For Longboat Key town commissioners and Planning and Zoning Board members, Washington, D.C.,-based The Urban Land Institute (ULI) was like a date with whom they flirted but never took seriously, only to regret later that they may have lost their perfect match.
Fortunately for them, they may get a second chance.
At the Longboat Key Town Commission’s Tuesday, Feb. 19 regular workshop, ULI made a presentation about how it would help consult the town throughout its code-change process.
It’s the second time ULI made a presentation. In February 2012, the firm pitched a proposal to organize a five-day panel of various professionals for a similar project, at a cost of $125,000. But in April, the commission rejected the proposal and directed town staff to search for a community consultant.
What a difference a year makes.
The town put out request for proposals in May to find a consultant to help the town through an analysis and an objective review of existing town conditions. But, even after a committee was formed to produce a recommendation, the commission agreed in January neither company that came forward was the right fit for the job.
That’s when the commission decided to give ULI another look.
The commission and the planning board unanimously agreed to allow Town Manager Dave Bullock to work on a possible contract with ULI.
Tom Eitler, vice president of Advisory Services for ULI, told commissioners his company is willing to work with the town to form five-day panels made up of eight to 10 participants on each panel. Each panel will host a broad range of Key residents and community stakeholders. It would take two-and-a-half to three months to organize the panels. And the town would want to hold the panels starting in the fall through season, when most residents are here to participate.
The future town-hired consultant will look at all aspects of the community and hold no less than 10 community meetings to discuss everything about the island, including its residential and tourism aspects.
“We are not here to rewrite your codes but to provide you with strategic advice to do that,” Eitler said.
Eitler assuaged Commissioner Pat Zunz’s concerns about whether ULI can help the town work through matters such as how to make a 250 tourism-unit allocation process work more smoothly.
“If you ask us specific questions, we have the right people who can help answer the questions,” Eitler said.
Eitler also said ULI can help the town assess what is the right balance of residential, tourism and commercial for the Key.
Commissioner Jack Duncan said the town has “unique baggage” that ULI would have to help the town sift through.
“The most difficult element is implementation because Longboat Key argues about everything,” Duncan said.
Urban Land Institute Mission
The mission of the Urban Land Institute is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.