Sarasota city commissioner from 1993 to 2001; served as mayor from 1996 to 1997 and from 1999 to 2000
Then: “The commission thought we had a transportation problem and an environmental problem. The tallest boats in the city wouldn’t fit through even a 65-foot bridge. We thought they were building a bridge that wouldn’t fit all of those parameters. At the same time, we knew we might lose this fight, and if we did and got a high replacement bridge, we wanted it to be a signature bridge.”
Now: “I guess the bottom line is, it’s a gorgeous bridge. Do I resent it? No. It’s probably been a better recreational resource than we ever could have imagined … I still would prefer a lower bridge, but I don’t hear people complaining about it.”
Sarasota city commissioner from 1985 to 1991; current executive director of the Argus Foundation
Then: “I never thought the fight should have been out there. I thought the whole thing was a waste of time.”
Now: “It’s like night and day. It’s a huge improvement. With the way it’s configured and the lighting, it’s a Sarasota landmark, just like the Van Wezel.”
Co-chairman of the Good Bridge 2000 Committee; current chairman of the St. Armands Business Improvement District
Then: “From the standpoint of the city itself, no pun intended, it was the bridge between the 21st and the 20th century.”
Now: “The bridge itself is a 10. The traffic coming off the bridge (onto U.S. 41) could have been better. They may have been able to make a circle and done it in a way that it wouldn’t cause a backup. The lights do create a backup.”
Founder and co-chairman of the Good Bridge 2000 Committee, Sarasota city Commissioner from 1964 to 1968
Then: “The 45-foot bridge would have been a health hazard and a traffic hazard.”
Now: “The bridge is almost a decade old and nobody in town will say anything against it, so I guess our efforts were a success.”
Supporter of the Good Bridge 2000 Committee; architect and co-owner of the Parker Walter Group who was developing the Phoenix condominium that overlooks the bridge at the time of the controversy
Then: “We built a model of the bridge, and we knew what this view was going to look like and it’s pretty good and the bridge doesn’t fill up the whole view. It’s just a part of the view, so we thought it was a pretty nice enhancement.”
Now: “We’ve been around the world and we come home and we look out of our window and it’s like, ‘And why did we go there?’”
Longboat Key town commissioner from 1997 to 2004; served as the town’s mayor in 2002 and 2003
Then: “We were in favor of it, so we didn’t have to stop for openings and closings.”
Now: “It’s done wonders for the commerce of the city. It’s a really beautiful icon for the city of Sarasota.”
Spokesman for the Bridge Too High Committee; current executive director of Key Chorale
Then: “Our position at the time was not well understood. The first thing is still the case, that it wouldn’t solve the traffic problems of people coming south off of Longboat Key. We didn’t think it made sense to spend an enormous amount of money on something that didn’t solve the problem. The second thing was our objection to the original design. It was a series of box girders, and we thought that was a shame.”
Now: “Though we got a good-looking bridge and we do not in any way dismiss that, it doesn’t solve the problem that was the focus of the original discussion.”
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- Exactly how much money was wasted in the courts?
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