It was once said that in public life “never complain, never explain.” That is a fine abstract principle, but sometimes reality dictates that one must speak up.
In the most recent Longboat Key Town Commission election, distorted claims about the Longboat Key Public Interest Committee (PIC), its members, leadership and positions were made for political purposes.
Now that the smoke of the campaign has cleared, it is time to set the record straight.
What we are
For nearly 30 years, the PIC has served to learn the facts behind issues facing Longboat’s citizens, inform the public and give voice to policies that keep our island the wonderful place it has been, is and will be in the future. We are not and have never been a mouthpiece for the Town Commission. We are watchful, critical and supportive, depending on how the commission meets the criteria of our mission, the Vision Plan and the good of our citizens
As in its early days, PIC believes there is a necessary balance of residential population, visitors (or tourists) and commercial to serve residents and visitors on the island. At times, the goal of balance — as in the past — meant saying “too much.” Today, it means recognizing that the Key is falling short on available visitor units and retail establishments and that some of our older facilities need renewal and redevelopment.
Certainly it would seem reasonable that a committee operating for the public interest should support revitalization. A worrisome trend has occurred on the Key with the closing of shops in the Avenue of the Flowers, Whitney Beach Plaza, the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort and two conveniently positioned service stations.
Who we are
PIC membership is open to any resident of Longboat Key. PIC’s membership, and its 16-member board, are made up of homeowners — single-family and condo — as well as renters. Its membership includes full-time residents and “snowbirds.” It is people who are working, and those who are retired. It is men and women. It is people from all parts of the island. It is inclusive, rather than exclusive, and it is certainly not some limited elite. PIC is made up of your neighbors.
In the last several years, PIC fulfilled its core mission of gathering and sharing information through a group of public forums and through membership receptions. PIC will continue to do so. Events have included:
• Forum on the town’s pension crisis;
• Forum on beach nourishment;
• Forum on wireless communication;
• Forum on aging in paradise;
• Forum on off-shore drilling;
• Forum on the plans and scheduling for the Publix and Avenue of the Flowers rebuilding;
• Old-fashioned town meeting reception for PIC membership to meet Interim Town Manager David Bullock and get an update on town issues;
• Special receptions for our membership to thank them for their support and to elicit their ideas;
• Candidates debate for the Third District Town Commission election, co-sponsored with the Longboat Observer;
• Forum for a report from the task force on the north-end revitalization project.
In addition, PIC board members attend all Town Commission meetings and many other community meetings sponsored by island groups.
We invite all those interested in the future of Longboat Key to join as members. Your support keeps us vital and able to present important programs of interest to our citizens.
That support has also enabled us to create an informative web site that will also keep you abreast of PIC projects and other community information, such as election results. It also offers a forum for your questions and ideas and offers you the ability to join us as members. Please use it: LBKPIC.com
Gaele Barthold and Ann Roth are co-presidents of the Longboat Key Public Interest Committee.