The committee that prepared for the Urban Land Institute’s October study of Longboat Key consisted of two town commissioners, two Planning and Zoning Board members and two citizens.
The Urban Land Institute Implementation Advisory Committee that the commission formed last month to replace the original committee consists of Mayor Jim Brown or his appointee, PZB Chairwoman B.J. Bishop and five citizens.
Brown voted for the new committee — then he voted against it.
The mayor said at the commission’s Monday, regular meeting that he made a mistake when he voted in favor of the new committee last month.
So, he made a motion to continue with the original committee consisting of Commissioners Jack Duncan and Pat Zunz, PZB members Walter Hackett and George Symanski and Longboat Key citizens Tom Freiwald and Larry Grossman, both of whom are on the new committee.
Brown proposed adding the three additional citizens on the new committee — Roger Leibin, David Novak and Jered Whitehead — while removing himself and Bishop from the committee.
“We had a good committee,” Brown said Monday night. “This is an important committee. And I believe it’s important to have people who have the institutional knowledge and the history of the town. I understand the need to have unelected, unappointed citizens right now. But I feel pretty strongly that we made a mistake.”
Duncan seconded Brown’s motion. But other commissioners and citizens, including Freiwald, the committee’s chairman, had concerns.
“I think we have institutional memory with you and the Planning and Zoning Board chair on there,” said Commissioner Lynn Larson. “My concern is if we put more elected people on there. I want to hear what citizens want to do, not elected officials.”
“This is not a decision-making body,” Freiwald said. “This is a group that’s going to gather ideas and discuss the pros and cons.”
Describing the original group as “terrific,” Freiwald opposed the idea of changing the new group, arguing the committee would eventually present its findings to the commission.
Grossman said he was concerned the commission was focusing too much on the committee’s makeup instead of implementing the ULI study.
Brown’s motion passed 4-3, with Brenner, Larson and Commissioner Terry Gans voting against it.
The seven-member ULI Implementation Advisory Committee met the week before the commission opted to change its composition.
During that meeting, the committee appointed Freiwald as chairman. He said he believes the committee needs to act swiftly to make sure the ULI recommendations are implemented while they are still fresh in everyone’s minds.
“Let’s force ourselves into action and not meetings,” Freiwald said. “We need some goals to force this into progress.”
Freiwald presented a hierarchy chart that would test ideas and showed how they would be implemented. He also presented an action summary that the committee accepted, which allowed each member to rank the ULI recommendations in order of importance.
Staff can then use an implementation ranking system to show how recommendations panned out to find common ground on what can be implemented first and what will take longer to implement.
At the committee’s next meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, members will review the list.
Town center talk
Town Manager Dave Bullock told the ULI Implementation Advisory Committee at its initial meeting Nov. 26 that he and staff are moving ahead on several fronts to address the recommendations, including the town center concept for Bay Isles Road.
Bullock announced that he has hired Sarasota architect Gary Hoyt, who designed the new Longboat Key Publix, to make up two sets of town center renderings. One rendering will show a town center concept with the current office and commercial buildings in place, and one rendering will display a concept without the buildings. The renderings will be available this month.
“I’ve met with several property owners about the concept, and discussions with them will continue,” Bullock said.
Bullock said he’s hiring someone who can “focus on this concept on a part-time basis for the town.”
Other ULI recommendations the town is already working on include town gateways, Gulf of Mexico Drive landscaping, pedestrian- and bike-path widening and Bayfront Park upgrades.
“I’m not waiting for this committee to tell us to do something,” Bullock said. “We’re charging ahead with what we know we can get done.”
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]