Not every commissioner is happy with the work performed by a subcommittee to update the town of Longboat Key’s Vision Plan.
Commissioner Robert Siekmann, a retired advertising executive, told subcommittee Chairwoman Pat Zunz and the rest of the Town Commission at its Thursday, Sept. 23 regular workshop that he thought the revised document lacked focus.
“When I finished reading my copy, my first reaction was, ‘What is the vision?’” Siekmann said. “I would suggest there is not a clear, concise vision in 50 words or less.”
Siekmann also believed no one would be willing to read the 21-page document.
But the rest of the commission and Zunz didn’t agree with Siekmann’s assessment.
“I think it’s apparent in the first couple of pages that the vision is we believe tourism and commercial components are important to keep,” Zunz said. “In the past, the goal was to convert everything to condominiums. But we don’t believe the Key will survive if that continues to happen.”
Commissioner David Brenner agreed.
“If you’re looking for an executive summary, the first paragraph alone sets the vision,” Brenner said.
And Zunz said the second paragraph lists the plan’s core values.
“I don’t know if it’s 25 words or less, but I don’t know how much plainer it can be,” Zunz said.
Vice Mayor Jim Brown attempted to diffuse the differences of opinion.
“You are either for the vision plan or you are not at this point,” Brown said. “But I believe the community supported it and it has to move forward.”
But Siekmann took offense to Brown’s comments.
“I believe the vice mayor has said because I ask questions, I am not a supporter of the vision plan,” Siekmann said. “I am on record as a supporter of the vision plan from the very beginning, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything that’s in here.”
Siekmann’s concerns were not addressed, though, and a conversation ensued on what’s next for the vision plan.
“I’m very concerned because I don’t want the vision plan put on a shelf like it was a few years ago,” Larson said. “I would like to move forward with a date to arrange a town hall meeting.”
There was a consensus to plan a public hearing in November, where residents, the commission and the Planning and Zoning Board can discuss the new document.
But Siekmann, however, questioned if a meeting will be helpful to Key residents.
“No one is going to read past page two of this document,” Siekmann said. “There’s no need to explain it.”
Brenner jumped in to again defend the document.
“If someone isn’t going to read four pages, they aren’t going to read two sentences,” Brenner said. “I think you are demeaning the quality of our property owners with statements like that.”
Zunz defended the new plan as well.
“I don’t understand why this is so difficult for you (Siekmann),” Zunz said. “We spent 10 weeks on this and if it’s too much for people to read, I don’t know where we are.”
The town’s Vision Plan Subcommittee made the following recommendations to the Town Commission when it presented its revised document Thursday, Set. 23. The subcommittee:
• Urges the commission to begin amending its Comprehensive Plan immediately.
• Suggests the subcommittee be a standing town committee that can periodically monitor the progress of the plan.
• Recommends replacing the commission’s annual goals and objectives workshop with an annual vision plan review meeting.
• Recommends periodic surveys be distributed to residents and business owners to attain feedback on vision plan goals and action items.
• Recommends that the vision plan receive a web page dedicated to the vision plan.
• Recommends the creation of a beautification committee to coordinate a beautification plan for Gulf of Mexico Drive that will include more uniform plantings along the thoroughfare.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].