Island residents sound off on key issues.
Lights and cell service can work
As recent snowbirds from Niagara-on-the-Lake, a historic and original town in Ontario, which is now a World Heritage Site, we have some experience of high-light faux pas to share.
Andres Duany, the renowned architect who designed the Florida town of Seaside, has studied and recommended that street lights should be 15-20 feet in height, to shine light on the ground to maximum affect, and not in the eyes of a driver. Despite this knowledge, the Niagara region erected 45-foot high LED lights on our main roads in to the town. They lowered the cost and sabotaged the ambiance.
The argument that cell towers drive the need for 45-foot poles can be contradicted by erecting the new artificial palms or by placing them on top of flagpoles.
Longboat Key is precious and evolving in the right way. We hope it continues.
Hamish and Leslie Kerr
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and Longboat Key
No one likes speed tables in the road
I am personally opposed to the decision of the Bay Isles Board of Directors to build obstacles, known as speed tables, across our large community’s main thoroughfare, Harbourside Drive. Certainly there are a few drivers who speed regularly and who need to be slowed down. But most current studies that I have read indicate that speed tables do little to reduce speed and do a lot to inconvenience and obstruct the rule-following drivers who do not speed. More importantly, speed tables, also called “deflection devices,” create even greater delays to emergency vehicles.
It is very disappointing that the nine guys on the Bay Isles Board of Directors decided to move forward with this material alteration to a common element of our community with little or no notice to the owners of the over 1,500 properties in the Bay Isles Association. Our neighborhood HOA, which shares the same management as the Bay Isles Association, was told at our meeting in late November that the Bay Isles HOA had decided on movable speed monitoring devices to control speeding. But in January, the Bay Isles Board of Directors abruptly changed course and voted to build speed tables on our main artery. The first one was installed this week. That is the first time most people in our community found out about the plan. I haven’t heard anyone say, “Oh good, a speed table!” Most of what I hear about the speed table is not re-printable in a community publication.
Most communities in Florida, including Sarasota, require a super-majority vote by community residents before speed tables can be installed. But in Bay Isles apparently only simple a majority of nine votes (the Board of Directors) is required to decide to build something that impacts all residents’ property values and personal safety — and which all the residents must pay for. I agree with the opinions expressed in the Wall Street Journal by Christopher LeGras in January of this year: “It’s noble to want to make America’s streets as safe as they can be. But government officials shouldn’t impose projects on communities that don’t work, inconvenience residents, hurt businesses and impede emergency responders in the process.”
Cynthia M. Craig
President, Sabal Cove Homeowners Association
Improved traffic flow at what cost?
As longtime residents of Longboat Key, the roundabout under consideration to replace the traffic light at Longboat Club Road and Gulf of Mexico Drive at the south end of the Key raises grave safety concerns. According to the consultants hired by the Township: “A roundabout would increase traffic flow by up to 30% because cars would not be stopped at a red light.”
Installation of a roundabout at this busy intersection will significantly decrease the gaps in traffic flow essential for the residents, visitors and contractors of Tangerine Bay Club, Bay Harbour and Country Club Shores, as well as customers of businesses such as Dry Dock Restaurant, the Mobil Gas Station, and Michael Saunders, to safely turn left onto or off of Gulf of Mexico Drive. Currently, during season and peak hours, a left turn exit from Tangerine Bay Club involves a wait for a gap in the northbound traffic and then a harrowing and dangerous turn into the center turn lane to wait for a kind soul to let one into the traffic flow. We invite the commissioners and their consultants to visit TBC during one of these times to experience this situation. A roundabout would make egress or entry at times almost impossible.
The second serious safety concern is that the traffic light at the intersection of Gulf of Mexico Drive and Longboat Club Road is the only pedestrian and cyclist crossing point at the south end of the Key. It is where pedestrians and cyclists cross to and from the Longboat Key Club, the New Pass bridge, the SCAT bus stop and, of course, Tangerine Bay Club and other residences and businesses on the east side of Gulf of Mexico Drive. If a traffic circle is built at this intersection, we believe that, without some form of traffic stoppage, the safety of the many individuals attempting to cross on foot or on a bicycle would be in jeopardy.
We agree that better traffic flow on Longboat Key is desirable, but it must not come at the expense of the safety of the residents, visitors, customers and service providers of those who live or do business on the bay side of Gulf of Mexico Drive. And, we Longboaters realize that a significant problem with traffic on the Key is not Longboat Key itself, but rather the traffic congestion created by St. Armands Circle and the intersection of U.S. 41 and [State Road] 789 in Sarasota. Rather than installing roundabouts, we suggest more focus on better turning lanes on Gulf of Mexico Drive on Longboat Key, an automated pedestrian detection system at the south end, and serious conversations with the city of Sarasota about improving egress from the barrier islands.
Tangerine Bay Board of Directors