Throughout the holiday week, YourObserver.com will be counting down the top 12 stories of 2009 (one from each month) from our Longboat, East County and Sarasota Observers. Check back each day fro a reprinting — and any relevant updates — of the biggest news items of the year.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED Nov. 19, 2009
The 11 residential associations behind the gates of Islandside, listed as members of The Islandside Property Owners Coalition, are being asked to join the coalition’s new limited-liability corporation and contribute money to the coalition’s legal defense fund.
All of the associations are holding discussions at local board meetings to approve joining the corporation, which was created, IPOC officials say, to make the organization more formal and limit each association’s liability.
But supporters of The Longboat Key Club and Resort’s $400 million Islandside renovation and expansion project are upset that the boards that make the decisions for the majority of the residents are entering into the corporation and have already approved thousands of dollars in association funds that are being used to pay for IPOC attorneys Michael Furen and Robert Lincoln.
At a board of directors meeting of the Sands Point Condominium Association Tuesday, Nov. 10, Sands Point residents Rick and Marsha Crawford, who founded the Positive Change for LBK Coalition, which supports the club’s project, told the board they were upset with their board’s actions.
When Sands Point Condominium Association President Julian Hansen told those in attendance that the association was voting on whether to join IPOC’s liability corporation, the Crawfords and Sands Point resident Todd Stern told the board they didn’t want the association to join.
“Right now, our association has no liability,” said Stern, a Tampa attorney and a Positive Change for LBK member. “Once we join, we accept any liability that comes from being a member of this group.”
Hansen disputed the claims, saying the association would have much more liability if it didn’t join the corporation.
The board decided by a 5-2 vote to join the limited-liability corporation.
Sands Point residents and board members Carmel Izzo and Paul Saxton, both opponents of the club’s project, voted against joining the coalition until it could be further discussed and reviewed.
Rick Crawford, meanwhile, asked Hansen how much money the Sands Point association has given to IPOC to help pay for its legal fees.
Hansen told those in attendance that the association board has approved $19,000 in association funds for IPOC purposes.
“We are not obligated monetarily to contribute,” Hansen said. “But I can assure you the coalition needs more money.”
Hansen also said that if the coalition asks the Sands Point association for money and it doesn’t pay (as part of the new limited-liability corporation), the association would not have the standing to vote on any major (coalition) development.
When Crawford asked the board to postpone any decision on IPOC until a future discussion of facts about the Key Club’s project, Hansen said that the board had already voted.
“This is a board meeting,” Hansen said. “If you don’t like the decisions we make, the only thing you can do is vote us out of office.”
Later in the meeting, the board said it had not put any money aside or begun to assess its 78 unit owners for a new roof that will cost between $500,000 and $700,000.
“We’re spending association money to be used for IPOC purposes, but we’re not worrying about the future of our own property,” said Marsha Crawford, who told Hansen she would work to change the dynamic of the Sands Point board.
Bob White, chairman of the Islandside Property Owners Coalition, told The Longboat Observer that he would not disclose how much money the 11 associations behind the gates have contributed to the coalition, although he said it was “a significant amount.”
“The expenses have been significant and so have the contributions,” said White, who said that L’Ambiance and The Sanctuary have contributed the most money.
Mike Seery, president of the Sanctuary Community Association and vice president of IPOC, said the Sanctuary board has contributed close to 40% of IPOC’s total budget.
Seery also declined to say how much the L’Ambiance and Sanctuary associations have contributed.
The remaining nine presidents of the associations were contacted and either declined to say how much their boards have spent or could not be reached for comment.
Jules Rose, president of The Pierre Association, would also not disclose his board’s financial contribution.
But Rose said that after the board’s initial contribution, the board has decided to poll unit owners before any association funds are used in the future.
“We realize our board works for the unit owners,” said Rose, who explained that some of his 66 unit owners are supporters of the project. “We now poll unit owners and need a simple majority to contribute more funds to IPOC out of respect to those supporters.”
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].