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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 5 years ago

Rats took over Town Hall talk

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Oh, rats!

Last month, Longboat Key Town Hall had at least four of them.

And although we didn’t find past rodent occurrences that were documented in Longboat Observer archives, the issue of rats on the island has come up at Town Hall in the past.

The town had a longstanding practice of giving away free rat poison; that was discontinued in 1992.
But at the commission’s first meeting of January 1993, commissioners discussed the possibility of re-establishing a town-wide rodent-control program, citing a number of residents who complained about rodents in their homes.

The late Mayor Jim Brown (not to be confused with the current Mayor Jim Brown) told the commission that his pesticide man told him that rats often scatter when trees are cut down as the result of development.

Town Manager Al Cox told the commission that the town’s last major rat infestation occurred about a decade prior and volunteered advice to homeowners: Make sure roof vents are properly screened.

But Commissioner Woody Wolverton offered a cheaper practical solution: a cat.

The commission discussed the issue at a workshop the next month and heard a report from a town staffer who recommended that rodent control be the responsibility of the individual homeowner.

“According to public-health professionals, you have a better chance of being bitten by a rabid raccoon than you have in any way of being infected by these outside rats,” the town staffer told commissioners.

That conclusion probably wouldn’t surprise some Longboaters today. The issue of raccoons, particularly in the Emerald Harbor neighborhood, has come up in town meetings and emails during recent years.
The 1993 town staff report concluded that residents should use traps, rather than poison, for rats, because dogs or children could accidentally ingest poison.

At the February 1993 workshop, Commissioner Bob Farber expressed support for Wolverton’s feline fix-it.

“I think if I were running for commission, my motto would be: a car in every garage, a chicken in every pot and a cat in every house,” he quipped.

This week in history: Discussion about installing additional crosswalks on Gulf of Mexico Drive is a well-trudged path.

But Jan. 6, 2005, the Longboat Observer reported that an unknown prankster took to the steering wheel on the issue.

On New Year’s Day 2005, Gulfshore residents were surprised to wake up and find a white-line crosswalk painted across Gulf of Mexico Drive.

“I thought that it was nasty,” one Gulfshore resident said at the time. “No one here would do it. We take too much pride in living on the Key.”

Public Works Director Juan Florensa spotted the crosswalk while driving to work Jan. 3 and immediately notified the Florida Department of Transportation, which controls Gulf of Mexico Drive, because he knew it couldn’t be official.

That afternoon, FDOT had a crew at the scene to paint over the prank.

Several years earlier, Gulfshore residents had approached the Longboat Key Town Commission about the possibility of a crosswalk.

The request was denied.

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