When the residents of the town agreed to embark on the mission to continually enhance and maintain the beach, it was on the clear understanding that the beachfront owners and the commercial interests were to shoulder 80% of the costs and the remainder of the owners would pay 20%.
Unfortunately, it now becomes apparent that a significant portion of these expenses is not being borne proportionally but, instead, equally by the entire tax base. These expenditures consist of maintenance, monitoring, engineering and legal costs, etc. — not directly attributable to actually bonded construction programs. This is patently unfair and is in direct contradiction to the original premises — 80% versus 20% — that still barely resulted in a majority of just three votes for the institution of the beach program in the original election.
This inequity is getting worse. It is further impacted by the result of hardened structures impacting the beaches downwind. It started with The Islander Club’s groins, necessitating beach restoration for its southern abutters. Now the real conflict is starting to emerge. That is by the ad hoc defenders of Beer Can Island, who have formed to protect this now almost glorified piece of sand. Predictably there will be some impact on it by the construction of the three groins now proposed.
Understand, these groins are primarily intended to protect two structures that were constructed too close to the waters of the Gulf, back in the 1970s. If these defenders of Beer Can Island succeed in affecting permitting, there will be a long and costly road ahead before construction could start. Plus, unintended but foreseeable liability forever.
Some of these moneys have been — or will be — utilizing funds credited to the town as “tourism” reimbursements by the counties and the state and the federal governments. In my considered opinion, these particular funds should be utilized only for activities and expenses benefiting the whole town and not just for the beachfront and commercial property owners.
Many of my best friends live on the beach. I do not expect any of them to maintain my seawall. Why should I maintain their beach? They do not need charity, nor do I. Beach renourishment and maintenance by the town is not a god-given mandate. It is specifically an activity the beach activists coerced the electorate into accepting under specific limitations. Adhere to them or rethink beach renourishment.
This is an appropriate time to resolve this issue. Especially with the Draconian actions to take funds from the town’s dedicated employees who make Longboat Key what attracted (and keeps) us here. Dear taxpayers — ask yourselves — how many times do you use and need them versus how many times do you dip your toes into the waters of the Gulf?
On a personal note, ask the commissioner, who voted against the employees’ request, how much it would have cost versus how much the town actually spent on building his residence a groin and now having to restore the beaches of his southerly neighbors.
As a concerned citizen I have been unsuccessful in getting an accounting of the actual monies involved. It has been several months since I started on this mission, but I am still hopeful it will still be forthcoming. I hope!
Bradford Saivetz is a Country Club Shores resident and a former member of the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board.