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Editorial Letters – Week ending November 6, 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.

Blake Fleetwood editorial

To: Editor

If this letter gets published it will be after the election. Too late to select the next president but certainly only the start of the ruinous course our country may select to its own severe detriment.

I say detriment if Blake Fleetwood’s 10/30 opinion is embraced by the majority of voters.

My congratulations to Mr. Fleetwood begin and end with his successful life history of educating himself (mentions attending graduate school), taking intelligent and timely risks in opportune real estate and stocks, and founding his own company. A true capitalist who followed the path available to all those willing to go to school, work, save and invest. Bravo!

And then, his proposals run counter to his personal experiences.

He states “exponential technological advancements” providing wealth to their inventors, founders and shareholders has “not trickled down and has resulted in gross inequality for the many”. He bragged about buying a brownstone during a real estate freefall and then selling it for $4.5 million. He then bought 10 other buildings which he rented out and then sold as condos.  At any time did he, to prevent inequality between himself and his tenants and buyers, offer to provide such buildings, apartments and condos at the price at which he acquired them or did he seek and gain massive profits? And let’s not argue that at the time inequality was not an issue because since the dawn of humans inequality has always been an issue! Those that could hunt better, farm better, fight better, innovate better and were willing to leave the safety and warmth of their cave and brave the wilds and elements survived and prospered and therefore their genes passed on to successive generations.

Furthermore, those rioting in the streets about “unfairness” and “inequality” all seem to be well fed, well clothed with name brand sneakers and mobile phones all provided by those evil wealthy who only earned their wealth by taking risks, inventing and providing what the masses want. Just like Mr. Fleetwood.

He states “more young Americans prefer socialism to capitalism”. Of course they do since they no longer study real history or economics but rather leftist claptrap. It is not socialism per se they clamor for but “freeism”. That is, they selfishly demand more and they demand it from someone else!

Mr. Fleetwood mentions government already provides many services (paid for by the 50% or so of the citizens who actually pay income taxes) such as roads, firemen, police, courts and legal system. This is correct as it is the primary duty and responsibility of our republic to provide for the security and safety of ALL its citizens uniformly. Adding free, as in little or no cost to the recipient (cost borne by those 50% again) benefits like education and healthcare to a select group of individuals is an affront to the “fairness” such misinformed people claim they seek. Why should the plumber or storekeeper or grocery store employee who elected not to attend college be forced to provide for someone else who enrolls in college, particularly in such inane majors as gender studies, art history or music theory. Now if you have a real passion for these subjects, feel free to read and study them on your own dime. One person’s health, consuming, exercise and not seeking work to access health insurance is not the responsibility of another. We already have the safety net of Medicaid, ACA, Medicare and free hospital emergency care if you do not have funds.

By the way, all those programs that are freebies (unlike Medicare and Social Security which people who work contribute to) are main reasons we are in the fiscal hole we are. The US is no longer the richest country in the world. Based on our national debt and obligations we are the most broke country.

As to FDR, he and all Americans faced a monumental crisis in the Great Depression. Not the silly, media manufactured “crisis of inequality” they love to fire up the masses about. It is not a crisis of inequality, but rather a crisis of lack of responsibility and poor life choices resulting in envy, resentment and jealousy.

Furthermore, FDR used tax payer monies to create JOBS which means people worked and earned not only income, but self-respect and purpose.

Finally, Mr. Fleetwood writes capitalism “will not survive if it does not deliver the goods to the majority of people”. Here we agree on the statement but disagree on the definition of “goods”. My definition of goods, and services, is indeed the basic foundation of capitalism. Those who provide goods, ie products, to people that are in demand and at a competitive price, are those who succeed. Yes, they risk, invest and work to provide those goods in self-interest to those who buy, also in self-interest. This basic fair exchange is well documented by 18TH century economist Adam Smith.

I believe Mr. Fleetwood’s definition of goods is “free stuff”. And what is free and unearned is never, ever valued.

Creating more and more so called rights which are not in the Constitution just creates more so called entitlements whose costs explode exponentially. One person’s granted, not inalienable, rights (free healthcare and college education) only really creates another person’s obligation, be it taxpayer and/or health care worker. In which case the self-serving mob and their “democratic socialist” political enforcers obliges a new inequality by demanding, under the threat of violence and arrest, those taxpayers, doctors, nurses and in a real irony, college teachers, into a submission of providing their earned funds and skills for no or little compensation after, of course, taking their vow of poverty.

Joseph Iannello

Longboat Key

 

Swan Release

To: Longboat Key Commission

Yesterday, two swans from Illinois made their longest voyage from Chicago to Tampa and then to Longboat.  With some acclimation time, they should be primed for their release into the environs of the Harbourside Golf Course.  If able, please join us for the release at 1:30pm Friday across from CVS on Bay Isles Parkway.  Parking is best across the road in the CVS/Publix parking lot.

You will have an opportunity to see and touch these fine birds prior to release…and take photos.  Lou Newman, who has photographed the swans since 2007, will be there.

Once in the water, they “should” swim around close-by.  But swans have a mind of their own, so I’m hoping they don’t pull any surprises. See the attached photo.

David E. Novak

Longboat Key

 

Swan Release

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

David Novak, our self-appointed and much beloved swan whisperer, is introducing a new pair to the Bay Isles area this Friday at 1:30, as described in the attached memo.  He thought you both might be interested in attending as, from time to time, the Town is called upon to protect these beauties from unwanted attentions.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Election results

To: Longboat Key Commission

Election statistics from the Supervisor of Elections for Longboat Key.  86% turnout, the majority by mail.  Election day turnout in Sarasota County was 12.4% and in Manatee County 21.4%.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Resident Only parking program

To: Longboat Key Commission

We discussed this ordinance (Resident Only Parking Program) briefly at the Retreat yesterday so I wanted to provide a copy of edits that Allen displayed on the screen during 1st Reading.  In addition, the staff has incorporated the additional direction from the Commission at the 11/2 meeting and some other minor cleanup edits.   The ordinance language and updated report will be finalized as part of the December 7th agenda packet for the final hearing on this item.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Village ROP Ordinance Updates Follow-up from 11/2 Town Commission 1st Reading

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Attached is an updated draft of the Village Resident Only Parking ordinance. The draft depicts the highlighted changes made to the ordinance that were presented to the Commission at their 11/2 meeting & 1st Reading of the ordinance.

The changes include:

Incorporation of editorial feedback received from some of the commissioners prior to the meeting, which staff agreed were clarifying improvements.

Incorporation of Commission direction provided at the 11/2 meeting to:

Add to the definition of “Resident” (in Subsection (B)) that what constitutes a resident is defined further in the ordinance, in Subsection (D).

Add reference to the fact that off-street parking, such as the parking provided for the Town dock/pier, is not affected by the ordinance. A note has been added in Subsection (C), “Area Designated” to provide this explanation.

An organizational change to Subsection (D), incorporating editorial feedback & breaking up the Parking Permit application requirements for the two types of permits (Resident & Guest). The Guest Parking permit application requirements were able to be simplified due to the Commission’s support for the concept of requiring the purchase of a Resident Parking Permit prior to purchasing a Guest Parking Permit.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Parking near boat ramp

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Ed Zunz

I sympathize with the residents of Longbeach Village about the invasion of the village by restaurant patrons, but as a long-time kayaker of the bay I have a concern. I live in Longbeach Condo and launch my kayak at the boat ramp on Lindley St. or at the pier at the end of Broadway. There are a few parking spaces reserved for the boat ramp but they are often all taken…sometimes by vehicles whose drivers are not using the pier there or the boat ramp. There are no spaces reserved for those using the pier at the end of Broadway.

I recommend the commissioners designate adequate spaces at both these recreational sites that are used by many who are not Longbeach Village residents. I think at least other residents of the Town of Longboat should have convenient vehicular access to these two spots. How to limit the parking spaces to pier and boat ramp users may require some creative thinking but I am confident this can be solved. Thanks for your attention.

Rob Hongen

Longboat Key

 

Underground fiber network are unnecessary expenditures

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

I want the taxpayers of our community to be aware of what I believe are enormous and unnecessary expenditures of taxpayer money for a town underground fiber network that goes nowhere and does nothing, as far as I am able to understand.

Here are figures from the latest undergrounding status presented to the commission by the town staff on October 19, 2020.

Cost of paying Frontier and Comcast to bury certain pre-existing cable and phone lines. I do not recall if this $2,830,497.00 million dollar cost was contemplated and budgeted in the two undergrounding referendums. How is it that taxpayers must pay for-profit companies to bury their cables only to charge us increasingly exorbitant monthly rates?

There are two types of service on Longboat Key provided by Frontier. First is the FIOS underground fiber cable service that was originally buried throughout the island by Verizon, and later sold to Frontier. As far as I know, all of the Verizon fiber network was buried underground. Therefore, Frontier’s FIOS is already buried. I do not understand why we are paying to bury it again. If that is part of the $2.8 million budgeted for Comcast and Frontier.

Then there is the Frontier POTS copper wire phone service. This too was acquired from Verizon. Some of this ancient copper wire infrastructure does ride on FPL poles. However, I wonder how many POTS customers remain, after two decades of cable based VOIP phone service being offered by both Comcast and Frontier. Copper wire POTS service is quickly being collapsed across a America, and being replaced by VOIP and cell phone services. I wonder how many copper wire home phone customers remain on Longboat, and would they be willing to change to very reliable VOIP service that would save taxpayers a lot of money.

Comcast is another matter. It may be that the majority of the $2.8 million budgeted for the two companies is being used by Comcast. Comcast cable is an “in the air” network installed on FLP poles in many of the older neighborhoods on Longboat. Much of the Comcast coax cable network is buried in developments such as the Harborside and Islandside communities and many condominiums up and down the island.

On top of the $2.8 million for subsidizing very wealthy corporations to move off of existing poles to underground facilities, the town is spending another $5.4 million for the town underground fiber network. Originally the town introduced a separate town fiber network, in addition to Comcast and Frontier networks as a necessary adjunct to already more than adequate internet and phone services. It will fix cell phone reception, the town said. Residents will get high speed gigabit fiber-to-the-home internet service, the town said. But there were no actual agreements with any phone, cell or internet providers. Three years later there still are no interested cell carriers, no companies interested in bring yet a third internet connection to our homes, yet we are spending large amounts on “smart pole ready” street light posts that are taller than what the great majority of neighborhood residents want, because some consultant says the 5G carriers will flock to the island just because we have too tall light poles. I believe that consultant is no longer active, yet the town goes ahead with a $5,4 million fiber system that will be used to connect town hall with the two fire stations, public utilities and the police station.

Needless to say, both Comcast and Frontier have improved their technology and began offering gigabit data service over a year ago at a cost of less than $150 per drop per month. Additionally the town would not have to service and maintain its own fiber network and would not need complicated contracts with what are called Tier-3 internet providers, that connect small networks with the greater global internet.

The town is three years into creating a $5.4 million underground island wide fiber network that does nothing but hook up five town buildings, that are already hooked up via fiber by a provider such as AT&T or Frontier or Comcast. I understand that there are NO other plans for using the town fiber network at this time, no ongoing talks, no letters of intent and no pending contracts.

I have tried to be accurate and am willing to discuss any presented material that is validly fact-checked and found to be inaccurate and make public corrections. I pulled the numbers from a town presentation to the commission on October 19th. I hope I read the tables correctly.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Re: Underground fiber network are unnecessary expenditures

To: Gene Jaleski

I am happy to try to answer the questions I can and refer others to the experts.   I know the Commission and staff are intent on producing the best undergrounding project possible on time and within budget.  I know the community favors this and I hope you do too.  We are all on the same side.

Without revisiting the allocation of the project budget among its various components, it was necessary to relocate many Comcast and Frontier lines from overhead to underground, just as it was necessary to bury all FPL lines.  All three companies are for-profit and provide services that are necessary or highly desirable to the community at this point in time.  Negotiations of how the costs of undergrounding would be shared between the Town and these companies were intense, took place over more than a year and have provided results that appear to be well within our original budget.

As for the Town’s fiber, it was decided early on that this project should not only aim to beautify the Town and make its infrastructure safer from storms, but to use the necessary islandwide “trenching”  to open the door to new technologies by laying conduit that would initially serve municipal purposes and eventually allow for improved communications, information and entertainment opportunities throughout Longboat Key.  These will include improved cell phone service and may include wireless or FTTH products that could compete on quality and price with Comcast and Frontier.

The most efficient use of our taxpayers’ money is to accomplish all these initial steps at the same time, with the goal of rolling out the best additional services available when they and we are ready.

I’m sure Tom Harmer and the Public Works staff can provide you with more detailed information if you wish.

Ken Schneier

Mayor, Longboat Key

 

US 41 and Gulfstream detour plan

To: Sarasota Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

The FDOT has the US 41/Gulfstream Roundabout and Gap (Fruitville Road to Gulfstream Avenue) Stormwater Improvement project out for Bid.  Bids are due the first week in December with a projected start date of February 1, 2021.  The project includes the attached detour plan and to better describe that plan, I have added the below narrative:

US 41/Gulfstream Roundabout and Gap Stormwater Project Narrative

The FDOT Temporary Traffic Control Plan (TTCP) is to build temporary diversions (bypass roads – purple areas on exhibit) through a portion of existing parking along Bayfront Park Drive and a portion east of US 41 at Gulfstream Avenue to handle traffic while the roundabout is under construction.  This should reduce delays and shorten the overall construction time of the project.  Attached, please find the various phases of the TTCP.

Pre-Phase – (approximately 92 construction days)

In the Pre Phase (approx. 92 construction days), traffic will flow normally with some minor work as noted in the hatched red areas on the exhibit. This work includes some short duration lane closures for placing temporary pavement, temporary signals and minor drainage. This will also include the closure of Gulfstream Avenue on the east of US 41 (one-way into the city). The main intent of this phase is to construct the temporary diversions (bypass roads) for use in phases IA, IB and IIA. Overall this phase has very little impact to the existing traffic pattern.

Phase IA – (approximately 107 construction days)

In Phase IA (approx. 107 construction days) traffic moves to the temporary diversions (bypass roads). This is expected to occur in mid-April (after Easter). Please note that traffic on and off the Keys can access Northbound and Southbound US 41, however, no traffic on US 41 will be able to proceed Northbound or Southbound (no through traffic will be allowed). All US 41 Northbound and Southbound through traffic will be directed to use US 301. Traffic can enter downtown at Main Street and Palm Avenue with a right in only, access to US 41 from Main St is closed  during this Phase and remains closed until Phase IIB. 1st Street and 2nd Street will be right in and right out as in the existing condition.  Ritz Carlton Drive is also a right in and right out as in the existing condition except for short term closures for construction within the intersection itself. Gulfstream Avenue access into downtown will be reopen during this phase and remain open through the remainder of construction. West bound access to Golden Gate Point from the Southbound US 41 will require a detour via a U-turn at Bird Key Dr.  Traffic coming from the Northbound US 41 will be able to turn onto Golden Gate Point using the existing left turn lane.

Phase IB (approximately 57 construction days)

In Phase IB (approx. 57 construction days) Southbound US 41 traffic to the islands moves to the west side of US 41. All other traffic patterns remain the same.

Phase IIA (approximately 91 construction days)

In phase IIA (approx. 91 construction days) Northbound US 41 traffic from the Keys transitions to the newly constructed roundabout. Access to and from downtown at Palm Avenue, 1st Street and 2nd Street is closed. These closures will help shorten the construction time during this Phase. Each access may reopen as construction proceeds through the corridor, thus full closures at Palm Avenue, 1st Street and 2nd Street may not require the full Phase IIA construction time before reopening. All other traffic patterns remain the same.

Phase IIB (approximately 103 construction days)

In Phase IIB (approx. 103 construction days) the roundabout is fully functional and traffic shifts to new permanent configuration except along the south side of Gulfstream Ave. and for median work on US 41. This work will include some short duration lane closures. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Alex DavisShaw

City Engineer, Public Works

City of Sarasota

 

Mayors’ Feed the Hungry raises money from our Music That Moves You event

To: Longboat Key Town Clerk Trish Shinkle

I am happy to announce that our Music That Moves You Fund raiser brought in $21,615.  Thank you for all your help in promoting this project.

We will use the funds collected to purchase $10 food gift cards from Publix that we give away free through our participating member’s food pantries throughout Manatee and Sarasota Counties.

Food gift cards let the recipient purchase items of their own choosing – giving them some measure of dignity and choice. This is especially helpful now with so many people out of work

Thanks again for your support!

Scott Biehler

Executive Director, Mayor’s Feed the Hungry

 

Village Parking Inventory

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thanks Tom. There’s been a reduction of approximately 102 parking spaces in the past couple of years, with specific reductions as follows:

Reduction of approximately 5 spaces on Broadway St.  (due to increased intersection setbacks).

Reduction of approximately 36 spaces on Russell St. (due to elimination of parking on south side of the street).

Reduction of approximately 25 spaces on Linley Street (due to elimination of parking on both sides of the street).

Reduction of approximately 17 spaces on Lois Ave (due to elimination of parking on both sides of the street).

Reduction of approximately 19 spaces on Poinsettia Ave (due to elimination of parking on both sides of the street).

Allen Parsons

Planning and Zoning Director

Longboat Key

 

Village Parking Inventory

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Can you have your staff determine how many parking spots we have already converted to no parking in last five years?

Mike Haycock

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Interesting the Opera chose a parking lot in instead of the Town Center Green

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer, Mayor Ken Schneier

For those of you on Longboat Key in November the Sarasota Opera has come up with a unique program they call  OperaMobile. On Monday, November 9, sometime between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (travel time is unpredictable) the Sarasota Opera will bring three singers and a pianist to perform a 20-minute concert from a trailer in the parking lot of the Centre Shops of Longboat Key. This short performance of joyful music is sure to lift your spirits!  Social distancing will be in effect and masks must be worn. Please join them in their efforts to bring you these delightful musical moments! This notice came from the Longboat Key Education Center.

Tom Freiwald

Longboat Key

 

Interesting the Opera chose a parking lot in instead of the Town Center Green

To: Tom Friewald

Next year the Town Center will be all the rage.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Village parking

To: Longboat Key Commission

I received a request from a Commissioner for the inventory of parking spaces in the Village. See info below from Allen. He will be able to answer any questions about the numbers at the meeting on Monday.

Street Parking in the Village

Total # of spots in Village (Overall)- 415

# of current spots on Broadway- 39

# of spots adjacent to the commercial properties (MarVista and Shore) 21 (9 on Lois; 12 on Broadway)

# of spots remaining on Broadway after removing spots abutting the commercial properties- 27

# of spots between Palm and Longboat Dr. on Broadway-10

# of spots at boat ramp-4-5 (spaces unmarked) (Note: Signs indicate “Boat Ramp & Town Pier Parking only”).

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Longboat Key Historical Society Cottage

To: Longboat Key Commission

The Town staff walked the Town Center site with Michael Drake of the Longboat Key Historical Society (LBKHS) on Friday.  See his note below regarding the proposed move to the Town Center property.

The LBKHS has indicated their preference for a site on the Town Center property.

Michael has indicated that they will be providing a letter from their bank indicating their financial standing.

He has also advised that his board has authorized him to execute the proposed lease with the Town.

Michael is aware that the Town Commission will be reviewing the proposed lease and agreement to move the cottage to a location within the Town Center at Monday’s Regular Commission Meeting.  He said he will be available at the meeting to answer any questions and to follow-up as necessary.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Longboat Key Historical Society Cottage

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

It was a nice walk through of the future “Town Center” and the Longboat Key Historical Society (LBKHS) is very excited to be part of the new town center. After our initial visit of the town center it is the LBKHS collective decision to have the historic cottage placed at the site that we visited on Friday afternoon. For clarification it would be the site that has the back of the cottage facing the Chase bank building and very close to the already existing power supply on the site and would be the south eastern corner of the site.

The LBKHS board of directors is also in agreement to have me sign the agreement that was forwarded by you last week regarding the responsibilities of both the town and the LBKHS.

I have asked our bank branch manager to forward a letter of financial standing for the LBKHS. I can tell you that we are in good standings with our current lease agreement that is $2,500.00 per month and have been paying that monthly payment since August of 2018. For a total of $70,000.00 to date. Also, we anticipate the cottage bidding will bring over $40,000.00 to our bank account. Please let me know if there is anything else you need.

Michael D. Drake

President

Longboat Key Historical Society

 

Town Center- Historical Society

To: Longboat Key Commission

Commissioners,  FYI- feedback from Hoyt Architects on the proposed Historical Cottage move.  Gary Hoyt developed the concept plan for the Town Center and we asked for his feedback on the location of the cottage in the Town Center.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Town Center- Historical Society

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thank you for sharing the images and site option plan prepared by staff regarding the possible relocation of the Historical Society building to the Town Center. After reviewing the package, we agree with the site area selected by staff shown on Exhibit “A” for reasons similar to yours. They include:

• Good site visibility

• Proximity to parking

• Good access to services

• Phases 1-9 of the Town Center plan should be able proceed without undo interruption

It will an interesting entry feature for the Town Center Park. I would also like to add that we find this small vernacular building to be a good example of the simple, but well-designed cottage structures that were part of Longboat Key’s history.

Gary B. Hoyt

President / CEO Hoyt Architects

Sarasota

 

Dogs on the loose

To: Longboat Key Commission

Good morning! I am writing to you today because I feel like I have truly run out of options. My apologies if this gets long, I just want to provide you with as many details as possible. Please do not interpret this as any negativity towards the LBK police as I am a strong supporter of law enforcement.

I have lived on Jungle Queen Way on Longboat for 7+ years. I am a dog lover, have owned multiple dogs throughout my life and currently have a highly trained, incredibly well behaved 12-year-old lab who’s my best buddy. The first 3 years that I was here, there were little to no problems with dogs. Four years ago, my neighbor across the street got a dog and decided that the dog was free to roam. By “free to roam” I mean that she opens the door, lets the dog out, she goes back inside, and the dog can go wherever it wants. Because she does not have a fence and the dog has absolutely zero training, the dog can, and does, go wherever it wants, roaming through everybody’s yards up and down the street and obviously pooping wherever it wants. This happens literally every day at all hours of the day. There have been countless times that I have been awoken at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. to this dog barking right outside my bedroom window in my backyard. Her and her daughters refuse to leash the dog when they’re walking it, hence it’s running through everybody’s front and back yard while they walk down the street chatting on their phones. You can only imagine the amount of dog poop that everybody, including myself, has to pick up from our yards that is not from our own dogs. I have contacted the Longboat Key police department about this multiple times. I’ve spoken to many Longboat Key police officers and they’ve all agreed with me and expressed their disgust with the situation. However, unfortunately, nothing has ever been done about it. Four years later, that dog is still terrorizing the neighborhood.

There are a lot of dogs on this street. Seventeen to the best of my knowledge. Plus, the occasional renter that brings their dog with. Of those 17 dogs, there are only two of us who keep our dogs on a leash and/or behind a fence. There were 18 up until a few months ago when one of the neighbor’s dogs was hit by a truck on Gulf of Mexico Drive. In the few months that this neighbor had this dog, I know of at least 6 times that this dog “escaped”. It was inevitable that something bad was going to happen.

Over time, because neighbors have seen some dogs off leash, they’ve all joined in. I can honestly tell you that I have seen every one of those 15 dogs running around off leash on multiple occasions. This isn’t a matter of these dogs sneaking out of a fenced backyard or darting out the door, this is the owner purposely allowing these dogs to run around like the street is an off-leash dog park. Just a few weeks ago, four of the dogs all got into a fight in the middle of the street. Which of course was followed by neighbors screaming at each other, calling each other F***ing B**ches, etc. Real classy!

Some more details: At the end of the street is a woman who has a one-year-old, 145 lb. Doberman that she walks up and down the street without a leash every single morning. Not surprisingly, she has zero control over this dog. Even if the dog was on a leash, at 145 lbs., if the dog pulled to go after another dog, she’d never be able to hold onto that leash. My dog doesn’t stand a chance against a dog that size if it comes after him. I have nothing against large dogs or certain breeds. I believe every dog can be a good dog and all responsibility lies with the owner. But it truly is the responsibility of the owner to train and control their dog, and be a good dog owner. A couple of weeks ago, her husband had to drop the leash as the dog charged after a raccoon. Across the street from her is a gentleman with two Rottweiler mixes who allows the dogs to run up and down the street every morning and usually again after work. Then there’s two smaller dogs that are always running around, the dog that roams, a lab that gets walked without a leash and roams quite a bit, two smaller breed dogs that are constantly darting out of the house every time we walk past, a Labradoodle that is occasionally off leash, a pit mix and a yorkie that are always off leash and twice have come after my dog, two labs that are constantly running all over the place, a pit mix that got into a fight with the other labs and the lab/pit mix a few weeks ago, etc., etc., etc… Hopefully you can see where my aggravation stems from. These are not rare instances. This is every single day!

It’s gotten to a point over the last few years that I am very concerned just taking my dog for a walk because almost every time we do, he has a run-in with another dog. Lately I’ve been putting him in the car, parking at the cardiologist office and walking Gulf of Mexico Drive just so we can avoid walking on our street. That’s ridiculous that I have to do this. Up until a few years ago, my dog was great with other dogs. Unfortunately, because he’s had so many run-ins with these dogs, he’s now terrified of other dogs. I’ve had to start carrying pepper gel spray with me simply out of concern for my dog’s safety. At 12 years old, one bad twist or turn trying to get away from these dogs, could cause a really bad injury and possibly be a death sentence for my dog. Even just taking my dog out in my own yard to do his business a few times a day is a little nerve wracking because, more times than not, there’s somebody else’s dog running through my yard and the owner is nowhere to be seen. I shouldn’t have to carry pepper gel when I’m taking my dog out on a leash in my own yard.

A few weeks ago I was grilling some steaks for dinner around 6 p.m. I went outside to check on them and in my driveway was a dog I had never seen before with a leash hanging off of his collar. My initial instinct was “Hey sweet boy, where did you come from?” Which was responded to with a growl and a bunch of barking. I went inside, called the non-emergency number that I have for the Longboat Key police. It of course was re-routed to Manatee 911. She informed me that a stray dog is not a police matter but an animal control matter. Thus began the debacle of which county I live in. I assured her that I was 110% certain that I live in Manatee. She told me no, Sarasota, and patched me through to Sarasota Animal Control. They told me that I lived in Manatee, which I agreed with and patched me back to 911. She finally patched me through to Manatee Animal Control. I explained the situation. At this point, the dog was now in my backyard barking and jumping on my lanai screen trying to get to my dog. They said that they’d send somebody out. A quick Google Maps search shows that it’s at least a 47-minute drive (without traffic) from Manatee Animal Control in Palmetto, to my street on Longboat. Is this dog seriously going to be roaming around in my backyard 45 minutes later when animal control arrives? This phone call took 18 minutes. Nine minutes later, I received a phone call from the 911 dispatcher telling me that animal control was not going to come out that evening and that they’d be there in the morning. Seriously, what is the point? I found out the next day that this dog does indeed live on our street with someone who just moved into a rental. Why was this lady not out looking for her dog? We live on a short, dead end street surrounded by water. It would have been easy for her to go find her dog. It had a leash on. She most likely knew it was missing. Not surprisingly, this was the lab/pit mix that a few days later got into the fight with the other dogs in the middle of the street.

The incredibly high level of how rude my neighbors are being and their complete lack of caring about the other people that live on this street is disturbing. Especially in this time when so many people are preaching “Think About Others”. Apparently, on my street, that only applies to wearing a mask. There are obviously plenty of neighbors that are not dog owners who are not thrilled about this issue either. A quick walk up and down our street is disgusting because of the amount of piles of dog poop that are never picked up.

According to Manatee County Animal Ordinance 12-10: (taken directly from Manatee County Animal Services Web Page)

• Dogs are not allowed to run at large.

• Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet when the dog is off the property of the owner.

• All dogs must be under the direct control of the owner while on the property of the owner.

• The ordinance requires pet owners to remove feces deposited by their animal from any public property or private property of another.

I’m dealing with violations of all four of these but don’t seem to have any way of having them enforced.

What am I supposed to do? I honestly don’t feel like I’m overreacting to the situation. It’s simply gotten to a point where I don’t feel that it’s safe for my dog to be here. These problems are all being caused by rude, inconsiderate residents. The fact that we have ordinances restricting this type of behavior, but is unenforcable, makes it all the more aggravating. If I lived on a rural piece of property in Myakka, I could understand having to deal with dogs roaming. It’s one of the reasons why I chose to live on Longboat, so I wouldn’t have to deal with things like that. I have lived and travelled all over the world and have never once dealt with this level of disrespect from neighbors.

I’m not too sure exactly what the solution to this is. However, I have some ideas:

• Some police presence on our street would be appreciated. A patrol up and down the street a few times a day might be noticed by these neighbors. I’d be more than happy to tell you what times of the day these instances are most likely to occur.

• Possibly a letter to all the residents of the street informing them of the complaints and also informing them of the Animal Ordinance. Possibly a threat of a fine. I can easily supply you with the names and addresses of the neighbors who participate in the dog issues.

• Maybe some signage at the top of the street stating that this street is not an off-leash dog park.

• I personally would really like a phone number that I can call that would dispatch an officer to our street quickly versus dealing with the debacle that 911 has always been. In this manner, I could call when this actually is happening and the officers could observe what I’ve mentioned. Each time I’ve called 911 about this, it’s multiple minutes on the phone explaining the situation and then an officer arriving 20 minutes later. Obviously, the dogs aren’t running around 25-30 minutes after I originally placed the call.

I want to stress one last time that this is in no way a complaint about our police officers. In all the conversations I’ve had with them over the years, they’ve all been incredibly kind, respectable people! I try to wave, chat and say good morning to them every chance I get.

Please advise as to what can be done with this situation. This has just gotten completely out of hand. Your help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in Advance!

Matt Ryan

Longboat Key

 

Dogs on the loose

To: Matt Ryan

I just reviewed your concerns and suggested responses. I appreciate your detailed descriptions of the situations and your many efforts to respond and share your concerns. By this note, I am asking our Town Manager to address the situation with a plan as soon as possible.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Dogs on the loose

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly

Commissioner Daly, thanks for forwarding Matt’s email. I have reached out to the Police Chief. She will follow up with Matt directly and coordinate with Manatee County as necessary to help address the concerns.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Dogs on the loose

To: Matt Ryan

As an owner of two Yorkies, I sympathize with your problem and apologize for your lack of relief.  While I am forwarding your email to Town Manager Tom Harmer and (new) Police Chief Kelli Smith for action, I would note that the activities you describe violate a number of the provisions of Chapter 91 of the Longboat Key Town Code and are subject to fines and impoundment and enforceable by Town police officers.  Please let us know if conditions improve.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Dogs on the loose

To: Town Staff and Town Commission

Thank you all for your quick responses and interest in getting this matter resolved. I did hear from Chief Smith and she said that she will reach out to me tomorrow to discuss. Hopefully we can find a quick solution so that we can all go back to enjoying our neighborhood.

Thanks again!

Matt Ryan

Longboat Key

 

Village Parking Permit

To: Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Director Allen Parsons

I had an opportunity to review the latest draft of the village parking permit ordinance this week and I am very supportive of moving this version forward for passage by the Town Commission.  I will be monitoring the Commission meeting on November 2, 2020.  I would appreciate it if the Town Clerk could circulate this email to the Mayor and members of the Commission and make it part of the record.

While I would have drafted certain parts slightly differently and there are always more refinements that could be made, I am strongly of the view that it is now time to move it forward and put the system into practice and see how it works.  If there is further fine tuning that proves to be required after sufficient experience, we can all turn our minds to what those future refinements should be, with the benefit of actual experience.  I believe that this version of the ordinance will result in a significant improvement to the quality of life in the village in the coming years.

Thank you very much for all of the work and effort that you have personally put into this project.  Thank you also for your outreach to all interests in the village to ensure that all interests had plenty of opportunities to provide input.  It is obvious to me that you and other Town staff approached this task with open minds and with the intent of advancing the public interest relating to this issue. I believe that the Town Commission has also seen the value and importance of this ordinance in their comments and decisions to date and I am optimistic that it will continue to receive strong support from the Commissioners and that it will be in passed and be effect on schedule.

We will certainly be relieved and very pleased to see the parking problem on the village streets addressed and resolved in this way.  The enjoyment of our home at 750 Russell Street has been severely impacted by the current situation, particularly in the past couple of winters.

Thank you and thanks to all who have helped with bringing this ordinance to this point.

I am also copying Pete and Carla Rowan, with our thanks to them also for all of their efforts relating to this issue.

Stephen Garrod and Patricia MacDonald

Longboat Key

 

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Mayor, thanks for the email and questions before the meeting. If the Commission would like to move November workshop out a week that should be an easy change. Susan has indicated that previous Commission input was to schedule the Regular and Workshop meetings the first two weeks of November and December. We are ok either way

I will talk with Maggie and Sue tomorrow morning on the Manatee County Interlocal Agreement. They are using TDT funding for the $2.69 million and I have been told that same language is in our TDT Interlocal with Manatee County. Will follow up with you in the morning.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Discussion needed on consent agenda

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer, Town Attorney Maggie Mooney

There are two items on the Consent Agenda that might merit discussion, unless you feel they are clear and believe there’s a consensus: 1. On D, the TC schedule for 2021, I wonder if the November Workshop couldn’t be on Nov. 15 instead of the 8th, since Thanksgiving is not until the week of the 22d?  I think consecutive weeks is undesirable unless it really impinges on the holiday.  2.  On E, the interlocal agreement for the beach funds, there are several references to “matching” funds by Longboat Key. To me, this would ordinarily mean some form of dollar for dollar contribution for a project, whereas I understand in this case we just need to submit invoices for work completed and ensure that the project is completed.

If you think these issues are clear, should be resolved as drafted and you could briefly address them before we vote on the Consent Agenda, that’s fine with me.  If you think they merit some more discussion, I’m happy to remove them.

Ken Schneier

Mayor

Longboat Key

 

AA+ rating

To: Longboat Key Commission

Commissioners, as part of the planned borrowing associated with the Beach Management Plan the staff participated in a rating review with S&P Global Ratings earlier this month. We are pleased to announce that the Town has been assigned a rating of AA+.  This is the same rating that the Town received previously for the borrowing associated with the Undergrounding Projects and the Fire Station Projects.

There are 10 investment grade rating levels.  AA+ rating is the second highest grade rating offered.  It was very good news to achieve this rating in light of some of the overall economic uncertainty and the COVID 19 impacts that have been felt across the country.  This high level of rating positions the Town for a very competitive rate as we go to the market for these funds.

I would like to recognize the Commission for your conservative approach to Town governance.  In the rating review, S&P provided positive feedback on our reserve policies and the Town’s historical effort to build those reserves and exceed the minimum established polices.  They also saw the Economic Uncertainty Reserve as a very positive set aside.

The rating agency called out the Town’s “Strong management, with good financial policies and practices…” I would like to especially thank Sue Smith and the Finance Team for continuing to position the Town for fiscal sustainability and to the Departments for their approach to prudent management of the various Town services.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Red lights for crosswalks

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Sherry Dominick

Commissioner Dominick, thanks for the email. It looks like link to the article is a news story regarding the bill that was presented last Spring to the State Legislature and was not approved. The story is dated January of 2020 which would have been before the 2020 Legislative Session. That bill was sponsored by Representative Fine from Brevard County based on the 2019 death of the 12-year-old in Satellite Beach. Interestingly, I was told by the City of Satellite Beach that they did not support the legislation and instead lobbied for additional signage and a reduced speed limit. The State did reduce their speed to 35 and added some signage features at their crossings.

The 2021 session starts on March 2nd 2021. There will be a lot of bill activity leading up to the session.  A lot of the legislative efforts will start to pick up after the election next week.  We do have an item on the agenda Monday for the Commission to set the Commission Priorities for the upcoming 2021 Legislative Session. So, good timing to discuss Commission Priorities for the State Legislature and our lobbying efforts.    

Just FYI, Isaac and I did talk with the FDOT District Secretary yesterday about the signage and flashing lights at the crossings and he has assigned a member of his staff to look at the crossings with Town staff and report back on any opportunities that they would support. I also had a follow-up discussion with the City Manager in Satellite Beach this week. She provided some information regarding the additional signage that FDOT added to their crossings.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Crosswalk danger

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Tom, Cindy Fischer called this article to my attention.  Apparently the ‘bill is back’.  https://www.winknews.com/2020/01/16/florida-lawmaker-proposes-red-lights-at-crosswalks-force-drivers-to-stop/

What can we do as a Town in an organized fashion to advocate the for the passage of the bill, in addition to working separately to try and get changes in signage, etc.?

Sherry Dominick

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Financial report

To: Longboat Key Commissioners

Attached is the September 2020 Financial Report.  This quarterly report was reviewed this morning with the Investment Advisory/Finance Committee.  The report reflects revenues and expenses through September, but is before final closeout of the year so there will be some adjustments made as the finance staff goes through the closeout process and our independent auditor completes their review.

The report includes an update on COVID 19 projections going back to mid-year.  As you recall, the staff was very careful in projecting out potential revenue impacts related to the pandemic.   The report includes a breakdown by source, but overall the actual revenues have come in higher than the mid-year projections.

Overall there are no surprises as we look at year end status of revenues and expenditures.  We anticipate a positive impact to the General Fund consistent with our discussion in September as the FY21 budget was being adopted. We are currently projecting FY20 revenues to exceed expenditures in the General Fund by approximately $445,000, which is higher than originally thought.

I also wanted to call out the Tennis Fund. Even though the operations were shut down for several months, the staff did a good job managing expenses during the shutdown and revenues have recovered well, so it appears that the fund will be in the black at year end.  Congrats to Kay and her Team.  The other area that we were closely monitoring was the Building Fund.  It has recovered quickly, and revenues are tracking to exceed budgeted projections. Feel free to contact Sue or I if you have any questions regarding the report.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

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