Longboat Key Club and Resort General Manager Michael Welly said that, faced with declining tax revenues, the town of Longboat Key has two choices.
“You can cut back,” Welly said. “Or, then, they can look for new revenue sources. I volunteer. I’ll be the new revenue source.”
Welly gave an opening presentation Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the Key Club’s Islandside Redevelopment Plan Town Hall. He discussed the specifics of the project, including its impact on traffic, views of nearby condominiums and the local economy.
Following Welly’s presentation, Tom Aposporos, president of the Longboat Key, Lido Key, St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce, moderated a panel discussion featuring Key supporters of the project.
Panelist Ed Chiles, owner of Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, described the Key Club as a “tremendous engine for our community.” Chiles discussed businesses on Longboat Key that have closed in recent years, in part, due to the lack of tourist business. He pointed to the fact that 88% of voters approved a March 2008 referenda allowing for an additional 250 tourism units.
“People in Longboat don’t like blight, and that started motivating people,” Chiles said.
Carole Nikla, who sold group reservations for 16 years at the former Longboat Key Holiday Inn, said that Longboat Key would benefit from the proposed meeting space, because groups book year-round, often six months to three years in advance.
“The first thing they do when they check in is go to the concierge and find out where to eat and where to shop and where to play golf,” Nikla said.
Longboat Key residents Vince De Lisi, Terry Gans and Bill Kary spoke on the panel in favor of the Key Club’s plans.
Kary expressed hope that the plans could restore Longboat Key’s image to what it was when he first visited the island in the late 1980s.
“Longboat Key had an image that was second to none,” he said. “Longboat Key was the place to be, own and buy.”
Contact Robin Hartill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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In its Sept. 18 issue, the Longboat Observer featured Plymouth Harbor resident George Heitler, a lifelong tennis player who has played tennis for most of his 99 years and is a regular at the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center.