Town Manager Dave Bullock
• That the community finds a way to embrace its unique and extraordinary human and natural assets and work together to improve the Key for current and future residents and visitors.
• No hurricanes for 2014.
• Endless, low-cost white sand that nature places on our beach for free.
• A redeveloped beautiful Colony.
• Increasing property values.
• Happy people.
• Calm seas, hungry fish that bite and full dive tanks.
Vice Mayor David Brenner
My 2014 wish list for Longboat Key is from the perspective of a citizen, a voter, a taxpayer and a commissioner.
The key is progress. It's my wish that the majority of our citizens will recognize that change is happening despite what we do. Using the Urban Land Institute roadmap, we can influence how that change can benefit all of us without altering the character of the Key. It's all about moving into the future with a well thought-out plan.
It's also my wish that the United States can get back on the right track as a viable democracy without all the confrontation and backbiting that have become the norm. It is in our selfish interest to have a vibrant country and state in which we reside. The impact on Longboat Key is incalculable.
It is also my wish that members of the millennial generation will see the wisdom of living on Longboat Key, whether full time or part time. We need the energy they bring and the economic vitality created by these younger people, much like the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort did in its heyday.
My genuine wish for good health extends to everyone here. As Tom Esselman of The Institute for the Ages will tell you, it is not your age that counts, but a mindset that knows no bounds. The only limit is how well we feel. Being creative and imaginative is a state of mind — hopefully an active lifestyle that takes advantage of all Longboat Key has to offer.
Happy holidays and a better 2014.
Commissioner Jack Duncan
I wish for peace on earth.
I wish in all our hearts and actions goodwill toward our neighbors.
I wish all residents of Longboat Key a safe, healthy and prosperous 2014.
Commissioner Terry Gans
A wish list is a difficult assignment, because I believe that if there is something you think is needed, or should be accomplished, we have to call upon the wisdom, focus and energy to make it happen. Wishing alone does not do it.
But, for the coming year on Longboat Key:
• May we treat each other as neighbors and friends.
• May we respect the sincerity and good intentions of others.
• May we use this respect and friendship to seriously discuss and debate the findings in the ULI study.
• May we move forward on those items we feel will serve our town for the future.
• May the legislature restore our ability to have referenda on density.
• May the Colony achieve the elusive Global Settlement.
• May the signals on GMD always be timed properly.
• May tropical storms and hurricanes stay away.
• May carriers embrace a small-cell solution for our remaining communications needs.
• May we all have good health.
Commissioner Lynn Larson
I wish for a complete settlement of all litigation involved with the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort and the sight of a signed contract with a well financed and experienced hospitality developer. I also wish all buildings east of the Coastal Construction Line be demolished and retention, with extensive rehabilitation, of all salvageable buildings seaward of that construction line.
I wish and hope that our tax and insurance burden on our citizens doesn’t become such a burden that they have to relocate off the Key.
I wish that the commission could get its job done while most of our residents are in town and not handle big issues while they are gone in the summer. If Congress and the Legislature can do their job in so many days, we can, too.
I wish for a community center that revolves around citizen input from ULI recommendations that includes matching funding from private groups.
I wish for an updated charter that could move the fiscal year to accommodate the new commission schedule and other wishes listed.
I wish for underground utilities on the Key.
I wish for a building code that takes less than three years for an experienced developer to navigate.
I wish for building codes that would help residents of condominiums rebuild their units if they desired. To make homes safer with current hurricane standards and in step with higher ceilings, larger kitchens and baths that current buyers want would help change our Island from the one people wanted 30 years ago and retain our position as a top destination for visiting and buying homes.
I wish for an island that keeps municipal budgets in line with residents' needs while remembering the pressure residents feel in their wallets with rising insurance rates and taxes. I wish for an island where the residents can still afford to live.
I wish for changes in our charter that would prohibit any Town Commission from incurring debt or committing the town to expenses, which would last more than a specific number of budget years without voter approval. No commission should have the power to commit future generations of taxpayers to millions of dollars without voter approval.
I wish for a vibrant north end of the Key with mixed-use development where housing is above commercial uses so that residents, who no longer wish to drive, could ride an elevator or walk to dinner, visit a hairdresser or utilize other services.
I wish to avoid turning the Centre Shops into the next Whitney Beach experience.
I wish that citizens will give much consideration to commitment of additional amenities without matching dollars for facilities from the private sector and ongoing annual budgets funded by private foundations.
I wish for more transparency in our town where citizens may follow what is happening in government. Our local press does a wonderful job of keeping the public informed but (residents) may interpret their view without input from other sources, such as more meeting broadcasts.
I wish for more community involvement from citizens. Perhaps if we do a better job of keeping them informed, we will accomplish this goal.
I wish for a date that we will make a final decision on how best to handle our poor communication issues.
I wish for many more tax dollars to cross the bridges and return to Longboat Key.
I wish for better cooperation from all parties involved in commission activities, including all commissioners so that all our wishes are accomplishments and we have an even better Longboat Key.
Many wishes involve complex issues that will consume substantial time and outside resources. Thank you to voters who returned me to office until March 2016 so that I have more time to work on these and other issues and not just wish for solutions.
Commissioner Phill Younger
Before looking to the future, I would like to note some good things that have been accomplished in 2013. For example: The long-increasing and festering pension debt for all employee groups has been stopped. Commission consensus ended the turmoil surrounding the controversial cell tower issue by agreeing that communications can be achieved without a tower. Re-codification of our land-use ordinances so that they will be in line with today’s realities and to adequately protect our citizens has begun.
Following the usual litany of items: peace on earth, goodwill to mankind, etc., for Longboat Key’s future in particular is:
• Completing fair and balanced re-codification of our land use ordinances
• Maintaining prudent control on our finances and millage rate, with no tax increases
• Resolving bureaucratic red tape issues so that we may begin actual implementation of our shoreline protection and beach nourishment projects
• Resolution of The Colony issues
• Leveraging the recent ULI evaluation and efforts by our subsequent committee to provide positive enhancements for our community
• Resolving issues surrounding the feasibility, benefits and possible location of a Community Center
• Continuing to prudently serve and protect all our residents, properties and interests, while recognizing that tourism and business must be reasonably and properly balanced to maintain and enhance our lifestyle
• That we will all arise each morning with an appreciation of our friends and loved ones and the opportunity to witness another day in this paradise in which we live
• To continue representing all residents in a fair and beneficial manner so as to keep Longboat Key an island known to us all as “paradise”
Commissioner Pat Zunz
My 2014 wish list for Longboat Key has two avenues to follow for a much-needed civil dialogue on Longboat Key. One avenue is neighborhood oriented, and the other is an island-wide approach.
I would like to see a series of neighborhood dialogues about some of the ideas ULI has recommended. These dialogues should address issues to specific neighborhoods as well as some island-wide issues. I think the town manager would be willing to help facilitate these neighborhood dialogues.
I would like to see some community-wide events at Joan M. Durante Park and Bayfront Park. At Durante Park I would like to see a bring-your-own sandwiches and drinks for an afternoon or evening of socialization and discussion, perhaps with the town manager as a facilitator of the discussion topics. At Bayfront Park I would like to see morning or afternoon "athletic" events — badminton, bocce, softball, tennis, kayaking — activities to bring people together for some fun.
And for a more ambitious island-wide undertaking, I would like to see something similar to the Symphony by the Sea, which recently enjoyed tremendous success on the island to the north of us. Perhaps we could do something similar at Durante Park, and have it catered by some of our wonderful Longboat Key restaurants.
Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming
• Replace worn-out out crime scene van with a properly outfitted mini van.
• Update the police department’s patrol and support fleet.
• Increase our Marine Patrol unit to at least two officers for seven-day coverage.
• Establish a Citizens Police Academy and/or crime-prevention programs educating residents and improving community relationship with the police department.
• Create a full-time community affairs officer position to work with residents and homeowner associations.
• Update the police locker room and add a fitness center.
• Equip each officer with a laptop/tablet.
• Increase manpower to decrease overtime and improve the level of service.
• Add a bicycle officer to patrol behind the gates and Bay Isles shopping center.
Longboat Key Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dezzi
• A patient care electronic reporting system
• A combination mobile data terminal and tablet for reporting
• A communication repeaters in each vehicle for safety of responders while in high-rise buildings
• An updated incident command vehicle
• Updated breathing apparatus to be compatible with neighboring fire departments
• Accountability system for firefighter safety
• Updated fitness equipment for all town employees
• Stable workforce
• Settlement of a way to get rid of the $28 million pension unfunded liability.
• Settlement of the ongoing nonsense of the Colony so that the place can once again be a magnet for tourists who will help the local business community.
• Proceed with the ULI recommendations one way or the other so that we don't have to wait the mandatory three years to get anything done on this island.
Commission Candidate Armando Linde
Here is my best wishes list for Longboat Key in 2014:
Above all, good health and harmony for one and all. ’Tis the season to forget old grudges and forgive past mistakes. After all, we truly live in a happy place!
Let’s aim at seeking unity of purpose in the months ahead as together we search for options to preserve and enhance the elegance of Longboat Key, its status as a premier community and its fame as an enviable resort destination.
Recent initiatives proposing the establishment of a focal point of activity on the island has led to a healthy conversation on how best to foster community spirit and a sense of pride among residents. As we seek common ground on ways to proceed, my wish is that we keep our feet firmly on the ground and consider options that are viable, affordable and benefit all island residents.
I wish wisdom to our governing body, various committees and town staff as they work through ways to streamline regulations without disturbing the feel of the island. There are funding challenges ahead, but they are far from insurmountable if we remain clear-headed and tackle them intelligently, as I am sure we will.
In this connection, we ought to find ways in 2014 to retain a more equitable share of the tax money the counties collect from us.
Finally, this is a wish and a promise on my part that the political campaign for the March election be conducted in a clean and positive manner, one that will serve to crystallize the issues facing the community and give voters clear choices.
As always, my very best wishes to everyone on Longboat Key ...
Commission candidate Irwin Pastor
• I wish a wonderful happy healthy and prosperous New Year to Longboat Key residents and businesses.
• For a white knight to appear to facilitate and resolve the Colony issues.
• For the Longboat Key community to participate and support the Urban Land Institute Implementation Committee effort to recommend and evaluate the possible changes necessary to maintain and enhance the character of Longboat Key.
• For the Longboat Key Commission to have the insight and wisdom to make the necessary changes in the Comprehensive Plan and the modernization of Longboat Key’s codes and zoning to maintain and enhance the character of Longboat Key.
• That our town is successful in pursuing a legislative amendment to the new Florida state law HB537, which undermines and stalls land-use policies that our community has adopted and followed since 1984.
• That I be elected as Longboat Key commissioner at-large in the March 25 election. This would give me the opportunity to work with the commission and the town Staff to help facilitate and implement positive change for our residents and businesses of Longboat Key.
Happy New Year to all!
Commission candidate Ray Rajewski
That hurricanes stay far away from our shores.
Flood and wind insurance rates remain reasonable
The Colony issues are resolved and re-development begins.
Whitney Plaza begins to show signs of improvement.
2014 is an important election year; be informed and vote.
May God protect our service men and women overseas.
Continued good health and prosperity for all residents of Longboat Key. Enjoy all that it has to offer.
Jeff Mayers, general manager of the Longboat Key Club
• Continued growth in tourism
• Growth in the number of businesses on the Key
• Phenomenal weather particularly during the winter and spring seasons
• No hurricane activity
• Health and prosperity for our residents
• Membership growth for the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce
• Creation of projects to enhance the quality of life through the Longboat Key Foundation
I wish that the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort parties will come to their senses, come to an agreement, level the property and build a new beautiful resort of which we can be proud.
I wish that the Longboat Key Hilton Beachfront Resort project will be approved as soon as possible so we can get that resort renovated and add additional hotel rooms.
I wish that the Longboat Key Club will present a new renovation-and-expansion project for the island to give us a beautiful new club that will help the vitality of this island.
Rabbi Jonathan Katz
I wish town leaders would challenge FDOT regulations that prevent communities from using stylized signposts that would provide measure of unique civic character. Longboat Key along Gulf of Mexico Drive would look so much more attractive and inviting if it featured distinctive signposts.
I wish more Jewish residents of Longboat Key would support the only Jewish congregation on Longboat Key.
I wish more people living in paradise would complain less and be thankful more. The glass is always much more half-full than half-empty on Longboat Key.
I wish there was a coffee shop in the Publix shopping center.
I wish there was a nice playground where children, parents and grandparents could spend some nice quality time together.
I wish Longboat Key had an inventive motto.
I wish there could be a small stage setup in the vicinity of Publix for community concerts and/or outdoor films.
I wish there was a weekly farmers market on the Key.
I love Longboat Key, and most people I know love it as well. However, although we all love Longboat Key, there are differences in our views of what the future will bring.
There are those who believe that all is well and that the best course of action is to do nothing. Others, like myself, believe that a do-nothing policy will hasten the demise of our beloved island.
Although the ULI study suggested many actions, in my opinion the most significant benefit was the data presented and observations confirming that a proactive program is required to assure our future … what I refer to as the “call to action.”
Note the following ULI observations:
1. Nearly all purchasing retirement or vacation properties had spent vacation time on Longboat Key
2. High property values with a shrinking pipeline of new purchasers
3. Buyers looking for newer products, which are in short supply: high ceilings, open floor plans, larger modern kitchens
4. Comp Plan and zoning codes are outdated
5. Seasonal traffic congestion
6. Residents and visitors require consistent and reliable wireless communications
7. Businesses struggle to survive in the off-season
My wish for Longboat Key for 2014 is that we come together as a community and agree on the issues.
Then, action plans addressing the issues can be developed that all can embrace and support.
Bob Simmons, chairman of the board of directors for the new Longboat Key Foundation
My wishes for Longboat Key in 2014 include a successful first -year launch of the new Longboat Key Foundation.
The foundation exists "for the support and benefit of exclusively charitable purposes in and for the benefit of Longboat Key and its residents.”
My wish is for the many wonderful and civic-minded residents of Longboat Key to contribute to the Longboat Key Foundation and its endeavors.
My wish list for Longboat Key in 2014 includes the following:
• A resolution for the Colony that satisfies all parties fairly, including the demolition of the existing facilities and new construction of a world-class resort and tennis facility. Along with this rebuilding, this area of Longboat Key will become the tennis mecca of Southwest Florida because it includes the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center and the Longboat Key Club Tennis Gardens. This wish would create a huge tourist destination and increase demand for housing and raise real estate values.
• Revisit the DROP program for public employees and drop it. The commission passing this outrageous benefit was nothing other than repeating the mistakes of prior commissions. Small benefits eventually become large benefits and costs, and that’s how the town got onto its unfunded pension liability mess to begin with. Drop the DROP.
• Longboat Key voters many years ago rejected a $6 million community center. If any center is to be built, let the financing come from the Sarasota County 1% tax approved a few years ago to fund recreational activities. Longboat Key tax payers contribute an enormous proportion of real estate taxes toward public schools for the few students residing on the island. John Ringling was smart in one regard: He withdrew Longboat Key from the city of Sarasota. What he failed to do is withdraw Longboat Key from both Sarasota and Manatee counties, a far more costly mistake.
• If a town center is to be built, it needs to be in the area surrounding Publix, CVS, post office, tennis center, etc., because that area has already become the unofficial town center with all the amenities clustered together. The Bayfront Park can continue as is and eventually be torn down as it deteriorates and the land is sold for private development.
• On a macro level, America must restore itself as a nation of individuals pursuing his/her own dreams of independence and self-sufficiency to maximize the individual’s prosperity and happiness. Each person pursuing his own goals simultaneously creates a nation of communal prosperity where everyone benefits and thrives. Communism does not work — the collapse of the Soviet Union and central planning is proof positive. Each maximizing his own results in the ultimate prosperity of all.
1. That the residents of Longboat Key awake from their deep slumber and apathy and understand that their vote is important and install a Town Commission that works “For the People,” and not for the commercial interests that flourish here
2. That the town commissioners consider paying for the privilege of serving, rather than looking for compensation.
3. That when it comes to spending our money, the town commissioners understand that things that affect our quality of life deserve more consideration than those attracting the casual visitor. (This includes adequate compensation for the Town employees who make this town what it is.)
4. That the Town Commission relinquish its “final say” control over plan approval which, rightfully, should be returned to the Planning and Zoning Board.
5. That the Planning and Zoning Board members be elected by the citizenry and not continue as the “Old Boys Club” and Farm League Team of the Commission.
6. That the town commissioners and Planning and Zoning Board members be elected; two from, and by, the voters in each district and one at-large.
7. That the Town Commission remove itself from supervision over the town staff and allow the town manager do its job.
8. That the town dispense with a town attorney chosen from the local field — and engage a town attorney, properly accredited, who works for the town without any baggage of local affiliations or connections.
9. That the Town turn back the clock and reinstall the zoning laws and the Comprehensive Plan in effect prior to the application relating to the Key Club expansion proposal. The Town has since been doing handsprings in order to accommodate the departures requested in that proposal. Those laws and Comprehensive Plan served us well and helped create the ambiance here.
10. That, in the event that further development plans are proposed in our town, that the reviewing personnel re-read the Zoning Laws with respect to parking areas and see that they require “mature trees” (not Palms) installed at every six parking spaces. I can understand why planning professional present lavishly pre-stamped landscaping plans (I admit guilt in this regard, back in the real world) but, obviously, they do not always result in the same properly landscaped and shaded parking lot which formerly existed in the previous Avenue of the Flowers and, now presentg in the present Centre Shops.
11.That the Town Commission cease to spend their time and our money on their dream of a Community Center, complete with Pickle Ball courts.
12. That the Town Commission cease to spend their time and our money on their dream of a Town Center, complete with dog runs and Realty Offices.
• Residents working together to bring LBK into the future
• Island-wide communication (cellular and/or Wi-Fi) and that it be the best available now and not wait for some future technology to come down the line
• The completion of the Comprehensive Plan and codes, done as a priority, not something that drags on forever.
• Bayfront Park being turned into a recreational area using the plan put forth by Sarasota County as a starting point.
For those considering a residence here, welcome. For those looking to leave, thanks for being part of us.
For those eager to contribute, there's a cause that can use your talents. For those seeking rest and relaxation, don't overdose. For those declining with age, you can still grow in importance. For those who service us with their labor and skills, take pride in that we wouldn't be the same without you.
Ann Roth and Gaele Barhold, former co-presidents of the former Longboat Key Public Interest Committee (PIC)
Our wish would be to have a collegiality among our leaders and citizens that would alleviate the impediments to the necessary revitalization of Longboat Key while maintaining its character and insuring its future.
Bud, Vera, Mark and Mike Freeman
Many thanks for giving us the opportunity of extending our wish list for 2014.
1. We wish for speed bumps along Bayview Drive to control speeding by some drivers who pay no attention to signage. Note: This request has not been checked with our neighbors but is a personal observation that has worsened over the past year.
2. We wish for safer access to Gulf of Mexico Drive from Bayview Drive. At the entrance to Bayview Drive off/on the GMD from Bayview Drive, the town graciously planted shrubs, which are desirable to a point. The point is, these shrubs are apparently planted without regard to automotive safe access to and from GMD. We wish for relief.
3. As 32-year, full-time residents, we have, over the years, noted a heavy increase in bicycle traffic along GMD. The roadside bike paths are about half the needed width for safety concerns, making it necessary, all too often, for motorists to cross the yellow lines to keep clear of bikers. This condition is exacerbated by seasonal traffic increases when many much-older (some infirm) drivers are traveling GMD. There appears to be enough space on either side of the roadway for another 2 feet of paved bike path without an adverse effect upon the scenery. (I personally always use the original bike path/sidewalk as a result.) Frankly, the roadside path is downright dangerous to life and limbs and takes just one thoughtless zig or zag of a biker to cause a disaster. We doubt anything will be done about this but thought it worth noting anyway for the record.
4. We wish that all wannabes who run for local office would be required to have lived here on the Key full time for at least 10 years prior to filing to run for office. After 32 years on the Key, we have come to believe this would provide a far better understanding of Longboat’s needs than lesser-time residents.
5. We also wish to thank you and all members of the Observer for providing us with the Observer. We enjoy it very much and watched it grow with Longboat Key.
6. We wish the islanders would come out and support our library and long-suffering Historical Society. The history of financial support should be embarrassing to everyone.
7. We also wish to thank the town for a great job in keeping Longboat Key as it is. Those I have spoken with feel we Longboaters enjoy the best there is in facilities to include fire and personnel protection and great administration.
Thanks for this opportunity and very best wishes to you and everyone there for a wonderful holiday season and prosperous New Year.
This year, I wish the Town Commission carefully weigh the benefits and costs of beach nourishment, particularly putting hardened structures on the beaches. There are lots of examples of the use of structures that could be examined to assess their ability to perform as intended.
I believe a review of the in-place structures will reveal that they are marginally effective and may actually be detrimental. I would suggest anyone involved in the process or interested in it. Google and watch the documentary “Shored Up.”
It’s my wish that the commission consider more open space projects for the Key. One suggestion would be on the north end of the Key perhaps in the Village on the east side of Palm Drive bordered on the west by vacant lots on Longboat Drive South.
I also wish the commission continues to listen to the people of the Village to maintain the area’s character.
I wish the town would financially support Sarasota Bay Watch, the 501(c)3, environmental organization that is working to protect and enhance the quality of Sarasota Bay. Sarasota Bay Watch is the organization that has released 54 million scallop larvae in the last two years in an effort to re-establish stable breeding populations.
Dr. Michael P. Crosby, president and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory
Ocean literacy: Our community is fascinated with the oceans, just like our scientists and educators at Mote. However, many underestimate how much our oceans matter to life on Earth. More than 2.6 billion people rely on seafood as a major source of protein. Half of Earth’s oxygen comes from phytoplankton, tiny ocean life forms. Our own Sarasota Bay is an estuary of national significance, providing essential habitat for many animals. A major goal of our informal science-education programs here is to help more members of our community understand why oceans matter and why science is important in helping to inform decisions that may impact marine and coastal ecosystems.
Volunteerism: Like many nonprofits, Mote benefits immeasurably from hardworking volunteers — in our case, more than 1,600 this year. In 2014, I hope to see this selfless spirit grow to benefit all nonprofits in need and our entire community.
Working together: I would like to see more local organizations team up to solve problems important to our community. I’ve experienced the power of teamwork firsthand during our efforts to restore depleted scallop populations here. Mote scientists are developing and implementing shellfish restoration projects by working closely with community volunteers in Sarasota Bay Watch, the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and other partners — including international partners from Japan and even local high schools students. I hope such teamwork will flourish in the future.
Appreciation: The New Year is a great time to renew our appreciation for iconic programs that give back to Sarasota. For example, Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol has monitored local nesting beaches to help conserve endangered sea turtles, providing data to local municipalities and educating local residents, for more than 31 years — even while funding sources have fluctuated, declined or disappeared. I encourage readers to find the program most meaningful to them and support it however they can.