Last week was a good week for Longboat Key.
We read how Longboat Marine Patrol Officers John Majka and Shawn Nagell rescued a 67-year-old woman in Sarasota Bay who couldn’t swim. And how Longboat Key’s license-plate recognition cameras at both ends of the Key contributed to the apprehension of a 25-year-old thief who was breaking into storage sheds and hocking bicycles.
Longboaters pay a high price for law and order, and when they see it work, it reinforces the value of and peace of mind that goes along with that investment.
We read, too, how Longboat Key police celebrated the career of retiring Detective Capt. Kristina Roberts, a 31-year veteran of the police department and path-breaker. She wasn’t a pioneer because of her gender; Roberts set standards in the department because of her unique skills and competence as an investigator.
You had to love what Officer John Thomas said of Roberts: “In a lot of ways, she built this police department.” That is remarkably high praise when you consider two of her former bosses — the late Chiefs Wayne McCammon and Al Hogle — were legendary leaders of Longboat Key’s finest.
And the fact Roberts stayed with the department for 31 years speaks volumes about Longboat’s police department and the town as places to work.
Last week was a good week for Longboat Key taxpayers and property owners as well. Not because the Town Commission voted to set a millage rate that could increase 4.8%. But because commissioners reversed course after listening to constituents. They approved the appropriation of $50,000 to find out the costs and details of installing underground electric utilities. It looks like voters also will be given the opportunity to approve or reject issuing bonds to finance such an undertaking.
Amazing. Sometimes elected officials do listen.
Finally, one of the best parts of the week occurred last Saturday when Longboat Key and Bradenton tennis legend Nick Bollettieri was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.
To a great extent, Bollettieri helped put Longboat Key on the international tennis map. With the vision and support of his former boss, Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber, Bollettieri helped Klauber create what the two of them wanted: the best tennis resort in America, the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort.
In the context of what’s happening in the rest of the world, it wasn’t just a good week. It was a great week on Longboat Key.
+ How Bollettieri came to LBK
It must have been Kismet. They were all meant for each other — Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber, Nick Bollettieri and the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort.
When Klauber was looking for a new tennis pro in 1974, the publisher of Tennis magazine, a fan of the Colony, called Klauber to tell him whom not to hire. Don’t hire Nick Bollettieri, he told Klauber.
A resort in the Virgin Islands had recently let Bollettieri go.
Klauber already had an interview scheduled. The publisher’s call made him all the more eager to meet and listen to his newest applicant.
Klauber says he told Bollettieri he wanted to make the Colony the No. 1 tennis resort in America. But Bollettieri would have to conform to a few rules:
• All-white uniforms, with Colony logos.
• Allowing women to start playing at 8 a.m. — unheard of in the tennis-club world then.
• Morning lessons for kids on Saturdays and Sundays, also unheard of.
• And proper dress on the beach. Klauber had heard that Bollettieri had been known for “sunning” himself on the beach.
One by one, Bollettieri agreed to all of Klauber’s stipulations.
We all know what happened. The Colony became world famous and No. 1; and Bollettieri became world famous — coach of 10 No. 1s.
Together, they put Longboat Key on the world map. The Colony became one of the homes of the Virginia Slims, the precursor to the Women’s Tennis Association. And Bollettieri, a longtime Longboat resident, parlayed his coaching at the Colony to founding his famous tennis academy in Bradenton.
“He was superb,” Klauber told us from Toronto this week. “I never had a harsh word or an unhappy word with him. He is one of the finest gentlemen I have known.”
+ St. Armands park: privatize
Sarasota city commissioners can expect a large, animated crowd Monday night at its monthly meeting at City Hall in downtown Sarasota.
St. Armands Circle forces are likely to be en masse.
It will be the first reading of a newly proposed special-events ordinance. And this could have big ramifications for St. Armands Circle Park — and especially the Circle’s business owners and landowners as well as the neighboring residents.
Over the past year, we have devoted much of this space to the subject of how events are managed and scheduled and who should have jurisdiction over both.
As many readers know, it’s a touchy subject. City Attorney Robert Fournier explained it this way last June in a memo to commissioners: “[It became increasingly apparent that the internal regulations and historical practices used to process and issue special event permits should be codified. This was especially important in order to eliminate internal inconsistencies and to build trust in the fairness of the process through codification of uniform standards and an appeal process.”
In other words, the city wanted to make sure it didn’t expose itself to lawsuits and accusations of playing favorites.
On the other side are the three primary constituents whose properties and lives are intimately affected by events in the park — residents, merchants and Circle landowners. Historically and collectively, they have had agreements and understandings with City Hall that gave them near control over what events, how many events and when events were scheduled.
On Monday, Fournier will unveil options for those rules. In the box above, we highlight some of the key provisions commissioners will be asked to decide.
While those provisions all seem reasonable, including the three-month blackout and prohibition on closing streets, St. Armands constituencies worry about the new rules opening the park to unsuitable events.
They worry, too, about a process that would allow any organization to reserve a park date a year in advance on a first-come, first-served sign-up system.
That’s fair, to be sure. Everyone would have an opportunity to secure a date.
In the same vein, if St. Armands constituencies objected to an event, they would have the opportunity to appeal the event’s approval. That’s fair, too.
But in the interest of fairness and consistency for City Hall, St. Armands interests will be ceding control — a worrisome proposition for business and landowners.
Some people will say that’s too bad. St. Armands Circle Park is a public park and shouldn’t have special exceptions and privileges.
It’s a conundrum, to be sure. But we have argued for and continue to argue for a choice that would solve all of this: privatization. Sell or lease the park to the St. Armands interests. The city has done that with Marina Jack and Mote Marine Laboratory. And it works.
Completing such a transaction would take months. But we urge city and St. Armands officials to focus on this with the intent of completing it no later than a year from now. It’s the best solution.
Meantime, as much as St. Armands interests dislike a new ordinance that would wrest control of the park from them, they should think about taking the path of least resistance. State your case. And work with haste to privatize the park.
Here are three key provisions likely to be in the proposed special-events ordinance governing St. Armands Circle and on which the City Commission must decide whether to adopt:
• No special events shall be held in St. Armands Circle Park during February, March and April.
• During the remainder of the year. no more than one special event shall be permitted in St. Armands Circle Park per weekend and no more than two special events shall be permitted in St. Armands Circle Park per month.
• No special event shall cause the closure of lanes of traffic on St. Armands Circle or shall re-direct traffic from its normal flow around the Circle.
• When an application for a special event in St. Armands Circle Park is filed with the city special event office, the special events office shall notify the St. Armands Residents Association, the St. Armands Circle Association, and the St. Armands Landowners Association by email that the application has been filed.
LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT
Dear Mr. President:
Maybe it’s time. Really, maybe it is.
Sir, it is really quite clear to all of us “folks” that you are unhappy. Especially unhappy with the requirements of your job — addressing the constant issues of national governance; helping our allies abroad deal with evil killers and tyrants; and working with Congress, especially those “ick” Republicans who don’t agree with you.
We get it. It can be a real pain being cooped up all week in your Oval Office having to talk to people like John Boehner or Benjamin Netanyahu.
So think about it: When most people find themselves “trapped” in jobs they hate, the answer is pretty simple: Quit.
So why not do yourself the favor?
Then you can play as much pool and stroll to as many ice-cream shops as you want without feeling “encumbered” and having to “do stuff” (your words, right?) for your country.
Make yourself happy. You have no idea how happy we would be, too — for you, of course.