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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018 1 year ago

Tom Talks: An update from the town manager on island projects and iniatives

The Longboat Observer talks with Town Manager Tom Harmer about the Arts, Cultural and Education Center, Fire-Rescue contract negotiations, undergrounding, the one county initiative and north end erosion.
by: Bret Hauff Staff Writer

With the quiet days of summer upon us, it can seem like not much is going on around the Key. But a conversation with Town Manager Tom Harmer quickly dispels that myth. In an interview with the Longboat Observer, Harmer shares the latest developments on ongoing projects, and what’s coming up next.

Arts, Cultural and Education Center

“We met with Ringling (College of Art and Design) last week for an update. We’re focusing right now on planning for the demolition of the Amore building first. There’s the parallel effort that Ringling is working on ultimately with the (Longboat Key) Foundation, which will be the fundraising portion of it.

A rendering of the Arts, Cultural and Education Center

“We’re establishing a monthly update process going forward between the two of us so we can keep everyone up-to-date, and I’m scheduling an opportunity for them (Ringling) to come before the commission in September, at a September workshop. But internally, we’re working on what the outdoor venue — which we’re calling the temporary outdoor venue space or the interim use of that property — what that would look like so that we can build that into the specification for the demo contractor and site contractor that we will be soliciting for. When we hire them, they’ll know what they’re going to be doing on the site. We walked the site with George F. Young, who is the engineer who is helping us build the specs for the demo and the site work for the property.”

Fire-Rescue contract negotiations

“Still in process. Contract expires Sept. 30. We’re optimistic that we can reach an agreement with the union. We have a couple months to work on that with a goal of getting it adopted by our commission by Oct. 1.”

Underground utilities

“We just short-listed the undergrounding contractors. We had six submittals. We had a selection committee put together, and we got some outside assistance from the city of Venice and the city of North Port. They completed their review of those submittals and have short-listed it down to four. I think we just sent out the second phase of the selection process.

“This is more the technical phase. The first one was more qualifications based. This one is more technical. We’ll then ultimately select the contractor out of that. Parallel to that, we have the P3, public-private partnership proposal, that’s also out there. And the plan is to marry those together so that by the time we select a contractor we’ll be able to incorporate in the anticipated work that will be necessary as part of the fiber portion of the project. In the October-November time frame is when we’ll come back to the commission to discuss lighting fixtures and placement of lighting along GMD.”

One-county initiative

“The one-county initiative is being worked on behind the scenes to put together an updated list of how the two counties are funded and how that impacts Longboat Key. We’re scheduling that for a workshop session with the commission as soon as September, and at that point we’ll talk about next steps.”

North end erosion 

Erosion at the north end of the island has prompted town officials to seek emergency sand for the area.

“Our target for the first project, which is the interim nourishment piece around the town existing groins — we’re advancing that project with a goal of placing the sand in September.”

I’m a Longboat Key Staff Reporter. I write stories about how decisions and events affect the island, its leaders and its citizens. I received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Emerson College, where I wrote for The Boston Globe. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 333.

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