A lot is in the cards for Longboat this year. Here's one swing at what some of them might be.
It's simply not a new year without a raft of predictions from people mostly unqualified to make them. With that in mind . . .
We will still be talking about traffic
OK, maybe, not so bold, huh?
But even after the Barrier Island Traffic Study is completed and recommendations implemented, we’re going to still see backups getting on and off the island. It’s inevitable when forcing seasonal crowds through a transportation funnel built for decades ago off-peak times.
As so many people have said so many times, Longboat Key doesn’t have a traffic problem. The results of mainland traffic problems show up on the barrier islands, often in the form of bumper to bumper stretches from causeway to causeway, because of choke points elsewhere. Vastly smaller numbers of cars and trucks would make a dent, but that's not going to happen.
And don’t count on water taxis, lengthened turn lanes, traffic circles or park-and-ride lots making deep differences.
And by the way, the recommendations from My Personal Barrier Island Traffic Study are in, and they won't cost you a penny.
- Be patient
- Be nice
- Allow extra time.
- Look out the window when you're stuck in traffic.
Coyotes will get even more attention
Someone's dog or cat will go missing. Something scary will happen on a sidewalk. Someone might do something drastic.
Where ever they came from, however they got here, coyotes don't really fit in on Longboat Key.
Yes, they're native the same way raccoons and peacocks and squirrels are. But a coyote (or coyotes) on the loose in an essentially residential neighborhood don't really fit in. The risks are too great.
So, against common wisdom and expert opinion, the best thing is to probably trap as many as possible and move them as far away as practical.
You might see fire trucks in an unexpected places
To facilitate the demolition and rebuilding of the town's south fire station, the town has enlisted the help of a real estate company to find a temporary home for the men and women and their gear. To keep response times relatively the same, the ersatz fire station will need to be fairly nearby.
Storefront? Now-empty former resort property? Condo? $26.5 million home listed for sale? (just kidding about the last one, there.)
Rest assured, help will be there when you call no matter where they land.
Yarrrr, thar may not be a new place to eat soon
The former Pattigeorge's building is long gone. The restaurant even more so.
But don't expect to be sitting down to dinner at The Buccaneer by the end of the year. More like 2020.
The Buccaneer is an homage to Herb Field's The Buccaneer Inn, which opened in 1957 and closed in 2001 at the site of Grand Mariner condominium.
St. Regis won't be just a concept
By the time we start wrapping gifts and ringing bells in front of Publix again, things will be hoppin' at the site of Chuck Whittall's proposed St. Regis Hotel and Residences.
A sales office will be up and running. Final construction plans will be set. Heck, we might even see the beginnings of groundwork.
Momentum, if you can call it that, has come in a series of fits and starts since early 2018, when the Town Commission first approved the project. Once the judicial process to consolidate ownership begins, things will take shape rapidly.
Don't start making reservations yet, but don't be surprised if that land isn't vacant long.
One County will gain momentum
2019 might be the year Longboat Key's One County initiative (see, we've already capitalized it) goes from pie-in-the-sky to hey-this-might-actually-work.
Though it's a complicated needle to thread, with tons of entanglements to, well, untangle, progress will be made.
Property taxes are higher for the folks who live in the Manatee County zone of Longboat compared to the Sarasota side, with no appreciable difference in services.
It's a complicated thing to accomplish and would require legislative approval in Tallahassee. No one says it will be easy, and some compromises will have to be made. But don't be surprised when this issue begins gaining some traction outside the town limits.
Let's call it Central Park
Demolition of the former Amore restaurant is coming soon. Creation of a central gathering place is happening not long after while we wait for fund-raising and construction of the Arts, Cultural and Education Center on the site.
Movies under the stars, concerts and other public events are happening soon. Imagine what the annual Freedom Fest Independence Day celebration will be like with such a venue. So, the prediction? It will be a hit.
Fewer Road Under Water signs
Without getting into an argument about climate change or sea-level rise, can we all agree that we've seen a lot of water across the roads, especially on the north end of the island.
Expect less of it as the town takes action against such events as blue-sky flooding that can happen when tides rise above normal, forcing salt water up through the storm drain system and into roads.
It's a known problem and the town is working to fix it with backflow-preventing machinery in storm drains. It's a complicated thing.
Read my lips: No named storms
Call this one more wishful thinking than a bold prediction, but there will be no named storms hitting us in the 2018 tropical weather season.
That's right. None.
Hurricane Irma gave us enough to be nervous about in 2017, then gave us enough to be frustrated over. We deserve a break. So, while there is no scientific data anywhere to back up this bold prediction, we're gonna stand behind it.
Red Tide? That's a different story.
All of these will come to pass
When we reconvene in early 2020, we will marvel at the accuracy and boldness of these predictions.
Now, that's a bold prediction.
Have a great 2019.