A simple yes or no answer won’t do.
A new working group is developing a list of questions for a consultant that will help provide input on where the town of Longboat Key is headed in the future. And, if any of those questions the group proposed Monday, June 10, at Town Hall, receive just yes or no answers, then that means the group provided poor questions.
“All of the questions need as much open-endedness as possible,” said Commissioner Jack Duncan. “We need detailed answers.”
Duncan, Commissioner Pat Zunz, Planning and Zoning Board members Walter Hackett and George Symanski Jr. and Key residents Tom Freiwald and Larry Grossman make up the group that spent three hours Monday formulating questions that it expects the Washington, D.C.-based The Urban Land Institute (ULI) to answer. ULI has asked for a list of no more than 12 questions it would ask residents, when ULI officials meet with panels of residents this fall to seek what they want for the town in the future. After the town submits the questions, the commission will approve a $125,000 contract with the company at its Monday, June 17 workshop. ULI will eventually provide a detailed report once it gets feedback from town residents.
Town Manager Dave Bullock facilitated the meeting and explained the process.
“Long before I got here, the town began a long-term process that involved generating a Vision Plan in 2007, followed by some core values and a mission statement in 2011,” Bullock said. “This is the next step in how we get where we want to go.”
Bullock warned that creating the questions is the most important part of the process.
“Ask the wrong questions and you get the wrong answers,” Bullock said.
Duncan said the first question that needs to be asked is if the town’s Vision Plan and mission statement are realistic.
“They (ULI) could tell us our Vision Plan is crap,” Duncan said. “If it is, I want them to tell me that because we need to know if that plan is worth the paper it’s printed on before we can move forward properly.”
Once the group debated the Vision Plan and its worthiness for a while, the questions started to form rather quickly (see sidebar for a list of proposed questions).
The group decided that questions need to address the Key’s demographics, zoning and how the town should attract future residents.
Questions about whether or not the town needs a town center and/or a community center were also proposed, along with what kind of technology and services the town needs to satisfy residents and visitors.
“We have to know what we need to maintain our premier status,” said Commissioner Phill Younger.
Ask and You Shall Receive
A Longboat Key working group submitted the following concept language for nine questions for a consultant to use this fall. Town staff will draft those questions this week for the group to review at 2 p.m. Friday, June 14, at Town Hall:
• Are the adopted Vision Plan, mission statement and core values realistic and achievable?
• Does the town have the appropriate mix of uses (residential, tourism, commercial) and what is the right mix?
• Are there different elements of planning that should be considered for different parts of the Key?
• A question will be formed regarding redevelopment issues with building complexities and ownership/community infrastructure.
• What’s the appropriate balance of full-time and part-time residents moving forward? Who should the town be attracting and what kind of balance should the town expect moving forward?
• What are the challenges the town faces and what does the town have to do to maintain its status as a premier residential community?
• What are the innovations/amenities and the technology needed to keep the community attractive?
• How does the town leverage its current natural assets, such as beaches, parks and the environment? What are the Key’s advantages and disadvantages and how does the town leverage its advantages?
• Does the town need a town center? If it’s needed, what would be included in the center and where should it be put?
Urban Land Institute Mission
The mission of the Urban Land Institute is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.