What to build at Longboat’s Town Center returns to the agenda

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The Town of Longboat Key has spent about $5 million purchasing, clearing, grading and coiffing about 4 acres of land east of Publix that was originally slated to be the home of a Community Arts and Cultural Center. That plan fell through last year after Ringling College pulled the plug on the project. What to build, when and how to pay for the endeavor is back on the Town Commission agenda at the Monday meeting.

Last May, the Town Commission approved a concept plan reserving areas on the site for future buildings. Now Town Manager Tom Harmer wants to start the discussion that will lead to the next phase of the project that he anticipates to be the design and construction of buildings on the site.

The Town in a 2020 citizen survey discovered that 51 percent of the respondents said they would support a privately funded and operated Arts, Cultural and Education Center. Twenty-four percent said they were unsure, and 25 percent opposed the idea.

The original idea was to build a center that would serve as a community hub for art classes, community meetings and education classes, as well as a space for small theatre productions. The plan was to raise private donations to fully fund the construction of the project. That model may still be viable and is one direction the town could undertake. What entity or if it would be the Town that manages such a center will also at some point be part of the discussion.

The meeting will be held in Town Hall on Dec. 14 at 1 p.m.

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