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Longboat Key Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2010 7 years ago

Commission plans its vision

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Dust off the town’s Vision Plan. Use it.

That was the theme of the Longboat Key Town Commission’s Thursday, April 8 goals-and-objectives workshop.

Gaele Barthold, co-president of the Longboat Key Public Interest Committee (PIC), started the Vision Plan discussion by announcing that PIC believes the plan can help the town move forward.

“PIC believes we have reached a point on this island that we must be looking forward,” Barthold said. “PIC believes it’s time to move forward to begin implementing the Vision Plan. We ask you to give the plan reasonable priority.”

Bay Isles Master Association President Dick Weber echoed the suggestion.

“We suggest the Vision Plan be used as a roadmap for the future to this town,” Weber said. “We embrace the 13 goals listed in the plan, and some should have high priority.”

Longboat Key Club General Manager Michael Welly and Positive Change for Longboat Key President Rick Crawford also took to the podium to urge support for the Vision Plan.

“I strongly encourage you to dust off your Vision Plan,” Welly said. “If it’s not current, make it current and get our community involved.”

Welly also said the island needs to do a better job of encouraging visitors to come to the area.

“The notion of moving to paradise and closing the door behind you is not unique to Longboaters,” Welly said. “But let’s not fear visitors, who are the future residents, taxpayers, voters and leaders of this community.”

Crawford, who encouraged the commission to take an active approach to attract professional businesses to the island, also urged the town to uses its Vision Plan to its advantage.

“We should work toward bringing baby boomers down here who will continue to need an office in a low-key setting,” Crawford said. “We would gain residents, as well as business owners, in a low-density building setting.”

Mayor George Spoll and other commissioners also showed support for Crawford’s business-plan idea.

“We need to attract people to Longboat Key, whether they are tourists, business types or some combination,” said Commissioner David Brenner, who helped create the Vision Plan during his three years on the Planning and Zoning Board. “It’s been more than two years since the Vision Plan was formed with the help of our citizens, and it needs to be reviewed.”

Brenner called for the commission to create an ad hoc committee that would review the plan this summer and present a refreshed plan to the commission in the fall.

Vice Mayor Jim Brown, who also worked on the Vision Plan as a planning board member, agreed.

“There are parts of the plan that need adjusting and addressed,” Brown said. “We need to do that because this is just a road map or a guide for the next 20 years.”

Town Manager Bruce St. Denis agreed to place discussion items on the May regular workshop agenda that will talk about implementing a Vision Plan committee and economic development opportunities for the Key.

Also at the meeting, various groups and organizations urged for improved medical-response times, improving town efficiencies, a dog park, a community center like Anna Maria’s and for the town to maintain its 35-foot building height requirement Key-wide.

Rating the Goals
The commission rated goals in order of importance on a scale of “A” to “C” at the goals-and-objectives workshop.

An “A” rating means a goal is a high priority and most likely will be included in the town’s annual budget, which will be crafted this summer. A “B” rating means it will require further requests by commissioners to be considered budget-worthy, and a “C” rating means it will be investigated further but will not be actively pursued as a main priority.

‘A’ goals
• Beach preservation
• Employee pension plans
• Bayfront Park/Albritton property improvements
• Sister Keys grass flats protection
• Gulf of Mexico Drive beautification
• Exploring all options for better telecommunications
• A school bus stop for the Village
• Implementation of the Vision Plan

Contact Kurt Schulteis at [email protected].

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