robinson

Sarasota Police Department

 

Motorcycle Traffic Unit Officer – Accident

To: Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

Thank you for the update. Prayers for the officer’s speedy recovery.

Shelli Freeland Eddie

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Motorcycle Traffic Unit Officer – Accident

To: Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

Glad he appears to be okay. Our thoughts are with him.

Liz Alpert

Mayor

City of Sarasota

To: Mike Holderness

Thanks  for getting in touch. I have copied the Mr. Fournier, City Attorney, on this email as he has previously advised against a meeting, but should he revise his opinion he can contact me and I will let you know. I await his response.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Vice Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

SBE

To: Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

Would like to set up a time to chat.  Unlike Mr. Barwin states, I’m not a party to any lawsuits against the City.

Michael S. Holderness

Beachside Management, LLC

 

FEI & LensLock body worn cam vendor

To: Sarasota City Commission

It is our understanding that you may be in the market for body camera service.  Here is what makes FEI/LensLock different:

The EQT is provided at no cost – and new body cams every 30 months too with free replacements if/when cams fail.

Unlimited data plan – using Microsoft Azure, you can budget your annual cost with zero surprise “data overage fees.”

Local customer service from FEI – when you need us, we actually show up in person to make sure your BWC initiative is a success.

The best reason to take a good look at LensLock is the price. $911 per officer per year for body cam service (& $1,911 per vehicle per year for in-car video service). Give us a call today and take advantage of our free pilot program offer!

Jon Handy

LensLock, Inc.

Body Worn Cameras & In-Car Video Systems

 

New proposed panhandling ordinance

To: City Manager Tom Harmer

I would like to add an agenda item to a future city commission meeting re: Discussion and direction on adopting a New Proposed Panhandling Ordinance for the City of Sarasota.  Ill be in the office tomorrow to discuss/have some possible dates.

Hagen Brody

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

New composting program in St. Pete

To: City Commission

In case you have not heard, the City of St. Pete has launched a Residential Composting Program. St. Pete residents can sign up at the link below and the city will drop off a bin at your house. The city doesn’t collect the compost, so you will be able to use it in your yard or donate it to a community garden.

Anna Ruth

Director of Grant Development

Eckerd College

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