+ Repaving to take residents down memory lane
Haven’t we been down this (repaved) road before?
For the past two summers, Longboaters have experienced lane closures, heavy traffic and an overall disruption of the paradise that surrounds them, because of a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) repavement project. Now, FDOT officials have learned that its paving contractor put down layers of asphalt that are too thin for long-term road use.
Starting April 1, the contractor will be back on Gulf of Mexico Drive with double the number of trucks to replace the existing inferior asphalt. Town Manager Bruce St. Denis will allow the contractor to work during the day and night to complete the project by August. Bicycle lanes along GMD will be torn up first and repaved last.
New state road signs will also be installed every 10 feet in the right of way to alert motorists and bicyclists of the safety issues and construction schedule.
+ Heat is on for Longboat volunteer firefighters
The Longboat Key Volunteer Fire Rescue Department is coming back to town. The volunteer-only department was created in the 1950s and disbanded in favor of a professional department decades ago, but Town Manager Bruce St. Denis said the resurrected volunteer department is an experiment to see if the volunteers could handle calls while the firefighters hold a contract negotiation session with the town in May.
Any Longboat Key resident, regardless of age, who can walk, lift a 5-pound weight in each hand and still has a valid driver’s license is urged to attend tryouts during the week of April 1, at the north-end fire station. Residents must also bring a “File of Life” magnet listing the types of medications they are on and their latest EKG test results.
Tryouts will include scaling a 5-foot fence and holding a fully-pressurized fire hose. The test, in which potential firefighters are required to climb to the top of the fire-truck ladder at Casa Del Mar to measure the latest height of the world-famous cotton plant, has been suspended until further notice. (See Our Town, Page 1A.)
+ Paradise found in U.S. Census Bureau numbers
The U.S. Census Bureau admitted that erroneous data for Longboat Key was released mid-March. Census workers found that the under-18 population, rather than holding steady as reported earlier, actually dropped by 72% over the past decade when residents were told they could not count toy poodles, Maltese puppies or Persian kittens as children.
Additionally, 22.3% of island residents listed “Paradise” rather than “Longboat Key” on their census questionnaires, causing officials to accidentally list “Paradise, Fla.,” as a census-designated place. Examination of data revealed that Longboat Key actually experienced a 10.8% increase in population, rather than the 9.4% drop previously reported. Census officials apologized for not recognizing Longboat Key for the “Paradise” that it is.