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Longboat Key Wednesday, May. 14, 2014 3 years ago

Villagers seek peaceful meetings in the future

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Longbeach Village Association has always hosted neighborhood meetings in a potluck setting, with attendees holding a glass of wine or a beer in hand.

But the association wants to put a stop to more controversial debates that occurred this past season at those meetings.

Association President Michael Drake informed approximately 30 Villagers in attendance at the final meeting of the season that the association will revert back to its roots.

“We’re an association that gets together to inform residents in a casual setting about what’s happening in the community,” Drake said. “That’s what this group is about and what it should stay about.”

Drake made the announcement after some contentious association meetings occurred this season, including a February meeting in which residents discussed the closing of alleys and opening of waterways. Drake called it “the worst meeting ever” and said it “pitted neighbor against neighbor.”

Villagers, though, will have another forum to vet controversial issues in the future.

A group called Save the Longbeach Village, which formed in summer 2013 to oppose Ed Chiles’ plans to increase the number of seats, add a second-story tree house restaurant area and open a meeting space in the historic Rufus P. Jordan house at Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, will become active once again to discuss various issues.

“We would like to keep the group alive and well that fought against Mar Vista,” said Village resident and Save the Longbeach Village organizer Carla Rowan.

While talk of bay accesses and alley closures has subsided, an issue that Villagers say still exists is parking problems from restaurant crowds. It will be a topic for Save the Longbeach Village this fall.

Village residents submitted a list of parking problems to the town in March, including residents not being able to park in front of their homes due to demand for parking spaces during peak season.

Town staff is studying the parking issue in the Village and will come back with parking recommendations this fall.

The mission of Save the Longbeach Village, Rowan said, “is to preserve the character and historic aspects of Longbeach Village.”

“The goal is to prevent excessive commercial development in a primary residential neighborhood,” Rowan said.

Rowan said other restaurant concerns include serving patrons waiting for tables, drinks and food in outdoor chairs that aren’t legally allowed.

“We will keep an ear on Town Hall 12 months a year now, not just in season,” Rowan said.
Villagers supported the announcement.

“I hope going forward the association doesn’t take positions on these political issues,” said Village Association Secretary Carol Weiss. “We need to pound away on neutrality.”

Drake reiterated that the association will still bring up issues that affect residents at meetings.

“You can still come here and get information, but we won’t take stances and debate it here,” Drake said.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]


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