+ We want to attract new owners and visitors
We bought our property about 20 years ago just when Arvida was just transitioning out. We decided on Longboat Key largely because of the Longboat Key Club (we are golfers), but also because of the amenities on the Key, including the many restaurants, Avenue of the Flowers, St. Armand’s Circle, not to mention the beauty of Longboat Key.
While the beauty remains, much has changed in these 20 years. We hear that The Colony is gone, as are many of the shops at Avenue of the Flowers, along with the fine retailers and restaurants on the Circle and on Longboat Key. As the Key has changed, so has the club changed from our first visit 20 years ago. The Islandside facilities are shabby and outdated, the golf course badly needs redesign and, in our opinion, it is no longer a first-class resort destination.
Even though our time on Longboat Key is still measured in weeks rather than months, we applaud the Key Club for recognizing the need for revitalization and for being able to put together a fully funded, regulatory compliant package to execute its plans.
What’s wrong with this proposal? Don’t we want to attract new visitors/owners to revitalize and energize our community? We sure think that the proposal is timely, appropriate and is a win-win for all! For those who oppose these plans, ask yourselves what attracted you to Longboat Key initially and, if you were to choose today from all that is available, would you choose Longboat Key again?
+ What effect will the project have on taxpayers?
Please consider a short letter concerning the ongoing Longboat Key Club controversy. To date, discussions seem to center on whether the club can expand upon its own property. It should be made blatantly clear to all that, in this country, private property is still reasonably private provided the use thereof remains within legal zoning bounds. In my opinion as a common taxpayer, I believe they should be allowed to build just about anything desired as long as it falls within legal bounds and any additional costs, such as increased public utilities, don’t end up on the shoulders of the taxpayers.
Attendant to this is another consideration thus far not surfaced and one that usually doesn’t surface until after the fact. That is what the effect, if any, the desired expansion will have upon the taxpayers, either up front or down the way. Have our leaders considered the impact of hundreds of additional living sites each with two or more bathrooms, washers, etc., adding a further drain upon existing supplies? What about the possibility that existing supply methods may be taxed beyond capacity, necessitating expensive replacements? Would the costs involved end up on the shoulders of the taxpayers?
What it boils down to in my mind is for government to insure that any required outside facilities are adequate and in place prior to even considering additional usage and that the Key Club places money in escrow to cover the costs thereof. The point is that the taxpayers should not foot any part of the bill for increasing facilities needed by such a non-public project.
That done, we taxpayers should have no complaints except possibly the added traffic concerns, which already holds traffic to 35 mph during winter season. I hope the powers that be take these comments seriously before opening another Pandora’s box.
Rolland S. Freeman
+ Key Club should listen to associations’ opinions
My wife and I are proud owners of a condo within the gated community of various associations, single-family homes and the Longboat Key Club and Resort, the environment which would be considered by most a highly valued and unique treasure. Our well maintained residences range from modest to affluent choice properties, certainly valued neighbors in some respects.
We also support economic development, especially during these difficult times, fully recognizing there will be inconvenience during the construction period. You would expect that a project of this magnitude would be led by smart entrepreneurs who would manage and stage the activities to minimize disruptions to all residents and guests within the area. This project should bring considerable value added as a major new asset, not just to Longboat Key, but to Sarasota and the greater economic vicinity.
While these observations may be obvious to some, there are many of us unaware of what goes on behind the scenes. What we are against is a stacked deck of dealings, meaning lack of a sought after input of members of the associations behind the gate, as valued members of a family. Thus, the coalition input should be respected. Most of the written opinions and conduct of hearings are abbreviated transcripts of reality. It appears that the attorneys for the process are the ultimate winners. We are not against an equitable burden of legal fees, but these should be limited to satisfying the required administrative process to comply with the law rather than the accommodation of bantering of a disruptive threatening mode and agenda.
If the associations were considered by Loeb Partners Realty, a family-owned company, to be members of its family and community in Longboat Key, you may imagine that it would openly search for ways to adjust the attitude of those in dissent to enhance its investment. As one suggestion, it could offer a concession and amenity of a special discounted golf and social membership for all owners behind the gate at the new world-renowned destination enterprise.
Tom and Mary Parris
+ The taxpayers are funding costly hearing performance
I have attended many a Planning Board meeting with my husband and was attracted to the last hearing at the temple, dealing with the Longboat Key Club’s proposed expansion program.
While the board, together with its attorneys and consultants, was dealing endlessly with non-planning functions and sparring endlessly with matters clearly within the province of only the Town Commissioners, a battery of proponent and opponent lawyers (at $500 an hour) were silently watching the tournament.
But we, the taxpayers, are funding all of this costly performance.
We club members have been held hostage by the fact that we are committed to this club, because it is the only game in town, and we are too old to start new lives elsewhere. And the courses are sinking into calculated neglect.
And this circus goes on and on. Yet all of this, even to Arvida and its attorneys, is a meaningless exercise, because, if there are development rights to this land, they are still legally vested in Arvida — and not the Key Club. The deed is specific in this matter.
This truly represents a local implementation of a "stimulus program." But the only beneficiaries are the lawyers.
Planners: Please advise the applicant to conform to Longboat Key’s rules and regulations and send them to the Town Commissioners. Stop this circus and give the taxpayers a break.
I get this strange feeling that we are galley slaves on this cruise and are even being asked to tip the whippers.
+ Key Club project would benefit others as well
It is difficult for me to believe that while we are trying to work through the most difficult times that most of us ever faced, we are objecting to a real company with real money and real experience that wants to spend $450,000,000 to upgrade and expand its facilities at the Longboat Key Club. Yet I hear nonsense such as “too much traffic” or “my views will possibly be blocked.”
Even if it were so, and it is definitely not, because I use Gulf of Mexico Drive almost daily and sometimes I feel all alone.
And don’t these objectors have any feelings for the construction workers and building supply companies who would get jobs again? I visited with Dan Dunn, head of All Faiths Food Bank recently at its new facility, and he pointed out construction workers who were bringing in cans of food for the needy only 18 months ago and are now coming in for the cans so their kids won’t go to bed hungry.
Let’s think of our fellow man instead of having to wait at the New Pass Bridge an extra few seconds, possibly.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a happy member of the Key Club for some 10 years as well as honorary commodore of Longboat Key Club Moorings Marina. Not once did they say anything they did not do.
Under the current administration of the Key Club, the place has become more magical than ever with a beautiful restaurant and a magnificent tennis complex that any community would die for to have in its midst.
I do hope the objectors don’t want the kind of company that made The Colony what it looks like today. And I suggest a walk down Main Street to see all the “For Rent” signs as well as seeing them in the office complexes surrounding our community.
Finally, if anyone wishes, I would be delighted to have them as my luncheon guests at the Key Club or the Moorings and point out how I feel. But, please, do not delay too long. Come this Feb. 19 it will be 65 years ago that I and my fellow combat Marines landed on the shores of Iwo Jima, so I don’t know how much time I have left.
+ We hope commissioners can see past myopia in Utopia
We’ve been residents of Longboat Key for 30 years and for more than 40 years in Oak Brook, Ill. You may know that Oak Brook is home to the international headquarters of McDonald’s corporation.
In the 1970s McDonald’s proposed the development of Hamburger University on a beautifully wooded, 80-acre parcel in Oak Brook. Many village residents opposed the project on the mistaken belief that ancient oaks would be cut down, a pristine stream would be contaminated and traffic congestion would ensue. Battle lines were drawn, legal fund solicited and misinformation was rampant. In the end, the zoning board and the village trustees approved Hamburger University, and what a wise decision it was.
The oaks still stand, the waters run clear, the Hamburger University buildings blend beautifully into the landscape and traffic in the immediate area is a non-issue. McDonald’s is a special corporate neighbor contributing to lower real-estate taxes, increased property values, sports fields, charities and additional business for the community.
McDonald’s trainees from all over the world attend Hamburger University just as a first-class Longboat Key Club would create much needed additional exposure and economic benefits for our island.
Although the McDonald’s and Longboat Key Club issues are of a different time and place, there are some comparisons. We hope that our zoning board and town commissioners are having the foresight to see past myopia in Utopia.
Elaine and Burt Herman
+ Longboat Key Club project is crucial to our future
I am not going to assert that the scope and scale of the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s current proposed redevelopment plan should not be subject to adjustment. There is always room for rational, “good-faith” negotiations with large development projects.
However, I am going to assert strongly that approval of a reasonably sized, economically viable redevelopment plan for the Longboat Key Club is absolutely crucial to maintain the vitality, desirability and economic health of Longboat Key and preserve and enhance the value of the Key’s residential properties.
As a condo owner in her 70s, I know I will not live forever. At some point, my beautiful condo will have to be sold by my executors. If wealthy, high-class visitors do not come to Longboat Key to discover what it’s like to live in our version of “Paradise,” there will be no suitable buyers available to buy our condos.
What will bring such wealthy, high-potential buyers to Longboat Key? A first-class destination resort with meeting facilities and beautiful accommodations, as well as a top tennis complex and golf courses. In fact, we view the handsome new tennis complex as the example, par excellence, of what the club will look like when the redevelopment is completed.
Yes, there undoubtedly will be some near-term inconvenience and, conceivably, some increased traffic in high season. However, we view these inconveniences as necessary for achieving a much greater goal: the continued desirability of Longboat Key as a place where upscale people from all across the country will want to buy elegant homes and spend their retirement years.
The best way to get these people here in the first place is to redevelop the Longboat Key Club into a world-class resort that wins awards and attracts the kind of people who will appreciate what Longboat Key has to offer. I have never heard any member of the opposition suggest an alternative plan for attracting the visitors that will keep our beautiful island vital and prosperous.
Rosalie Y. Goldberg
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Hat's off to Dee Pelton, volunteers
Dee Pelton held a luncheon that will be tough to top.
Youth sailors descend on City Island
Approximately 250 people hit the water Saturday, April 20 through Sunday, April 21, for Sailfest. The regatta, Sarasota Youth Sailing's biggest fundraiser of the year, included four classes of competition — Optimus, 420, Laser and Multi-hull — and a barbecue feast.
Book club sunsets for the season
The Sunset Beach Book Club, in its 10th year, ended this season with a luncheon and discussion of the book “Gone Girl,” by Gillian Flynn, April 18, at Lazy Lobster. Discussion moderator was Ricki Carroll. Together, the group read five books this season.