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LBK: A lot to be proud about, but comments reveal unresolved issues

BLAKE FLEETWOOD
Guest Columnist
opinion@lbknews.com

In order to understand what we want and need on Longboat Key, it is important to figure out who we are.

This is the key to interpreting the results of the LBK Citizen Satisfaction Survey taken earlier this year by the Florida Institute of Government at the University of South Florida.

Stephen Neely, Ph.D, who conducted the survey, told the Town that the results were impressive. “A lot to be proud about”, he said. 97% described the quality of life on Longboat Key as either “Excellent” or “Good”.

Life on LBK certainly is good. But we must consider our overall demographics. We are practically an active retirement community — Older, White, and Wealthy.

The 2010 census shows that we are 99.24% white, about 2% Latino. 16.2% of us are foreign born; very few Blacks, less than 1%.

The medium income for a household in Longboat Key is $290,251 and the medium income for a family was $307,983, according to Wikipedia.

Only 23.6% of us have a job.

68.9% of us are 65 years and older. Only 1.7% are under 18 years old.

Estimated median value of houses and condos is $906,963. In Florida, as a whole, the figure is $214,000.

The Citizen Survey of 597 LBK residents had some predictable results: 56.6% of respondents rated the quality of life in LBK as excellent, (good weather and fantastic beaches contributes) 41.5% as good and only 2.3% as fair. 79% said they were satisfied with the overall direction taken by the town.

The official survey posted the LBK website was valuable in telling the Town what the residents want on specific issues. 45% of residents are concerned about beach erosion, 38% about infrastructure, 36% about sea level rise. (We are only 3 feet above sea level!)

One specific example: in the proposed Arts, Cultural and Education Center, 56% of residents said they wanted lifelong learning, 52% performing arts, 39% technology education, and 39% said music and music appreciation.

But most interestingly, in the Open Ended Comments section (not yet published or released), there emerged disturbing concerns, mostly about traffic problems, but also a host other issues. The comments were all anonymous by design.

 

A selection of verbatim resident quotes Comment section:

—Traffic, sea level rise, periodic red tide, building of huge hotels and houses are impacting the quality of my life and retirement on LBK.

— GoM vehicle traffic often exceeds the speed limits and is dangerous. It has become just a thoroughfare. 5 deaths last year is unacceptable. Cycling is high-risk.

— problem is the ability to get on and off of the Key in season. Restaurants and shopping are limited. All cultural events and movies are off the key – Sarasota or Bradenton. Traffic dictates life during the season.

— I have indicated “fair” for only one reason – traffic. Everything would be excellent if the Town would once and for all deal with this issue. We find ourselves captive – it is too frustrating and unpleasant to try to go off, during the season

— Faced with triple threat:traffic, red tide, flooding.  More diversity would be good too

— Most working folks can’t afford to live on LBK and must commute and seasonal traffic makes those daily commutes very difficult. LBK is a very undesirable to work or perform service and repair functions.

— I would rate higher except for the North traffic problem before, during and after season driving through Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island to Cortez Rd.  It keeps getting worse every year

— Life and retirement have been wonderful for last 31 years. We live in the Village and life is becoming strained due to new restaurants and parking issues. Traffic issues on the island itself are very challenging. We discuss moving off the Island due to our lifestyles suffering. It seems we cater more to visitors on the Island than we do to the folks who live here and pay taxes.  Walking dogs, riding bikes, taking a walk are becoming very threatened for safety due to no sidewalks

— With traffic I am not sure how long it will be a good place to visit and am questioning how long we can tolerate living here with no relief in sight.

— I love living here.   I am very disappointed and concerned with the new infusion of traffic in the north end.   Between construction trucks, employee traffic and tourists it is dramatically  changing my quality of life here.

— The traffic issues get worse every year and nothing is being done–but more building.  I am thinking about selling and moving

— Might we consider a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?  You can usually hear one dawn to dusk, even on Sundays.  Also, would be nice if we had one dog-friendly beach.

— During season, we travel to town only when necessary, mostly doctor’s appointments.Living and working here requires more access to business amenities and better experiences with traffic.  But for retirement and visiting, these aren’t as important

— Would be excellent – however – parking, traffic , speeding, lack of enforcement, and,  above all, lack of problem recognition /responsiveness and  visible actions by the town commissioners and town management, lingering issues is extremely unsatisfactory….significant detriment to the quality of life on LBK!

— We feel that the town council needs to be more responsive to the opinions of the residents. Because there are many people who cannot vote in electoral matters the town council needs to listen to opinions expressed at town meetings.

— Traffic, parking on streets, and the very significant increase in number of people in Longboat Village due to the new Shore restaurant and the Mar Vista restaurant have decreased the quality of life …  The village was a small quiet, charming place but the traffic has inexorably changed how it feels

— we are finding it is changing too much, not as happy living here as we used to be….., too many live aboard boat people who are not of the best of character and dumping into our beautiful bay waters, using mainland dispatch for our emergency calls, more building although we realize LBK is almost built out but now houses are being torn down for monster homes, just terribly expensive to live on LBK now

  stop the development of & build green space

— I had wanted Miami Beach I would have bought there

— it a great place to work because my husband works from home

— need a downtown

— We are disappointed that the town board  messed up on the Ringling community center.

— Now it is a paradise lost.

Statistics from:city-data.com, longboatkey.org, US Census, Wikipedia,

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