The Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside tennis facility isn’t being demolished any time soon.
Last week, Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Daigle sent a letter dated July 8 to resort Project Manager David Leach, explaining that 14 of 18 courts can’t be removed because they satisfy a recreational component of the club’s Gulf-planned development.
Planned developments, per town code, allow for design flexibility, for example, by clustering recreational amenities in a common area instead of requiring amenities at each development.
Daigle refers to a resolution that was adopted in June 1992, in which the club’s outline development plan (ODP) was amended to allow for the construction of Regent Place and Regent Court.
In short, the 18 Islandside courts met the recreational amenities necessary for the construction of both developments.
Daigle explained that amendments to the outline development plan would have to be made to change everything from court lighting to the fencing around the courts.
Key Club General Manager Michael Welly, who intended to turn the Islandside tennis pro shop into an Islandside Redevelopment Information Center, was surprised to hear the news.
“Only four of the 18 courts have been in use since May 18,” said Welly, who explained that even The Longboat Key Association, which owns and maintains Longboat Club Road, had urged the club to seed and landscape over the courts that were no longer in use.
But Daigle states in her letter that “seeding and landscaping on the existing tennis courts would remove their function as tennis facilities” and require an amendment.
The Islandside Property Owners Coalition, which opposes the club’s $400 million renovation plan as proposed, released a statement last month opposing plans for the tennis court removal and suggesting that club members were not informed of the demolition plans.
Key Club Attorney John Patterson, however, said that club members were informed of the plans more than a year ago, after plans were in place to build The Tennis Gardens at Harbourside.
“It came as a surprise to us that the town would consider the club an indentured servant for the condominiums behind the gates,” Patterson said. “We don’t agree with Ms. Daigle’s interpretation of the code.”
For now, plans to place a full-scale model of the resort’s renovation plan in the former tennis pro shop is on hold.