+ Sign beautification needed
In the May 22 article, “Commissioners review town wish list,” Longboat Observer Managing Editor Kurt Schultheis noted that at the recent Longboat Key Town Commission’s Goals and Objectives Workshop, I continued my “quest against excessive signage by urging commissioners to reduce the number of signs along Gulf of Mexico Drive.”
However, I also indicated the need for sign beautification as well, something Commissioner Jack Duncan concurred with. I shared photos of the classy signage that another Florida town, Weston, recently installed and remarked that Longboat Key is equally deserving of this aesthetically striking amenity.
Regrettably, because Florida cities and towns refuse to challenge the Florida Department of Transportation’s aesthetic control of their gateway thoroughfares, virtually no distinctive-looking signage is permitted on major arteries in the state.
I would like to see Longboat Key take the lead in petitioning FDOT to make quality signage possible here. Why can’t we help preserve our identity by seeking to be signage trailblazers ?
Rabbi Jonathan R. Katz
Temple Beth Israel
+ Progress cannot be denied
It seems for the last year, nearly every issue of your paper has had front page stories about citizens obstructing proposals on almost every front. Sadly, it does not seem to be universally clear that smaller worlds must adapt over time, nor that “the greater good for the greater number” is an ethical principle to be embraced.
One wonders if those stridently opposing new initiatives ever step back to see the bigger picture, the ugliness of their anger and stridency, and how actions taken to protect or improve a narrow interest may have unintended consequences which may erode the broader quality of life.
The latest sad example is your front page story about how the hue and cry of Village residents has affected Ed Chiles’ proposed modest changes to the Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub. The lack of trust and unwillingness to take Mr. Chiles at his word is undeserved, and breathtaking to those of us watching from the sidelines.
What possible justification is there for interacting in this way with a longtime businessman who has a continuous record of neighborhood-sensitive development here and elsewhere? Moreover, one who has supported Longboat Key civic celebrations and charity events?
Certainly, progress to enhance our island community needs to be guided by an informed citizenry; further, negative impacts — both perceptual and economic — need to be avoided or mitigated.
Progress, however, will not be denied, and if it is obstructed again and again, it will drift down a path of its own making toward entropy.
The Town Commission and its apparatus has a sizable share of responsibility for this sad state of affairs. Under the guise of reasonableness, it has been elusive in its process and wishy-washy in its decisions.
It would be enormously helpful if it stuck to laying out a clear set of rules, explaining to those who come before it what is and is not allowed, and then voting proposals up or down.
Instead, we are treated to a spectacle of repetitive hearings, into which commissioners toss their own undeveloped ideas — rather than explaining the parameters of the permissible and allowing applicants to imagine and propose within those boundaries. And then, in the resulting confusion, our commission appears to be justified in its dithering and postponed decisions.
It is also not helpful for the commission to shut down out of high season. In today’s world, people do not need to be in residence to keep up with town affairs or to give their input on issues. Physical absence is a poor excuse for inattention and lack of involvement.
Our town exists year-round; it is not something conjured into existence only if certain people grace us with their presence. Trying to cram a year’s worth of governance into an abbreviated schedule is a ridiculous demand at best and disingenuous at worst.
I urge naysayers in these matters — whether related to the Longboat Key Club, the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort quarrel, the Hilton Longboat Key Beachside Resort renovation, the Arts Center expansion, telecommunication strategy, or other actionable suggestions — to examine their attitudes and tactics and to contribute to our community’s progress in more constructive and collaborative ways in the future.
And, I respectfully request our elected representatives to put in place clear rules, apprise applicants for permits of what is and is not permissible, make timely decisions — and move on.
Lack of civility, disinformation and poorly managed process have distorted what should be deliberative governance into serial and prolonged stalling, aided and abetted by parties on both sides. And we find ourselves in stupor and stagnation. We are choking in a tide that is not strong, but relentless.