As a self-anointed ex-professional versed in civil engineering and land planning, please allow me to translate the presentation by the representatives of the Urban Land Institute as a preliminary result of their introduction to Longboat Key and its residents, business owners and the town.
The ULI representatives understood these three entities involved had to have communality of wishes and desires to effect the radical change that it proposes and envisions. They admit they uncovered the obvious antipathy between the town and the residents — and that peace must be effected before change can occur and they agree to work together.
Therein lies the rub. It seems like a conundrum. If past history continues, this town has never considered the will of the residents in the flights of fancy on which it has been embarking. This has been the direct result of the body politic refusing admission to its governing bodies to anyone offering another point of view.
But whose town is this, anyway?
Certainly not the business owners. The businesses that succeed on our island are those that provide the services and necessities our residents really require. It is not yet apparent that the ancillary stores and accessory commercial spaces envisioned to enhance our new Publix have been storming onto the site.
Certainly not the individuals who comprise the town, i.e. elected officials and town government. They come and go at the whim of the electorate.
So, that leaves the residents. It really is our town. Our wishes and desires should be heavily weighted in coming to any conclusions and projection for the future.
Please consider, these “experts” were invited to our town by the advocates of change. They are urban consultants — not suburban consultants. They are careful to produce what their clients demanded. And so they did, which brings us to the meat of their efforts.
They agree that nothing we can do will ameliorate the fact that additional traffic cannot be accommodated or ameliorated, yet they encourage bringing more people to our island.
They resurrected the concept of a community center, which the residents have twice turned down, yet the body politic keeps spending money on consultants.
They tout plans for a strip pedestrian shopping mall for unneeded shops where our current residents still depend on their cars for getting between the bank and the post office.
They castigate the legacy plans and comprehensive plan and zoning codes based entirely, it would appear, on complaints from their clients. These documents helped to create the Longboat Key that now exists, the Longboat Key that lured us residents to settle here. That is hubris personified.
Of particular note, nothing in the ULI comments is in agreement with the wishes of the contrarians. They can’t have been all wrong. The courts agreed unequivocally!
So, if you are part of the body politic that constitutes the town or someone bent on using this community to enhance his earning capacity, you are probably basking in the glow of receiving comfort from this costly adventure. However, if you are a tax-paying resident, footing the bill for this new advocacy for change, be prepared for a new attack on our quite enjoyment of our homes and ambience.
As one of the latter group, I am fully prepared to do what I can to stem this forthcoming avalanche of wheels spinning by our body politic to digest this plateful of goodies and expending more municipal funds on pie-in-the-sky proposals.
In a separate letter to the town, I am enclosing a check payable to the town in the amount of $7.92. I am suggesting the Information Technology Department use this money to purchase eight copies of “Rebuild” from the Apple App Store and install it into the iPads of each of the town commissioners. The eighth 99 cents is for another copy for the Revitalization Task Force, which has spearheaded this extravaganza.
It will lend a vehicle for enhancing your skills in rebuilding a city, which, like your estimate of Longboat Key, is a “once great” community. But it will not further burden the residents in their mission of trying to retain the stature and character and intrinsic value of our homes. And, it will free up quality time at commission meetings for things that matter.
Bradford Saivetz is a longtime resident of Longboat Key and former member of the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board.