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A slice of history could become first building at Longboat Town Center

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

There appears to be no bustling campus of the Ringling College of Art and Design slated for the Longboat Key Town Center anytime soon. Last year, the agreement with the Town of Longboat Key with Ringling to develop a cultural arts center on the 4.3 acres of Town land that stretches between the Publix parking lot and the Tennis Center crashed to a halt when Ringling President Larry Thompson pulled the plug.

Since then, the Town has graded, cleared and sodded the site to create a field that is referred to alternately as ‘green space’ and ‘passive recreation area.’

Now, Village resident and Longboat Key Historical Society member Michael Drake wants to bring a literal piece of history to the site.

Drake wants to relocate an original Whitney Cottage Building that the Historical Society owns and is currently located on Broadway. Drake says the cottage was built around 1937 as one of the original structures of the Whitney Beach Resort that sprawled along the Gulf of Mexico. The particular building that remains is known as the ‘Linen Building.’

The Longboat Commission will discuss the matter at its Nov. 2 Regular Meeting. According to Town Manager Tom Harmer, Drake is under pressure to move the cottages off the property as soon as possible.

The cottage is about 16 feet by 25 feet and Harmer describes it as “basically four walls with no interior dividers or rooms.”

Harmer said the building looked to be in good condition. He added that the building could be added to the Town Center site in such a way to not impede future development. Also, Harmer argues bringing the building to the Town Center could serve as another draw for the site and would be consistent with the aforementioned cultural theme that the commission has tangoed with over the years.

Last month, the commission reached consensus to keep negotiating with the Historical Society and instructed the Town Attorney to prepare a draft agreement that would outline the different responsibilities that each party – the Town and the Historical Society – would be responsible to uphold.

The Town in the proposed language would be responsible for grounds maintenance, signage and any changes to the finish or exterior of the building, including paint.

The Historical Society would be responsible for moving the building, permits, relocating the building if necessary again, maintaining the building and most importantly, stocking the building with historical artifacts and information for public perusal.

If both the Town Commission and the Historical Society agree to the terms and the idea, the Town Manager could execute the agreement on behalf of the Town.

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