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Editorial Letters – Week ending July 31, 2020

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 Longboat Key Town Hall that address Longboat Key issues as well as Sarasota City Hall that address Sarasota issues. We reserve the right to edit.

Mask shaming comment is out of line

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

While I appreciate you for volunteering your time to be a Longboat Key Commissioner, I take strong issue with your comment printed in the July 10 issue of the Longboat Key News: “…and the whining about protecting others by wearing a face covering diminish.”

You are out of line with that remark. Plenty of people do not agree that forcing the entire population to wear a mask will help others. This is the mainstream way of shaming those of us who prefer to think for ourselves and do not think all of us wearing a mask will make a difference. You represent all of us, even the ones who do not agree with you on every issue.

Terry Osiecki

Longboat Key

 

Tropical Storm Isaias

To: Longboat Key Commission

As you are aware, there continues to be a fair amount of activity in the tropics as we move through the early part of Hurricane Season. I wanted to let you know that we are closely monitoring Disturbance 25.

As you can see in the information below some of the forecast models bring the storm up through the Florida Peninsula through the weekend and into early Monday. They are forecasting the disturbance to be upgraded to Tropical Storm Isaias later today. At this point there is a high degree of uncertainty in both the track and the intensity over the next couple of days.

We will continue to monitor and as the forecast becomes clearer, we will provide periodic updates if the track has the potential to impact Southwest Florida.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Water quality testing

To: Longboat Key Commission

Updated water quality testing results attached.  As mentioned by the environmental consultant, these results convey some of the lowest bacteriological results to date. We continue to coordinate with the FDEP and our Environmental Consultant. Water quality testing continues and once complete, a final report will be issued.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Complimentary clean up service

To: Longboat Key Commission

Larry Starr and his local company Resort Vacation Accommodations (RVA) is offering complementary services to various properties throughout the Town to help them bring in beach furniture at the end of the day to help with turtle season requirements. We are very appreciative of their efforts to assist the local properties with this very important service.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Kudos to RVA for beach furniture nightly clean-up service

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

As mentioned to you the other day, I wanted to make sure some extensive credit and appreciation is expressed for an amazingly generous offer from Larry Starr and his company Resort Vacation Accommodations (RVA). RVA’s offer, to provide a complimentary service this sea turtle nesting season, bringing in beach furniture away from the shore, at various properties throughout the Town, hits on a critical need. Their service offer, with 5 employees dedicated to it, begins tonight.

Beach furniture that’s left out on the beach can be a hazard to nesting mature turtles (who can become permanently tangled up in the furniture) and to hatchlings. Our Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance requires beach furniture to be off the beach nightly (between 11 p.m.- 5 a.m.) during sea turtle nesting season. The service that RVA will be offering to many properties throughout the Town will be an enormous help in managing these hazards.

This incredibly valuable and generous service offer is a win-win-win (for the Turtles, Town properties and the Town) that the Town is deeply grateful for.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Undergrounding Project Update

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

The Town Commission formally adopted the FY20 Budget, including Undergrounding components, at the September 23, 2019, Special Meeting. Town staff is working on finalizing updates to the Capital Improvement elements for FY21.  An Update on adjustments to the Phase Three FPL Binding Cost Estimate budgets is provided herein.

 

Undergrounding Project – Design-Build RFP

Wilco-FPL:

Work in Phase 1 is staying within the anticipated schedule. All boring operations/conduit placement within Phase 1 Neighborhood (NH) is complete.  Crews are finalizing the installation of wire and setting of transformer equipment and terminations on final remaining locations in Country Club Shores.  Final conversions of individual OH service drops are still on schedule allowing the way for pole removal by late summer, early fall of 2020.

Phase 2 work continues with installation of conductors in the feeder conduits within the GMD corridor from Longboat Pass Bridge working towards the southern terminus of the phase at Dream Island Road, including Broadway and General Harris Streets. Work includes installation of extended primary conductors as well.  This portion of the work should be completed by the end of July and Wilco will coordinate with the Town on initiation of the Neighborhood UG work.

The Town is in process of obtaining final signatures for the Phase 3 Binding Cost estimate. Town staff will issue a Work Assignment to Wilco along with a notice to proceed to order and take receipt of materials to commence work as soon as practicable.

 

Frontier:

Frontier has completed their work within Phase 1. Meanwhile, Frontier is actively working to complete their undergrounding and or removal of non-active aerial facilities work within Phase 2 and Phase 3.

 

Comcast:

The project team is coordinating closely with Comcast and their sub-contractor Knight Broadband to ensure any active aerial service lines are or will be undergrounded and removed. This work needs to be completed ahead of the final FPL conversion switch orders, so that Comcast does not delay any of the pole removals. Wilco will begin installation of Comcast conduits in the GMD / FDOT Right of Way by the end of-July.

 

Town Fiber Work:

Town fiber conduit and vaults within Phase 1 are being installed concurrently with Wilco-FPL work.  Wilco is complete with installations of the Town fiber conduit along all Neighborhood streets in Phase 1.

Installation of Town fiber conduit along Longboat Club Road is approximately 50% complete and does not involve any FPL nor Town street lighting. Crews will complete the Town’s fiber installation conduit and vaults by the end of July.

 

Smart Street Lighting (“SSL”):

Town streetlight conduit and vaults are being installed simultaneously with the Town fiber. Accordingly, the Phase 1 schedule for this work falls in line with the above fiber conduit.

The Town has obtained both a FDOT Right of Way Utility and General Use permit for the installation of fiber, streetlights and associated conduit and splice boxes along the Phase 1 GMD corridor.  Wilco will commence this work in the GMD corridor the last week of July along with the Comcast conduit installations.

Wilco has provided final streetlight submittals for GMD and Neighborhood poles, support arms, and fixtures.  Wilco is completing designs for locations and wiring for all remaining neighborhood and GMD phases.

The original intent of the Town Street Light Project was and remains:

Improve both quality of light and pole/fixture aesthetics.

Provide poles that are “smart capable” for potential wireless and cell carrier enhancement, and Replace any/all streetlights on existing FPL aerial facilities so that once the underground conversion is in place, the town project can remove the aerial facilities/poles including FPL lights.

The project team is continuing outreach to association representatives as we progress forward.

 

Budget, Schedule, and Other Items of Interest:

Phase 1 – The project team is pleased to continue to report, that as majority of the infrastructure nears completion within Phase 1, including a significant portion of the town fiber being installed concurrently with the FPL undergrounding, we have not had to utilize any contingency funds to-date. The project has remained under the original budget as presented in previous updates.

The street lighting budget remains positive for GMD due to the reduction of original streetlights consistent the FDOT Lighting Justification Study. Although the Town has been able to find ways to negotiate to bring the overall project under original budgets, the neighborhood street lighting budget remains at the original projected amount.  This includes transferring some intersection streetlighting into the GMD budget.

Phase 2 – Similar to the above, the Town is pleased to continue to report that budget for the primary feeders along GMD and within the neighborhood section (Village) the Town has not utilized any contingency funds to date. As with Phase 1, the Town will continue to mitigate any potential issues to preserve project contingency funds.

No fiber or streetlight conduit has been installed to date within Phase 2. As with Phase 1, once the Town has the design and permits in place for the fiber & streetlight, Wilco will begin installations concurrent with FPL undergrounding.

Phase 3 (formerly Phase 3 and portion of the original Phase 5) – The Town has received the Binding Cost Estimate (BCE) from FPL for Phase 3 including design plans. Staff has negotiated with Wilco the final costs for this Phase. As a result, we are under original budget estimate by $1,238,872, including cost for new Auto Vista Switches. Staff will be providing a recommendation to the Town Manager to proceed with the work.

Phase 4 (Final Phase) – The Town was recently advised by FPL that they are working diligently to provide Phase 4 preliminary design to the Town by the end of July or first of August. This is ahead of the original design schedule and will be a positive for the goal of advancing the overall project schedule we are striving for.

 

Next Steps:

Finalize remaining Phase One and Two Easements.  To be submitted with final “as-built” drawings prior to switch orders being completed for final power conversions.

Finalize remaining smart streetlight pole, fiber-optic conduit, wind load, and electrical connection designs with Wilco.  A smart streetlight pole matrix is in progress with Wilco for the purposes of cost and feature comparison.  These will be consistent with the Town approved design for GMD and Neighborhood streetlights.

Permit drawings through FDOT for all Town fiber and streetlight work on GMD for remaining phases. Phase Two drawings are complete and ready for submission for FDOT review and approval.

Concurrently, finalize Work Assignments for Wilco to begin work in Neighborhoods Phases Two.

Sign and submit Binding Cost Estimate Agreements for FPL Phase 3 work.

FPL complete Phase 4 design and development of the Binding Cost Estimate.

Explore Gulf of Mexico Drive multi-purpose pathway lighting options and cost out the improvements

Continue to obtain available information and gauge interest with major carriers and also evaluate potential for a future RFP for another attempt at a public-private partnership (P3).

Isaac Brownman

Public Works Director

Town of Longboat Key

 

Manatee County enacts local face covering resolution requiring masks

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

Manatee County Commissioners today voted to enact a local face covering resolution that goes into effect immediately. Those entering a business in Manatee County will be required to wear a face mask.

The resolution requires an individual in a business establishment to wear a face covering while inside the business, unless social distancing can be achieved (6 feet or more apart). The mask mandate will not apply to children under age six or to those “who have trouble breathing due to a chronic pre-existing condition or individuals with a documented or demonstrable medical problem.”

The meeting began with an update on local COVID-19 conditions from County leaders, and an extended update from Dr. Jennifer Bencie, director of the Department of Health in Manatee County. Bencie said the local medical community estimates as much as 48 percent of Manatee County residents may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic phase and spreading the coronavirus.

“That’s why masks are vital,” Bencie said. “The evidence is clear that masks help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the more people that wear masks, the better. There are three W’s to ward off COVID-19: Wearing a mask, washing your hands and watching your distance. Of the three the most important is wearing a mask.”

Bencie cited a study that found mask mandates led to a slow-down in daily COVID-19 growth rates which became more apparent over time.

The County Attorney’s Office modeled the Manatee County resolution from Leon County’s face covering order which has withstood legal challenges. Today’s draft resolution can be viewed on the Board’s agenda section of the County website. The Board voted 4-3 to approve the resolution but added a requirement that a warning be issued before any citation penalties. The updated version will be posted to the County’s website when it is available.

A list of locations where citizens can pick up a mask will also be posted to the County website.

Commissioners opted not to adopt a face mask ordinance, instead deciding to review the resolution publicly on a regular basis in the coming weeks. The County’s face covering resolution will not take the place of any existing face mask ordinance or resolution in any of its municipalities.

Steve Litschauer

Chief Emergency Management

Manatee County

 

Wastewater into the Bay results

To: Longboat Key Commission

See attached the latest press release regarding the wastewater leak including the results of the recent human fecal indicator testing in the Bay.

Those results are summarized below:

No human-source material was detected in the Bay at the stations nearest to the leak or adjacent to the intercoastal waterway along the pipeline route.

A human source was detected, but too small to quantify at a station 2.5 miles away near the Bayshore Gardens area.  In the opinion of our consultant and in relation to all other tests taken and observations made to date, this detection is unrelated to the leak event and is more likely related to a localized source. For further details, the analysis by ESA is attached.

We continue to coordinate with the FDEP regarding the leak and any corrective action that may be required.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

Florida Department of Health Highlights Recent Public Health Advisory

To: Longboat Key Commission

This week, the Florida Department of Health (Department) issued an additional Public Health Advisory in response to COVID-19, providing recommendations to protect Floridians and visitors from this virus. This advisory is in addition to steps that the Department has taken to increase mitigation measures, including the purchase of more than 14 million cloth masks, which are actively being distributed statewide and an expanded statewide Public Service Announcement Campaign, which encourages Floridians to avoid the Three Cs:

– Closed Spaces. Avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation that could allow contagious droplets to linger in the air.

– Crowded Places. Avoid crowded places with many people nearby; the greater the number of individuals in an area, the greater the chances of COVID-19 spreading from person-to-person.

– Close-Contact Settings. Avoid close-range conversations and stay at least six-feet from others.

The Public Health Advisory provides the following recommendations:

All individuals in Florida should wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in any setting where social distancing is not possible, both indoors and outdoors, unless any of the following apply:

A child is under two years of age;

An individual has one or more medical conditions or disabilities that prevent wearing a face covering;

An individual is obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service;

An individual works in a profession where use of a face covering will not be compatible with the duties of the profession; or

An individual is engaged in outdoor work or recreation with appropriate social distancing.

Businesses and organizations are encouraged to require individuals who enter the premises to wear a face covering.

All individuals should refrain from participation in social or recreational gatherings of more than 10 people. For all gatherings of fewer than 10 people, individuals should practice social distancing by maintaining a distance of at least six feet from each other and wearing a face covering.

This is a reinforcement of the previously issued advisory as well as direction that has been provided in the task force report for a Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery.

Click here to review this Public Health Advisory.

Currently all counties except Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach are in Phase 2, which dictates:

Restaurants:

May operate at fifty percent of the establishment’s indoor capacity.

May operate at full capacity outside with appropriate social distancing.

Bar areas may operate with seated service.

Bars:

DBPR Amended Order 2020-09 limits on-premises alcohol sales to businesses that hold a DBPR food service license at the location where alcoholic beverages are sold.  Alcoholic beverage vendors that do not hold a DBPR food service license are not permitted to offer alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption but may continue offering packaged sales for consumption off the premises.  Nightclubs remain closed.

Entertainment businesses, including but not limited to movie theaters, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys and arcades:

May operate at fifty percent of the establishment’s capacity with appropriate social distancing between groups and proper sanitization protocols.

In-store retail businesses:

May operate at full capacity with appropriate social distancing measures and proper sanitization protocols.

Gyms and fitness centers:

May operate at full capacity with appropriate social distancing and frequent sanitization.

Personal services including but not limited to tattooing, body piercing, tanning and massage:

May operate while adhering to appropriate safety guidelines outlined by the Florida Department of Health.

Barber shops, hair salons and nail salons:

May continue to operate while adhering to safety protocols.

Phase 2 continued emphasis on preventative measures outlined by the CDC and OSHA:

Senior citizens and individuals with a significant underlying medical condition are strongly encouraged to avoid crowds and take measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Individuals should avoid gathering in groups larger than 50.

All persons who work in long-term care facilities should be tested for COVID-19 on a routine basis.

The three counties with the highest number of cases (Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties) are still in Phase 1, which dictates:

Restaurants and food establishments:

May operate at fifty percent capacity with proper social distancing.

Outdoor seating is encouraged.

Retail establishments:

May operate at up to fifty percent capacity indoors with appropriate social distancing measures and proper sanitization protocols.

Museums and libraries:

May operate at up to fifty percent capacity if permitted by local governments.

Gyms and fitness centers:

May operate at up to fifty percent capacity with appropriate social distancing and sufficient sanitization measures.

Barber shops, hair salons, and nail salons:

May operate while adhering to safety protocols.

Edward McCrane

Emergency Management Chief

Sarasota County

 

COVID-19 impacts on town budget

To: Longboat Key Commission

Attached is the latest update on COVID 19 impacts to our current budget (FY20).  Our Finance Director Sue Smith and her team are doing a great job tracking the impacts on a monthly basis.

You can see in the report the analysis and trends in each of the revenue categories and the tie back to the original assumptions.  The good news is we are tracking a bit better than originally projected.  We continue to predict revenue losses but the current projections have improved some since the mid-year estimate.

For example, the general fund has gained $47,693 since the mid-year estimate with a revised loss of $225,833.  All other funds have gained $35,003 with a revised estimated loss of $322,871.

There are still a lot of unknowns as we look out to the rest of this fiscal year and into FY21 and we will continue to monitor on a monthly basis.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager, Town of Longboat Key

 

Longboat Key Club lighting

To: Longboat Key Public Works Project Manager James Linkogle

Thank you for this information. Bob would be interested in chatting with Tom about our lighting situation.

I am also requesting a letter from the Town of Longboat explaining how the under grounding is being handled along Longboat Club Road. I know you verbally explained it but I would like a letter from the Town explaining the process. Thanks for this information and for the upcoming letter.

Dorothy O’Brien

President

Longboat Key Association, Inc.

 

Longboat Key Club lighting

To: Longboat Key Association President Dorothy O’Brien

I am introducing you to Tom Nemic, Pres./Owner, Wilco Electrical LLC, our undergrounding contractor performing the work of installing fiber conduit and splice boxes currently underway along the right of way of Longboat Club Road.

You all have expressed interest to me the possibility of a new lighting program in your community roadway. Tom is certainly positioned to assist in any way he can.

If you are willing to provide your contact information to Tom other than this email please feel free to do so. If you need any further information please let me know, thanks!

James Linkogle

Public Works Project Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Longboat Key Club lighting

To: Longboat Key Public Works Project Manager James Linkogle

Do you have a contact for Longboat Key Club?  Mark said that they may want to swap out their streetlights as well.

Tom Nemic

President, Wilco Electrical LLC

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