Same speech. Different tone.
With less than a week to go before the town’s Planning and Zoning Board hears the merits of The Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside application, Key Club General Manager Michael Welly has been hitting the streets to tell residents, club members, local organizations and business owners how important the project is to the vitality of Longboat Key and the surrounding area.
Last Wednesday at the Inn on the Beach, Welly had a sense of urgency as he spoke for 20 minutes to a group of approximately 65 people that included members of the Federation of Longboat Key Condominium Association.
Welly said the $400 million project, which calls for 196 hotel units on seven floors; 132 golf club condos on seven floors; and 10 villas in two buildings near New Pass, would be an economic stimulus to the local area that would pump $1.2 billion into the local economy.
The bottom line, Welly said, is the project is needed, because Longboat Key “is at a critical tipping point.”
“The town of Longboat Key has had budget shortfalls and property values have dropped for the past two years,” Welly said. “Our proposal is a no-strings-attached investment that will provide jobs to the area and will attract travelers and homebuyers.”
When asked why Welly was promoting this project, Welly said, “It’s my job to look over this property as an investment and allow it to survive.”
Welly said the club is aging and that fresh coats of paint on existing buildings will not attract new members.
The general manager also addressed concerns from the project’s detractors.
The 17,000 square feet of meeting space available for the project, Welly said, is crucial to the success of the new five-star hotel, which will make up 70% of the hotel’s business.
Welly also said that the club has the legal right to ask for amendments to the club’s Outline Development
Plan, just like applicants for the condominiums behind club gates.
And views won’t be affected to existing residences, Welly said, because the project sits more than 1,000 feet away from the closest existing residence.
The construction permits alone for the project, Welly said, will pay the town $6 million during the construction process.
“Over the next few months, there will be a lot of town hearings for our project,” said Welly, who urged people to attend the Planning and Zoning Board’s public hearings at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, and
Thursday, Oct. 22, at Temple Beth Israel, 567 Bay Isles Road. “It’s important for you to attend these meetings, reach out and voice your opinion,” he said.
Rick Crawford, who, along with his wife, Marsha, founded a coalition in support of the project called Positive Change for LBK, also urged those in attendance to make their voices heard.
“This project has so many positive factors to the community that should not be overlooked,” Crawford said.
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A fitting tribute
A day after receiving an Ageless Creativity Award from the Ringling College/Longboat Key Center for the Arts in honor of their late father, Ed Brickman, daughter Carol Diamant and son Eli Brickman held a celebration of life service Saturday.
Alma mater honors Harold Ronson
Philadelphia University presented Longboat Key resident Harold Ronson with its “Leadership in Philanthropy” award Oct. 11, at its Homecoming Dinner Dance.