Colony conditions still concern neighbors

 

Colony conditions still concern neighbors

 

Date: February 6, 2013
by: Robin Hartill | City Editor

 
 

 

 

The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort has gotten a makeover, at least from the vantage point of Gulf of Mexico Drive.

The unsightly potted palm tree is gone, along with the sign with its missing letters.

But neighbors, especially those who live at the Aquarius Club next door, have a different perspective.

Greg Van Howe, one of two vice presidents of the Aquarius Club’s board, said the Colony Association has made improvements, such as landscape and irrigation updates, and placing rodent traps around the property.

But the property’s condition continues to frustrate residents.

“The disrepair from the beach is continually getting worse,” said Van Howe, who walked the adjacent beach last week with Town Manager Dave Bullock and Commissioner Jack Duncan.

The canvas from the former pool area is tattered and can be seen blowing in the wind, according to Van Howe, and siding from beachfront units is visibly coming off the buildings. Broken windows are also visible from the beach.

“It’s amazing how many people who are walking the beach just stop and stare and start taking pictures,” Van Howe said. “My concern is that these are new people to Longboat Key and this is their introduction.”

In an email to Van Howe, Duncan wrote that he would continue to press for improvements in the Colony’s appearance.

“Looking at the Colony property from the beach certainly gave me a different perspective,” he wrote. “I agree with you. The Association has done a lot to improve the overall appearance of the Colony sight, when traveling along GMD. However, I, too, think more can be done to reduce the blight that one witnesses when walking along the beach behind Colony.”

Van Howe told the Longboat Observer about other concerns of Colony neighbors.

The buildings aren’t secured, and the stairways and stairwells still need repair, which causes residents to worry that their buildings could be damaged if Colony structures collapse during a storm.

Van Howe planned to meet with Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming Monday afternoon to discuss resident concerns.

According to Cumming, police increased patrols in the Colony after a string of break-ins occurred in early 2012.

“A lot of people are concerned about what the potential is,” he said, referring to concerns about vagrancy, vandalism and theft.

“We’re not really having the problems that we could be having, and I think that’s because of the marked presence,” Cumming said.

Approximately a half-dozen Aquarius Club residents spoke at commission meetings last fall, while others emailed commissioners, as the commission discussed whether to grant an extension of the property’s grandfathered tourism units. Residents urged commissioners not to grant a three-year extension.

The commission replaced a three-year extension of the deadline for re-opening the property that the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association sought and replaced it with a one-year extension that terminates Dec. 31, 2013. Commissioners offered a three-year extension to the owner of the property that can redevelop the entire 18-acre property, not just the 15 acres that the Association currently controls.

 

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