The image of the new sign startled David Novak two weeks ago as he drove through the Bay Isles South Gate to get to his Harbour Links home.
In bold, white letters, against a black marble background, it read: “Bay Isles South Gate.”
The sign had replaced the old one, which had the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s name and logo and didn’t feature the words “South Gate.”
“It’s very prison-like,” Novak said. “There’s the fact that it’s black and the fact that it says the word ‘gate’ so prominently.”
Novak e-mailed his neighbor, Ed Chew, about the sign, and described it as a “Longboat prison sign.”
“The sign leaves you cold,” Chew said. “It’s a very stark kind of sign.”
Novak and Chew aren’t the only ones who feel that way.
“My first reaction was that it looks like an industrial-site sign,” said Longboat Key Commissioner George Spoll, who is a voting representative for the Bay Isles Master Association.
“We all knew that the sign was going to say ‘South Gate’ and ‘Bay Isles’,” said Linda Federici, who is also a voting representative of the association. “What we didn’t know was that it was going to be so tacky.”
At a Bay Isles Master Association meeting Monday, Oct. 26, at least five voting representatives expressed their opposition to the sign, while two expressed support for it.
The Bay Isles Master Association board decided to replace the sign last spring, after Longboat Key Club and Resort General Manager Michael Welly approached the board about installing a new sign that didn’t have the Key Club’s name or logo on it. Welly was concerned, because people were attempting to get to the Key Club through the south gate instead of the main north-gate entrance.
The board tried to find pure-black marble to replace the sign, but was unable to find a large enough slab. Instead, the board got enough members together to reach a quorum for a summer phone meeting and voted to overlay the old sign with a thin layer of black marble.
So far, the board has refused to replace the new sign, which cost $8,000.
Welly has offered for the Key Club to pay half of replacement costs. Welly said that when he made the offer, a resident accused him of making the offer to use the new sign as a vessel to promote the Key Club’s proposed $400 million expansion project.
“I told them that if they supported the project, I’d pay for the whole sign,” Welly joked.
But Welly said he understands why opinions are running strong.
“It’s the entryway to your home,” he said.
Contact Robin Hartill at firstname.lastname@example.org
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