Irwin Pastor is tired of the perception that comes along with being a member of the Islandside Property Owners Coalition. Or, in Pastor’s case, the coalition’s vice president.
“I’m not a threat and the coalition is not a threat,” Pastor said. “On the contrary, I think we helped preserve the Key and pushed for appropriate change.”
Pastor, a L’Ambiance resident since 2001, was the man behind the scenes of the coalition the past few years and its unofficial mediation expert.
He hopped on a plane to New York City to meet with Loeb Partners Realty CEO Joe Lesser in 2009, when the company was presenting a $400 million Longboat Key Club and Resort expansion project.
“The property owners here were very worried and unhappy the project was too much and wasn’t safe for our road,” Pastor said. “Looking back, our work served a purpose.”
That mission, which was to preserve the town’s codes and try to negotiate a smaller project, Pastor said, cost the coalition — and its members — $943,000.
The end result: The club’s project was never built, and development has been frozen Key-wide after a court ruling rendered the town’s codes and Comprehensive Plan are in need of a major overhaul.
“Change and redevelopment is good,” Pastor said. “But it has to be done correctly, responsibly and sensibly without violating the rights of property owners. It’s so important we do it right and not let anyone rush it.”
Pastor wants to be a commissioner as the town revises its codes. But, he thinks an economic consultant needs to assist in a process and that it should be put off until after the election.
Asked why he’s running against Commissioner Terry Gans for the one-year at-large seat, Pastor said it’s simple.
“Terry told everyone he was just filling the seat and wouldn’t seek re-election and I respected that,” Pastor said. “But when he reversed his stance and filed to run, I wasn’t going to let him run unopposed. We have different visions (Gans was a Key Club Islandside project supporter) and I think the voters should decide which vision they want.”
Pastor, though, is a man who wants to put the past Key Club project debate behind him.
“It’s over and it’s time to move on,” Pastor said. “I have reached out to other commissioners and told them I’m not an obstacle.”
He worked his way up the family-business ladder at the Buffalo, N.Y.,-based Pepsi Bottling Group plant, from sorting Pepsi bottles in the back of his dad’s pickup truck to becoming the CEO.
Along the way, he’s bought and sold other companies, including the first plant that produced Aquafina water and Lipton iced tea bottled beverages.
Locally, he and his son, Scott, operate Sarasota Yogurt Co. on St. Armands Circle; the business is considering franchise opportunities.
Being a businessman and a community-oriented person goes hand-in-hand for Pastor.
Pastor’s not-for-profit experience, especially in Buffalo, is vast.
In the 1990s, he bought Buffalo-based W&F Manufacturing Inc., a longtime maker of wax products, for one main reason.
“There were 400 jobs at stake and I couldn’t let that happen to those people,” said Pastor, who brought the company back in the black.
His business sense, Pastor said, will make him an asset on the commission.
“I listen first, get consensus, recognize how to go forward and help make things happen,” Pastor said.
Former occupation: Retired CEO
Family: Wife, Sylvia; a son; two daughters; 13 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren. (Another great-grandson and another granddaughter are due to join the family in March.)
Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y.
Hobbies: Fishing in the Gulf behind L’Ambiance and ice hockey (played in college)
Interesting fact: Pastor’s family once owned the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League, which is now the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres.