Chatting with the commissioners-elect.
Ed Zunz, the town's vice mayor from District 5, served a term on the Planning & Zoning Board and ran for Commission for the first time in 2015, succeeding his wife, Pat. He retired as a litigation attorney/senior partner of the Newark, N.J.-based Riker Danzig law firm. He joined the firm in 1961, becoming a senior partner as the firm grew to more than 160 lawyers when he retired in 2000. He recently sat down with Managing Editor Eric Garwood.
What do you want the town to look like in 10 years? I read the response from BJ Bishop, and I concur. I would add a study of the possible improvement, relocation or elimination of some of the smaller commercial areas, particularly those that are struggling or have a negative impact on surrounding residential areas. David Green, the vice chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission, talked in an article recently about advocating for that commission to expand its scope beyond dealing with matters that come before it and proactively engage in planning studies and recommendations. I agree, and I'm am informed it would be within the board’s authority. I suggest such a study would be a good place to start.
How do you fit in a commission setting. What's your role? Running a town has a lot in common with running a successful business. After law school, I joined a 16-lawyer firm in Newark, N.J. By the time I retired, it had grown to 160 lawyers in New Jersey, Manhattan and Londo. For many years, I served on the firm’s management committee, its executive committee and its large-litigation department. My practice also included areas relevant to work on the Commission, such as land use and dealings with governmental agencies.
I also bring substantial history to the Commission. About 40 years ago, we discovered Longboat Key and, like so many others, a stay at the Colony led to vacationing as a tourist, then purchasing a unit at the new Players Club for rental and part-time residency, then to purchasing a home in Land’s End, which became our primary home in 2000 and our only home for the last 12 years. I have long served as president or vice president of Land’s End and have been actively involved with the Village as well as with northern Longboat Key as a whole. I’ve lived on both ends of the key and have experienced it from different perspectives. My wife, Pat, served for many years as chair of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, two years on the planning board and five years as District 5 Commissioner. Naturally, this kept me abreast of town business. I also served on the Board of Adjustment and succeeded Pat in District 5 four years ago. I know Longnoat Key very well.
What's one thing you think the Commission could improve upon? We should increase the participation of citizens in town affairs. We need their informed input with regard to the proposed Town Center.
Why serve? Pat and I have long subscribed to a duty to give back to our community. In New Jersey, Pat served for many years on the local Board of Adjustment and was long involved in other school, home and community activities. I was a volunteer arbitrator in contractor construction disputes. I served for years as chair of the New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners and was principal author of New Jersey Appellate Practice and Procedure. Since our town was an express stop on the commuter train to New York City, we had an abundance of downtown parking lots to build, manage and maintain. I served for years as a member, then chair, of our parking authority. I was also the chairman of the board of our local YMCA.
What is the best way to engage with the public and hear what the town thinks? The town manager’s monthly report has become a good way to keep the citizens informed. The Observer might like to publish it. We are preparing a survey on the public’s commentary of all their likes, dislikes and recommendation. In addition, there are many people in Longboat Key with highly specialized skills. Even if they are not in a position to devote large amounts of time to governance, we should find a way to call on them for guidance. They might identify themselves in response to the survey.