Town attorney David Persson said the town opted to stay out of the sign business years ago for the same issue the town faces today: a Bay Isles Road sign dispute.
At its Monday, July 12 regular meeting, the commission heard from Public Works Director Juan Florensa, real-estate agent Andrew Vac, dentist Dr. Lawrence Kassouf and a couple of church officials.
All of them had a different opinion on how the Bay Isles Road sign, one of five wayfinding signs installed on public property as part of a $500,000 federal stimulus grant, should look, and all wanted a space on the sign that can only accommodate eight business and/or locations.
Florensa and Vac, who worked with Longboat Key, Lido Key, St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce President Tom Aposporos, presented sign options that included varying font sizes and organizing the spaces by alphabetical order.
The multiple suggestions confused commissioners, who had trouble figuring out which option the group recommended.
And then came the suggestions from the audience.
“There’s only one dentist on the Key and that’s me now,” said Kassouf. “I’m lobbying for a sign that says ‘Dentist.’”
All Angels by the Sea Episcopal Church representatives spoke next.
Bill Race, senior warden for All Angels, lobbied for an All Angels nameplate on both sides of the sign like All Angels had on a previous sign the town removed in June.
All Angels’ rector, the Rev. David Danner, said he would like to see the words “All Angels” on the sign instead of the full church name, but he wasn’t sure if his congregation would agree.
Commissioners also discussed why one side of the proposed sign had All Angels Episcopal Church in lower-case writing placed above a Temple Beth Israel sign in all capital letters.
When Temple Beth Israel Rabbi Jonathan Katz took to the podium, he suggested the town could use creative slogans on its other wayfinding signs that didn’t have businesses to fill all eight direction slats.
Katz’s suggestion for the wayfinding sign on the south end of the Key was: “Sand and surf: best on Earth.”
Further suggestions from Katz prompted someone in the audience to give her own suggestion: “Longboat Key is oil free!”
The multiple suggestions and tourism-campaign pitches prompted Mayor George Spoll to end the discussion.
“I think this is totally disorganized and it’s turning into a workshop agenda item,” Spoll said. “I think it needs to go back to the drawing board.”
Town Manager Bruce St. Denis told the commission the town would come back to the commission in September with more options, although he warned that what the town provides will not make everyone happy.
“We can either solve it and not everyone will be happy, or you can solve it and we can give you options,” said St. Denis.
The commission agreed it would be more satisfied with a confident recommendation from town staff.
“Give us the recommendation you want next time, because it’s ridiculous what we went through tonight,” said Commissioner David Brenner.
In the meantime, town staff received direction to finish the other four wayfinding signs this summer.
The town manager was also given direction to see if it’s possible to raise the height of the Bay Isles wayfinding sign to accommodate up to two extra slots.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].