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Editorial Letters – Week ending October 16, 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.

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Longboat Key Commission

As you may know, we have been working with Tom Harmer and the Town staff to address the important issue of the need for a center turn lane between Channel Lane to LB Club Rd (north entrance).   The engineering design for the turn lane was completed earlier this summer.  As Tom notes below, this project is now included in the FDOT 5-year work program with funding and installation slated for 2024/25.  Given the financial pressures facing the  FDOT (and other governmental entities), we are fortunate that Tom and his staff were able to secure this ‘spot’ for the turn lane project in the FDOT work plan.  If you have questions concerning this project, please let Tom or me know.

Sherry Dominick

Commissioner. Longboat Key

 

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Commissioner Dominick, as requested, here is the current status of the Country Club Shores center turn lane project.

The Country Club Shores Left-Turn Lane project provides a 0.88-mile segment of Gulf of Mexico Drive (“GMD”) from Channel Lane to Longboat Club Road north entrance with a safer refuge for vehicles turning left into that segment of Country Club Shores.

Status:

The project is at 100% engineering design, and we are working with our consultant to obtain an FDOT permit for the improvements.  Part of the permit request includes reducing the speed limit along this segment GMD down to 35-mph in order to reduce the required clear zone width to save several iconic trees in the area and also be consistent with the new roadway cross-section which introduces raised medians and a reduced center turn-lane width.  With the addition of raised medians as well as wider bicycle lanes that will be part of the project, the road improvement becomes more consistent with the approved GMD Corridor Plan concept.   The FDOT is requiring a variance for the 10’ wide center turn lane as part of the project review/approval.  The variance has been submitted.

Center turn lane construction is included in the FDOT’s five (5) year work program in year 2024/2025 in the amount of $1,441,729.

Next Steps:

Obtain FDOT permit.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Tom, Thank you for the details on this important project. We appreciate you and Issac continuing to push this project along.

Lynn Larson

Longboat Key

 

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Lynn Larson

I think there were likely funding issues but Tom or Jack would know the history.

Sherry Dominick

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Sherry Dominick

This was the project I added when I was on the Commission in either 2015 or 2016 at the request on units CCS 1, 2 and 3.

Lynn Larson

Longboat Key

 

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Lynn Larson

Thanks for your advocacy and work on this project, Lynn.  I know when we met, you had mentioned the importance of this project.  Are you interested in seeing the finalized engineering design?

Sherry Dominick

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Sherri Dominick

Glad to see it but my emphasis is just getting it done and not waiting until we are all dead of old age or someone is killed trying to do a risky move like coming home after going to Publix to buy groceries.  Every time someone traveling south tries to turn left into those southern streets from GMD, in season, the traffic backs up all the way to Publix or beyond and puts bicyclists at risk as people try to pass on the right intruding into the bike lane.  Plus, others have mentioned emergency vehicles trying to navigate south on GMD.  This is a life safety issue for all traffic going South on GMD.  This should be viewed as an Island-wide safety and traffic issue not a Country Club Shores project.

Lynn Larson

Longboat Key

 

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Tom, I remember that I asked for status of this issue at your first official Commission meeting as Town Manager.  I do not remember the exact date but I am sure you know the date.

Lynn Larson

Longboat Key

 

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Lynn Larson

Yes, before your time but this should be in the records and minutes of the town.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Lynn Cook

We make those points to the FDOT on a regular basis and continue to emphasize the safety issue.  The FDOT has stated that unfortunately there are a lot more projects and critical needs than there is funding and based on their criteria there are a number of roads that have greater safety concerns than SR 789 (GMD).  Unfortunately, GMD has to compete with other much higher traffic count State Roads throughout multiple counties for funding.   Doesn’t make it right, but just means we need to continue to advocate for our improvements and push for funding for our priorities.  The Town does have one seat (17-member board) on the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)- the regional body that helps set priorities for local transportation projects.  Commissioner Daly does a great job representing our interests on the MPO.   As I mentioned, the key is getting the funding within the 5-year plan and then working to see if you can move it up once it is funded and yes, it takes longer than any of us would like to see.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thanks for the explanation.  From a safety point of view, this little piece of 3-lane road is probably more dangerous per mile than any project FDOT has in the next five years.  I think the suggestion to add the turn lane was discussed as far back as 2015-2016.  So it will be about ten years of planning for less than two miles, right?  God forbid if someone is killed in the meantime.

Lynn Cook

Longboat Key

 

Country Club Shores Turn Lane

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Sherry Dominick

The Town just completed the construction documents for the proposed improvements.  There had not been any funding set aside for construction either from a Town or a State standpoint for the project- just Town funding for design.  The Town’s approach with proposed improvements to GMD (a State Road) has been to pay for design work to help advance Town priorities and convince the State to make the improvements as these projects tend not to be a State priority.  The same approach is being advanced for the Broadway Roundabout- though it is not as far along as the CCS turn lane and not funded for construction. Last year, as the CCS turn lane design was being finalized, we approached the State and requested that they fund the improvements.  To be funded you have to have the project included in their 5-year workplan.  They indicated a willingness to fund a portion of the project but wanted to wait until the design was finalized.  Now that the design is complete and in final review by FDOT, they placed it in their workplan for Year 5.  I know it seems far off, but that is a big deal that they have moved it into the funded column.  Now that it is in the State’s 5-year workplan, the Town has the ability to encourage them to move it up to a sooner fiscal year as they close out other projects and update the 5 year plan each year.

If the residents have any detailed questions about the project, the Public Works Department is coordinating the effort for final design approval and working with FDOT on funding- so our Public Works Director Isaac Brownman is the best point of contact for additional information.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Resignation from LBK Planning and Zoning Board

To: Longboat Key Commission

See notice below from Ken Marsh resigning his position on the Planning and Zoning Board and as the Town’s representative on the Sarasota County School District facility planning group. The Clerk has started the process to advertise the vacancies.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Resignation from LBK Planning and Zoning Board

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

FYI- See correspondence below from P&Z Board member Ken Marsh regarding his notice of resignation from the P&Z Board.

Ken’s intention is to provide the Town Commission the earliest opportunity to appoint a replacement. We were fortunate to have Ken’s service to the Town as he was an incredibly knowledgeable & thoughtful Board member.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

Resignation from LBK Planning and Zoning Board

To: Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Director Allen Parsons

I hereby resign my position as a member of the Town’s P&Z Board effective immediately.

Sometime later this fall my wife and I will be leaving Longboat Key to pursue another chapter in our lives. While I will still reside here for a while, it is in the best interest of the Town to appoint a replacement early in this next planning cycle. I will return my tablet and binders on Friday.

I was also appointed last year to represent the Town with the Sarasota School District’s School Facility Planning group, which never met. I am leaving that appointment also.

Know that I have enjoyed my time on the P&Z, and hope that I have contributed to the professional planning efforts which you and your staff have led so capably.  I wish you all the best as you tackle the next set of goals for this wonderful community

Ken Marsh

Planning & Zoning Board, Longboat Key

 

Service signs at entrance

To: Longboat Key Commission

At the entrances to almost every town in America there is a “Welcome To” sign with the logos of the international service clubs under the sign for visitors. Service club membership has been declining over the years as have ours.

There is room at the bottom of the Town’s Directional island entrance directional signs for either a Kiwanis and Rotary logo or printed sign to match existing. This would help visitors and part time residents to visit these club meetings. As you know, Kiwanis helps area youth in need and Rotary does good work for veterans. We both raise money for area Salvation Army during the holidays. Can you help us with this please?

Bob Gault

President of the Longboat Key Kiwanis Foundation

 

Service signs at entrance

To: Bob Gault

This is a great idea and true in many towns. I support your initiative.

Michael Garey

Longboat Key

 

Thank you for listening to residents

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

I want to thank you for listening to the residents, accurately summarizing our concerns and standing up for our position during the three commission meetings that addressed Ordinance 2020-05 even when most others on the commission did not.  I was impressed with your leadership during the June 30th meeting and was hopeful that the commission was going to preserve our height code.  I was impressed with your ability to keep our hopes alive at the September meeting.  When you stood up for residents’ concerns at the October meeting, I could hear your respect for us, the residents.  I don’t remember hearing any member of the committee being as passionate for “the will of the people” in the nine years we have been here.  I am grateful to you and have gained a great deal of respect for your leadership among your peers and for your responsiveness to residents’ concerns.  I hope that you will continue to lend your talents to the commission for a very long time.

Lynn Cook

Longboat Key

 

Thank you

To: Lynn Cook

Just a note to confirm what I said on the record in support of my failed motion in October to support the Commission consensus reached in June, bottomed on the overwhelming public inputs throughout the extended proceedings. Indeed, I also noted that I was not aware of any public support for the Commission’s 4-2 decision. I appreciate and fully endorse your comments to the Mayor.

Jack Daly

Commissioner, Longboat Key

 

Thank you

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly

I was also impressed with your understanding of our residents’ pleas.  You are a commissioner we as islanders are proud of as well.  I wrote directly to the mayor because I felt he may have been torn (as leader) between the majority of the commissioner’s lack of support for our code and his dedication to the residents.  I have seen you in action on the committee and think you are a true Longboater.  I was most disappointed in our own district’s representative as Country Club Shores comprises about a third of registered voters of District 1.  I had expected more support all around.  Please stay on the commission.  We need you AND the mayor to continue to amplify the voices of the people who actually live on the island because it’s special and who want to keep it so.

Lynn Cook

Longboat Key

 

Beach Access for residents

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

After having a conversation with Commissioner Zunz, I realized I must not have been clear about my suggestions for improving beach access for residents and improving resident’s beach experience, while decreasing, or at most, not increasing off-island use of our precious beach assets.

As long as the state beach management reimbursement funds remain an important part of current free beach parking policy at town hall, Longboat taxpayers will have to increasingly compete with off-island visitors for limited beach access parking.

As part of my suggestions for optimizing the interests of beach-loving residents and taxpayer benefits from state funding for our beaches, I am asking the town to look into modern technology to manage beach access parking. Programs such as ParkMobile Municipal offer dynamic and cost-saving ways to manage our beach parking, so that those residents who want to be able to find parking near our beaches, can do so, while maintaining a revenue-neutral funding stream from the state.

1) Convert a percentage of the current free beach access parking spaces into free Resident Permit Parking.

2) Like many other coastal communities, start charging non-residents for using our expensive beaches by using something like ParkMobile to manage paid beach parking. Both Sarasota and St. Armands use ParkMobile, which is the largest parking management cloud based municipal parking solution.

3) If desired, utilize some of the presently non-performing town center property to create a limited number of qualifying beach access parking spaces, to offset the free resident parking spaces, and thus maintain revenue-neutral support for state beach funding.

Alternatively the revenues from instituting non-resident paid beach access parking, may offset any reductions in state funds from allocating a percentage of available spaces into reserved resident parking.

The town center option could then be used to maintain a constant number of public parking spaces over time to satisfy state requirements by adding or removing signs on assigned parking spaces. These sorts of signs are used at the marina in St. Pete.

It may be possible to decrease tourist parking by charging for fewer free beach parking spaces, while converting some current free parking into limited Resident Permit Beach Access Parking. The additional town center parking would increase revenues, if that is what residents want.

I believe a majority of Longboat taxpayers, who presently pay for most of our beach management costs, might support paid beach access parking for non-residents, while ensuring adequate free reserved beach parking for residents.

There may be an optimal mix of paid beach parking and free Resident Beach Permit Parking where every island resident wins.

There may be relatively little demand for reserved resident beach parking. Fortunately using technology such as ParkMoibile, the ratio of free resident and paid non-resident parking can be dynamically adjusted with little or no cost.

In the event that no resident parking is available at a particular time, the town could allow free parking for residents parking in paid spaces. Applications such as ParkMobile enable towns to manage parking dynamics, previously unavailable before cell phones and the internet. Reserved parking allocations would be spread out across all beach access parking locations.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

City employee

To: Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I had a very disturbing interaction or actually lack of with one of our city employees.

I noticed someone on my property around 720am on West side Davis Blvd. Off Tuttle Ave.

I went outside to get my vehicle ready for work and found a city employee with I assume the utility identification team.

I politely said good morning and asked what the survey was being done for. He walks right by me as if I’m a ghost and ignores me. I call out louder “excuse me sir” at which he still ignores me. I finish getting ready and head down the street and stop in front of him and roll my window and begin again with good morning.

He says get out of my way. And I ask say, I spoke to just a moment ago and he says he didn’t see or hear me. I said what’s it all about. And he again demands that I get out of the way and that he has work to do.

This interaction was very disturbing, for one I feel like as a white man I’m being discriminated against since he was a black man. Yet I didn’t do anything to provoke him or assume that I was out to judge him or hurt him or anything. I also find it disturbing that the city employee lacks respect for its residents.

my family owns four homes in this area that we have as rentals, We run a small business as does yours, We attend church and always practice respect for all people no matter color race etc.

I find it deplorable that he couldn’t at least be respectful answer my questions and move on with his day. But it was such a horrible interaction that I’ve determined that I should say something to the authorities. You can find the pictures attached. Thank you for your time.

David Seay

Sarasota

 

City employee

To: David Seay

Thank you for your email. I have copied Marlon Brown, the Deputy City Manager on this email along with the City Manager who will look into this and be in touch.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor, City of Sarasota

 

North Osprey and 4th Street

To: Sarasota City Commission

Even on Sunday morning, the City will not allow me peace.

Norbert Jaworski

Sarasota

 

North Osprey and 4th Street

To: Norbert Jaworski

Thank you for the email but it is unclear what you are referencing, could you be more specific please? Is it truck traffic?

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor, City of Sarasota

 

North Osprey and 4th Street

To: Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

Thank you for your response. On Friday I emailed you and other City officials about the sewer project at North Osprey and 4th street which is now in the fifth month. The noise, dust, vibrations and general activity generated by heavy equipment including big rig trucks only inches from my property has made the quiet enjoyment of my property in a formerly peaceful residential neighborhood impossible.

I realize that this project is essential. However, the time that it has taken seems unreasonable. There is no end in sight. Are the people involved competent? Has the City taken any steps to monitor the delay and possibly impose sanctions?

This morning I am referring more specifically to large trucks and heavy equipment which are associated with this project, right outside my front door making the noise and causing the vibrations one could expect from such activates. On Sunday morning one would appreciate a little respite. Thank you again for at least acknowledging my concern.

Norbert Jaworski

Sarasota

 

North Osprey and 4th Street

To: Norbert Jaworski

Thank you for the response. Yes, I remember the email, my apologies for not responding earlier.

I have copied the Utilities Director, City Manager, and Staff on this email and they will reach out to you with details on the project (and copy me as well please).

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor, City of Sarasota

 

A belated note of thanks

To: Sarasota Deputy City Manager Jerry Fogle

I am remiss in getting this note to you and didn’t want another day to go by without saying “Thank You.” Every time I drive or walk by the Paul Thorpe, Jr. park, as I did once again today, it makes me smile. What a lovely addition to our downtown! It gets more beautiful by the day, as the greenery grows in, and the overall design is truly inspired. I am sure Mr. Thorpe, such an advocate of our downtown, is pleased. You and your staff do a great job with our city’s green spaces; thank you!

Fredrica R. Lindsay

Sarasota

 

A belated note of thanks

To: Ricki Lindsay

Thank you for taking the time to compliment the Paul Thorpe Park’s beauty! As we grow, these pocket parks serve as a small oasis that add a large amount of quality-of-life and joy.

Our City’s staff and community worked collaboratively for about two years (if not more) on this project, and it did turn out just beautifully and is a wonderful honor to a great man.

Much appreciation all around! Thank you again for taking the time to highlight this park and acknowledge the hard work of our dedicated Staff.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor, City of Sarasota

 

Les McCurdy Possible opening Nov 20

To: Sarasota Commissioner Hagen Brody

Hope you’re doing well. We are fine.

We are planning on opening Nov. 20, we will keep our capacity to 50% at the most

I do believe that having crowds closer together than that is irresponsible. I will follow distancing guidelines set by CDC. We will require mask while moving and will disinfect for each show and will enhance our AC System to clean the air as much as possible.

Comedy Clubs and Theatres began to open across the U.S. in September and October.

Some are doing well some are not it all has to do with the type of patrons they have in their area.

For us to be open we need to have at least 90 to 100 per show, we will cap at about 125. We really need to be able to do at least 500 patrons a weekend for it to be worth opening. We plan on opening on weekends to begin Friday thru Sunday if the demand is there we could do two shows per night. We hope the demand is great enough to add weekday shows eventually.

Here is where the city can help us. The road in front of our business is a road to nowhere; it only serves our business and the building across the street which is currently vacant. We need to be able to block off that road on any evening we are doing shows.

First reason: if we have two shows we need to be able to let patrons outside waiting to be seated be able to properly social distance.

The Second reason:  we would like to try doing a show or two in that area outdoors. I believe there will be a strong group of our patrons that will be comfortable enjoying a 90 min show outdoors that will not be comfortable at all going indoors for 90 min with that size crowd.

We can see that in restaurant seating. When I go to any restaurant that has outdoor seating and nice weather the only people sitting indoors are because they could not get an outdoor table.

I understand the city has a portable stage that is basically on a large Flatbed that is used for public events. I would request the use of that for the outdoor shows or shows

The Stage would be set up across the entrance to the road from Ringling entrance, and face towards Main Street. We would advertise it as Comedy Under the Stars. It is a nice contained area that will work well. We would like to try it on Sunday of the weekend of the 20th one show, and if it sells out add one more.

I am not sure how many we can seat in that area yet, but I am guessing about the 125-ish. We would serve food and beverages in non-breakable containers. We would have proper Security. We would still require masks while moving.

Showtimes would be about 6:45 and 8:45, everything would be wrapped up by 10:30 at latest. if we had two shows. Please let me know what I need to do to make this happen

I appreciate the city of Sarasota being so appropriately flexible with Small Businesses like mine.

I believe we will find out within a couple of months if the outdoor shows are popular and something we need to do to provide our entertainment to as many of our citizens as possible in a way that is as safe as possible. We want to be a part of helping the economy in a safe way for our community. Let me know the next step.

Les & Pam McCurdy

McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre & Humor Institute

 

Les McCurdy Possible opening Nov 20

To: Les McCurdy

I have reviewed your email and would like to schedule a meeting with you on site to fully understand your plan. FYI, last Friday I attended a West Coast Black Theater performance on their parking lot. They were well organized with 2 patrons sitting at each small round table, spaced what seemed like at least ten feet apart. Due to the size of their parking lot, combined with the sound and lighting equipment necessary the sold-out event only accommodated 66 people. Unfortunately, the 7 p.m. show had to be stopped at the 60-minute point of a 90 minute (no intermission) show due to the onset of an evening rain. They had to suspend the performance upon the first sprinkles of rain due to the sound equipment and lighting being outdoors. Nonetheless the patrons had a great time.

I have copied key staff involved with street closures and working with businesses during the pandemic recovery. Thanks for some lead time to plan and respond.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Please call me

To: Sarasota City Mayor Liz Alpert

I’ve left multiple messages for you to return my call. We spoke 2 months ago about the problem we’re having with roots from a neighbor’s trees. You were going to check on the ordinance and get back to me within a few days. I’ve already met with Mark Miller so please do not refer me to him.

Marianne Strausser

Sarasota

 

Please call me

To: Marianne Strausser

Mark Miller is on vacation, but Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown said he would get the information to me. As soon as I receive it, I will forward to you.

Liz Alpert

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Please call me

To: Sarasota City Acting Directive Services Manager Gretchen Schneider

Hope all is well. Ms. Strausser has been in communication with both Commissioner Alpert and I believe Mark related to her neighbor’s tree and the roots of the tree that have now encroached into her yard impacting her pool, etc. Her neighbor refuses to do anything with the tree and I believe Mark told her she can cut the roots that are impacting her yard. She would like to know if she were to cut the roots would she be legally justified in doing so and is there an ordinance/code that allows her to do so and protects her from any legal action her neighbor may take against her?

Marlon Brown

Deputy City Manager

Sarasota

 

Please call me

To: Sarasota Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

If she is moving forward with the root-cutting I would suggest she hire an ISA certified arborist to perform the work, after notifying the neighbor of her intentions. Given the species, and its ability to regenerate from injury if done correctly there should not be lasting damage to the trees.

Donald Ullom

Arborist, Ordinance Compliance

Development Services

City of Sarasota

 

Please call

To: Sarasota City Arborist Donald Ullom

I appreciate the response, but Ms. Strausser wanted to know if we have any written ordinance that allows her to cut the roots?

Liz Alpert

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Support for TIF funds

To: Sarasota City Commission

As TIF financing will be coming up on the Oct. 19 City Commission Agenda, I am writing to support this funding mechanism for The Bay, Rosemary major gateway streets to The Bay and for Newtown.

Connectivity to The Bay park will be essential.  Improving, greening streets (which I hope includes canopy trees for pedestrians), bike ways, sidewalks, etc. are key to community success of the park. TIF funds will enhance Boulevard of the Arts which is currently a hodge podge of landscaped blocks along with improving Central and Orange, too.  Living and walking in the Rosemary as a resident as well as walking to the Bay from the Rosemary frequently…all of these enhancements will be greatly appreciated by nearby residents and visitors alike.

And, improvements along 10th will create a more welcoming entrance to the north end of The Bay and the 10th Street boat ramp.  Living on 10th Street is another reason I am supporting these improvements. Thank you for continuing to consider the environment and the quality of life for all of your residents!

Jude Levy

Sarasota

 

Support for TIF funds

To: Jude Levy

We have received your thoughtful note.  Thanks for taking a few moments to share your thoughts. Be safe and look forward to seeing your around town and at the new Bay Park some time soon.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Splash pad

To: Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

Waterworks Park in Tampa is fully open. People loving the weather and outdoor clean air and children playing in the splash pad. Why is our beautiful park splash pad at Bayfront not open yet?

Lisa

Sarasota

 

Splash pad

To: Lisa

Thanks for the email about the Children’s Fountain. I have copied the Parks Director and City Manager on this email, but the short answer is that it is my understanding that it is in disrepair and must be fixed. It is in the budget and plan, but not until next year 2021.

Mr. Fogle: Please correct me if I am wrong or if you have additional information to provide.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

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