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Longboat Key Monday, Aug. 9, 2021 1 year ago

Name proposed for north-end bay on Longboat

Bill Saba would like to name body of water between Greer Island and the north end of Longboat Key after his late grandparents.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Bill Saba is proposing to name the body of water between Greer Island and the north end of Longboat Key as an homage to his late grandparents.

Saba, 59, filed a proposal with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to name it Conrad Bay.

A deed shows Marjorie and Frank Conrad donated the land around the unnamed bay to the state for public use. Photo provided by Bill Saba.

“It just struck me one day that, that would be a nice way to honor them for deeding this property to the state,” Saba said.

Saba’s grandfather Frank Conrad moved to Sarasota in 1933 where he opened an electrical appliance and contracting business. Conrad and his wife Marjorie owned the land at the north end of Longboat Key. A deed dated March 6, 1974, shows the couple donated the land around the bay to the state for public use.

“The said property shall be used and maintained at all times henceforth solely as a public recreation area in its natural state,” the deed states. “No permanent structure or improvements shall be erected.”

Even though Frank Conrad died on Aug. 23, 2005, Saba said he feels a responsibility to his grandfather. Saba set up the website as a tribute.

“My grandparents always wanted the island to remain in its natural state for use by the public,” Saba said.

The specific body of water is 15 acres at the north end of the island, south of Longboat Pass.

In April, Christine Farmer submitted the proposal to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names on behalf of Saba. The BGN is the federal authority established in 1890 that is responsible for all geographic names.

“The BGN does not vote on man-made, cultural entities, such as schools, parks, buildings, etc.,” BGN research staffer Jennifer Runyon wrote in an email.

A map provided by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names shows Bill Saba's proposal for Conrad Bay.

The BGN is asking the town of Longboat Key, the Manatee County Commission and the Florida State Board on Geographic Names for a recommendation on the Conrad Bay name proposal.

“I let the commissioners known that I’m going to put it on the agenda for their meeting in September so that they can give me some direction on how they would like me to respond to this request,” Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer said.

The Longboat Key Town Commission is scheduled to meet next on Sept. 13.

“After all parties have had a chance to provide input, we add the proposal to the BGN’s next monthly docket for the final decision,” Runyon wrote.

Longtime north-end Longboat Key resident Tom Mayers wrote to town commissioners about how he prefers a different name for the bay. Mayers said his family has lived in Longboat Key for more than 100 years.

“I think it became awkward that there wasn’t a name for it when they were discussing the area and what to do there,” Mayers said. “So, I can understand them wanting to come up with a name, I’m just saying let’s consider this and come up with some alternatives to the suggestion that they name it Conrad Bay.”

Mayers’ suggestions include Greer Bay, Manatee Bay, John Savarese Bay, Fran Mayers Bay and Tom Mayers Bay.

“I think the most logical one is Greer Bay,” Mayers said.

Saba said he was unaware of any opposition to his Conrad Bay proposal.

The naming process typically takes several months, according to Runyon.

Longboat Key District 5 Commissioner Maureen Merrigan said public safety is a strong reason to offer up some kind of name.

“The one thing that I’ve heard sort of consistently is… that area can be confusing to the police,” Merrigan said.

For example, Greer Island is often referred to among locals as Beer Can Island.

In July, the confusion prompted the dispatch center for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to begin using a new map to categorize Greer Island and Jewfish Key into eight different sectors. The intent is to help first responders in the field respond to emergency calls more quickly.

Also, there is a housing development called Conrad Beach Homes on Fire House Road. The development does not adjoin the unnamed bay.

Merrigan said she and north-end residents would like to avoid name confusion, regardless of what the bay ends up getting named.

“I think there’s a lot of history for us to learn too if we go down the path of reviewing it from a commission standpoint,” Merrigan said.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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