Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Longboat advances green initiatives to improve, sustain environment

The town's green initiatives include monitoring and improving water quality, increasing multimodal options and optimizing energy consumption.

  • By
  • | 5:00 a.m. August 13, 2022
(File photo)
(File photo)
  • Longboat Key
  • News
  • Share

The town of Longboat Key has released another update detailing the progress of initiatives it has set in hopes of improving and sustaining the island’s environment. 

The update provides information on projects that have been completed and those that are planned for the future or are in progress. 

“Long term, the town has always looked at environmental sustainability and preserving and protecting the environment,” said Support Services Director Carolyn Brown, who leads the program alongside Public Works Director Isaac Brownman and Planning, Building and Zoning Director Allen Parsons.

The initiatives are part of five primary goals laid out in the Town Commission’s strategic planning goals. The updates and staff participation fall under the plan’s goal of Environmental/Resiliency. 

A vertical oyster garden program aims to improve water quality in Sarasota Bay. (Photo by Eric Garwood)
A vertical oyster garden program aims to improve water quality in Sarasota Bay. (Photo by Eric Garwood)

Initiatives are broken down into categories including shoreline protection, water quality, environmental/energy efficiency, infrastructure and educational outreach. 

Some initiatives already completed by the town include: 

  • Emergency dredging on Greer Island, which was recently completed to allow a more complete tidal flushing of the north-end lagoon.
  • Participation in the vertical oyster garden program, which seeks resident participation in a Manatee County program that aims to improve water bay and canal water quality through the attraction of organisms that naturally filter water. 
  • Awarding additional funding for the planned relining of the wastewater line that leads from the island under Sarasota Bay to a treatment plant in Manatee County
  • Budgeting for the purchase of three hybrid vehicles as part of the town’s vehicle replacement plan. Town leaders had originally planned to buy full-electric pickup trucks for the Building Department and Fire-Rescue, but found them difficult to source and expensive. The town now hopes to buy a trio of Ford Maverick trucks, though delivery of those popular models is up to a year in some cases. 

The update is only the second provided to the commission. The first was Feb. 22. Updates are planned to be given about twice a year. If larger projects are completed before an update is due, staff will still update the commission as needed. 

“Our report shows and illustrates what we have accomplished, what we are currently working on and some of the things that are ongoing and we will continue to do,” Brown said. 

The effort was created after an October 2021 Town Commission strategic planning retreat. Staff was directed to organize an internal group to coordinate, facilitate and report on actions being taken indicative of the town’s support of green initiatives. 

Town Manager Tom Harmer appointed staff to work collaboratively on the sustainable initiatives. 

The Support Services and Planning, Zoning and Building departments have been coordinating their efforts to provide periodic updates. 

The town is working with a consultant on multimodal changes to Gulf of Mexico Drive. (Photo by Eric Garwood)
The town is working with a consultant on multimodal changes to Gulf of Mexico Drive. (Photo by Eric Garwood)

The staff works together to discuss appropriate actions to reach goals and request required budget actions as needed to support the projects throughout the year.

Initiatives included in the plans are decided upon by the Town Commission either through strategic planning retreats or other commission meetings. 

“Some are generated by staff as a means to achieve the progress toward the goal or initiatives - to adopt strategies to reduce exposure and mitigate impacts to our natural resources and reduce risk and retain or improve physical and environmental assets,” Brown wrote in an email. 

Several projects listed as active or planned include: 

  • Developing an implementation plan for sea level recommendations. Town leaders are expecting to receive a final report from consultants on the town's vulnerabilities and options on dealing with them.
  • Continued monitoring of red tide conditions. 
  • Conducting an energy audit for town-owned buildings in fiscal year 2023.
  • Continuing work to develop the Gulf of Mexico Drive Complete Streets Corridor Plan, which will enhance multimodal opportunities on the island.
  • Continuing discussions with Manatee County Area Transit and Sarasota County Area Transit for a single level of public transit on the island. Both transit systems have abandoned fixed-route service to the island in favor of on-demand service. Neither service will cross the county line, though, making the system less useful as a transportation alternative on the island. 

“The Town Commission has always looked to ensure that the town is respectful of the environment and that we are doing everything we need to do to ensure ongoing greatness,” Brown said. “We especially focus on our beach renourishment and preserving and protecting our shorelines because what would Longboat Key be without the beaches? It is really important that we are doing everything possible to take care of our environment.”


Latest News