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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2021 2 months ago

Ed Zunz discusses having to resign early, tenure on Town Commission

Since March 2016, Ed Zunz has served as a Longboat Key town commissioner.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Longboat Key Commissioner Ed Zunz said he regrets having to resign early from his District 5 seat, but it’s required once he officially moves from the district.

Zunz, 85, is moving from a home in the Longbeach Village neighborhood to a condo just a few hundred yards from the District 5 boundary.

“You hate to not finish something that you committed to and got started on,” Zunz said. “I would like to have finished my term. It just was not feasible under the circumstances.”

Zunz took his commission seat in March 2016 and was vice mayor from March 2018-March 2020. Before Zunz’s tenure on the Town Commission, his wife Pat served as the District 5 commissioner.

As a resident of the Village and a commissioner, Zunz had to navigate the line between doing what was best for his neighborhood and the island as a whole. Zunz was involved in helping the Village begin its resident-permit parking program at the start of 2021. The town designed it to mitigate the neighborhood’s parking problems.

“Something had to be done and we tried various, lesser measures and in terms of traffic and speed and things like that, but we finally had to do this,” Zunz said.

In spring 2019, the commission lowered the speed limit from 25 mph to 20 mph. The town also increased its illegal parking fines from $30 to $75 in December 2020.

Zunz was also a proponent of increasing the number of pickleball courts at Bayfront Park from two to four. Making the adjustment meant having to decrease the size of the basketball court.

 “The basketball court [was] so oversized for our needs,'' he said. "It was like Madison Square Garden with full-court basketball.

“I said, ‘I don’t think there’s going to be too much full-court basketball demand in Longboat Key.’”

Zunz said he believed there was an opportunity for the town to approve funding to develop solar panels as part of the rebuilding of the south-side fire station and the renovations of the north-side station.

“I thought…we should have solar panels put in both buildings and sort of lead the way in the community, and then maybe even spread it to eventually to Town Hall and to the Public Works building, but I was not successful in getting that done,” Zunz said.

Zunz said the south-side fire station is getting built in a way that could allow for future installation of  solar panels.

“The money just didn’t seem to be there to do it at the present time, so I was disappointed that we couldn’t sort of lead the way on something like that, which I thought was in the public interest,” Zunz said.

While there are plans to add a roundabout at Gulf of Mexico Drive and Broadway, Zunz said he feels strongly it should happen sooner rather than later. He said he was surprised more accidents don’t happen at the intersection.

“It’s a rough intersection,” Zunz said. “When you come out of Broadway, it’s a pretty hard left turn because the cars coming both north and south are coming around the bend, and they tend to be moving 45 mph.”

Zunz also mentioned the difficulty of pedestrians trying to cross the street at the intersection to go to the beach.

“You are some older people from the Village area, who want to go to the water,” Zunz said. “Some of them are older people, not moving quickly as they might, so it’s a dangerous crossing, and sometimes they have children or grandchildren, and that’s not a good situation.”

Zunz expressed his appreciation of town staff, commissioners and department heads.

“I would like people to be aware of how fortunate they are to have the government in place that we have,” Zunz said.

Once Zunz finishes his move, he said he’d consider the possibility of trying to rejoin the Zoning Board of Adjustment. He was a member from 2010-2011.

Zunz said he would also consider joining the Planning and Zoning Board, which will have at least three vacancies to fill.

“At the moment, I just have so many things going on,” Zunz said. “We’ve lived here for 26 years, and it’s just, you have no idea the things you accumulate.”

Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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