During the recent local political changes, some inaccurate statements were made about the Longboat Key Public Interest Committee (PIC). Apologies were made and accepted. Time to move on. Subsequently, Jim Brown, former mayor, in a recent column in The Sarasota Herald-Tribune weighed in with PIC’s penchant for bias toward all commercial activity. It might be a good time to let newcomers know and to remind long-timers about PIC, the Public Interest Committee.
When the post-World War II building boom reached our island, it appeared that Longboat Key would “build out” at about 70,000 residents and with all kinds of commercial stuff, both good and bad. That did not seem to be in the public interest of those who were living here or were to come after. Therefore, PIC and others fought long and hard to have codes put in place that should limit the “build out” to about 20,000 residents. The result, as you can see, is one of the world’s more wonderful places to be.
PIC is proud of its part in that result, but that does not require a blind eye, knee-jerk, I’m-in-lock-the-gate reaction to every proposal that may contain the word “development” or “commercial.” Certainly it is in the public interest to have a supermarket, pharmacy and a hardware store nearby. Perhaps it was in the public interest to have three gas stations instead of one. The point is that PIC is not for or against commerce or building projects that are within the codes, but is for the public’s interest.
PIC’s positions on these matters are not taken in some dark room. Membership is open to all, and meetings of members are routinely held and member views are regularly sought and considered. In addition, PIC holds public forums to which everyone is invited to express their views and ask questions on matters of public interest. Candidates for public office are invited to address the group. It is from all of those inputs that the PIC Board then announces a decision or a position.
It has been charged that an inordinate number of PIC members occupy elected and appointed town offices. Guilty as charged. But, this is not because of some Machiavellian plot to secretly take over the town. Individuals who care about the public interest have joined the Public Interest Committee through the years. Not surprisingly, those are also the same individuals who care enough about the public interest to run for public office and/or accept appointment to town boards. As a matter of policy, not of law, members of the commission and Planning and Zoning Board generally resign their board positions with PIC.
For more information on PIC, please visit our website at www.lbkpic.com.
Submitted by PIC Board of Directors; co-Presidents are Ann Roth and Gaele Barthold.
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