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Opinion
Longboat Key Wednesday, May 29, 2019 3 months ago

Letters to the editor: Cycling safety, building permit fees, the state of the town

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Key readers speak up.
by: Guest Writer
All of us can help with bike safety

The recent death of a bicyclist on Longboat Key highlights again the need for bicyclists and motorists to do whatever is possible to ensure the safety of all of us. It appears that the recent crash was both the fault of the bicyclist and the motorist who parked his cement truck in the bike lane. 

      However we parse the responsibility for the accident, it is clear that bicyclists must be fully attentive at all times, which means looking where they are going and being alert at all times, and it also means that motorists must respect the bike lane by not driving or parking in it.

Researching other recent bicycle accidents on Longboat, I have concluded that biker visibility is crucial to safety with cars running into bikers a common cause of accidents and injuries.

Measures to aid in visibility:

  • lights both front and rear
  • bright reflective clothing
  • reflectors and reflective tape
  • flags

     Along the same lines, not only should bikers be seen they should also be heard, so bells are essential to alerting pedestrians, other bikers and motorists of your presence.

Helmets, of course, should always be worn and they should be replaced every three to five years as they lose their energy absorbency over time. Storing helmets in cool places increases their life span.

Longboat bikers should also be aware that the Longboat Key police department will register your bike. All you need to do is bring your bike to the police department, fill out a simple form and they will place a registration tag on your bike. In the event your bike is lost or stolen and recovered, it can be returned to you. If you are injured in an accident, the registration will allow the police to contact your emergency contact. To join the Longboat Key Bicycle Association email Howard Tessler, association president, at [email protected]

Aaron Kleiner

Longboat Key

 

Building projects help propel the town

The assumption that town fees for building improvements should cover 100% of town employee costs is fallacious.

It ignores the fact that building improvements increase the ad valorem base for the property, which increases the town’s revenue.

Improvement projects should be considered an annuity for the town ... a stream of future income with no additional expense.

Let’s not have another revenue grab by government. A separate story in the Longboat Observer indicates an 18% increase in town revenue in five years. Maybe too much ‘feeding at the trough’?

Tim Clarke

Longboat Key

 

LBK’s depression is getting depressing

For the past 10-20 years, it seems property prices have been stagnant, hotel occupancy has declined, retail and restaurant business has diminished.

The black, hot, dirty, large-grained sand used to re-nourish the beach about 20-plus years ago destroyed our cool, white “sugar sand” seemingly forever.

A murder actually happened on our beloved island a few years ago.

To non-professional eyes, it appears that the home sales’ cycle is substantially greater than the rest of the state, leaving a staleness to the market. The property next to mine, with more than an acre and direct gulf-front, has been for sale at a reasonable price for more than seven years.

There are fewer opportunities for us homeowners to stay on the island. Cell service is still in the last millennium. Even Cairo, Egypt, has figured out how to disguise cell towers to look like palm trees.

Government departments have grown. Doctors have left. The Colony has been a blight for the better part of a decade. The Key Club, our anchor, has been stymied from investing more. It takes mountain moving to get permitting.

Your recent front page shows a top seller at $7.5 million. In Vero Beach, where I spent a recent weekend, that home would have sold for $17.5 million. That community is vibrant.

Part-time residents and owners here get over-taxed and under-represented. During season, traffic comes to a stand-still when trying to get off the island for a restaurant or shopping. And our commissioners are surprised that private dollars cannot be raised for an arts center?

Does a town of fewer than 10,000 need an arts center, when just a couple of miles away is booming Sarasota?

At least we have a new sign ordinance and an alleged Ponzi-type investment firm.

And the city of Sarasota is considering spending $100,000 of taxpayer money to study water taxi service, when simply issuing the permit will permit private operators to determine if there is a market for this service.

One could go on. But I often ask myself: What is the point?

The solution could be to recognize that nothing and nowhere stays the same.

Going back to places you visited 30 years ago is eye-opening. We are either green and growing, or ripe and rotting. Which do we want to be?

New Jersey is chock full of ocean-front properties that are blighted in rotten communities. Do we really want to go down that path?

We have the resources to be the greatest jewel in Florida. We used to be just that. We are the anti-Naples. We are a barrier island. We had great sand. We have great wildlife and clean waters and better weather than the mainland. We could be great again.

To full-timers, you may not recognize the decay. It has occurred slowly and over a long period.

As one who spends about 50 nights a year here, I am losing my enthusiasm for Longboat, despite owning and re-investing in our direct gulf-front house since the early 1990s. Depressing.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I hope the response is not, “love it or leave it,” because it is my love of our bit of paradise that prompts this letter.

I recommend we adapt and accept growth and change. Especially in developing properties. We all will be better off.

Mitchell Levin

Longboat Key

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