+ Stop the madness of Key Club project
I write to urge my fellow residents of Longboat Key and our elected officials to stop the madness known as the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside project.
First, my credentials. I started visiting Longboat Key as a university student in the early 1970s, when my uncle and late aunt purchased a condo unit here. In December 2008, my wife and I bought the condo unit that my parents had rented for many winters. We consider Longboat Key to be our second home.
Why did we buy on Longboat Key? Primarily because Longboat Key is quiet and immaculately maintained, with low population density and no high-rise buildings. In terms of services, as long as there are a few restaurants, a grocery store and a bank, we are satisfied. Those who support the Key Club project claim that we need a 12'‘story hotel and convention center so that the businesses that provide services to us will thrive. Yet, by allowing a hotel and convention center to be built, we will lose the very qualities that brought us to Longboat Key. There is a technical term for this type of backward reasoning — pretzel logic! It makes no sense at all.
Those who support the Key Club project point to an alleged decline of Longboat Key. This is fiction — Longboat Key is not Detroit. The fact that a men’s clothing store closed at Bay Isles and that there are at present a few commercial vacancies is hardly evidence of decline when taken in the context of the current brutal economic recession. There will always be services on Longboat Key. In any event, we don’t come to Longboat Key to go shopping — for that we can go to St. Armand’s Circle or to Sarasota, 20 minutes away.
Let’s fast-forward five years, with a 12'‘story hotel and convention center on Longboat Key. Welcome to our new national sport — trying to get into traffic on Gulf of Mexico Drive and spending a half-hour negotiating St. Armands Circle. But that’s OK, we can console ourselves at one of the new Longboat Key bars that has opened to keep our visiting conventioneers happy late at night. Long after the real-estate developer has made its profits and left Longboat Key for its next project, this will be the new reality of life on Longboat.
And the ultimate joke — the claim that our real-estate values will rise by 7% after the Key Club expansion, fueled no doubt by increased traffic and noise!
And if Longboat Key amends its zoning code to allow a 12-story hotel at the Key Club, what is to stop existing hotels, such as the Hilton, and other developers from making the same request once a legal precedent has been set? Nothing at all.
If we had wanted to be owners in the midst of high-rise buildings, conventions, traffic and commercial activity, we would have bought in Fort Lauderdale. Don’t let Longboat Key become a place where the motto is: “This used to be a great place.”
+ Keys should create new county together
I would like to propose an arrangement, which I believe could be of enormous advantage to the keys of Sarasota, which all currently pay colossal property taxes to Manatee and Sarasota counties, especially for education and way beyond any money received back in expenditure on the keys.
I suggest Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Lido Key, St. Armand’s Key, Bird Key, Siesta Key and Casey Key should band together and form a new county called “Key County” and disassociate from Sarasota and Manatee counties.
This new county would have colossal income — vastly in excess of its needs even with its own police force, jail, schools, fire, governments, etc. So much so that it could give a boost to its commercial sector, especially shopping, by dropping sales tax to 4% or 5% to give an edge over Sarasota and Bradenton and drop property taxes by up to half, which would benefit every single resident and business on these islands and improve property values here to everyone’s benefit.
I would suggest the Longboat Key police and fire services could be expanded to cover all the local keys with new stations on Siesta. A new school — probably on Siesta Key — could service all the children with a water taxi service from Casey to Siesta and Lido to Siesta to ferry children to and fro. I would even consider a couple of bridges from Lido to Siesta and possibly Siesta to Casey to facilitate management of public services and greater cohesion between the islands.
The financial and economic case for this idea would be most compelling and a huge benefit to all. Surely we islands have more in common than we do differences. Each island could have local government as Longboat Key does now, and each island could elect members to a new county government to arrange public services.
A new government being formed in a recession, if not a depression, could be created much leaner and more efficient than existing government, which grew fat in the good times and finds it hard to cut back in difficult economic times.
I urge public and local government discussion of this idea because I believe it would create an amazing and powerful new county with low millage and high property values. A 50% reduction in property taxes and one-third reduction in sales tax would be appreciated by the electorate and would do a lot to drag us out of the recession/depression because people would want to move here.
+ Thank you for making fashion show a success
We sincerely wish to thank everyone who attended The Lord’s Warehouse fashion show and luncheon March 9, at the Longboat Island Chapel.
A special thanks to Martha Sammons Miller and her kitchen crew who served the luncheon to nearly 200 in a half-hour. Another big thank-you to all the merchants and friends who donated raffle items.
More than 40 volunteers took part in this event, and as co-chairwomen, we would like to express our sincere appreciation for helping make this the most successful fashion show we’ve held. The show, fashions and delicious lunch exceeded all our expectations.
Cindy Kuehnel and Sue Reese
Co-chairwomen of The Lord’s Warehouse fashion show