- May 11, 2020
The Theater on the Green project for Town Center Green is far from finalized — and neither are town residents’ concert about what bringing a black box theater would do to the outdoor space. Kiwanis members heard from Tom Aposporos and Tom Freiwald about the issue at their March 3 meeting.
Freiwald gave a brief overview of the project, which proposes to bring a 2,500 square foot black box theater to the Town Center Green for theater, dance and musical performances. It would hold about 150 audience members and be a privately funded building on public land. Out of the $750,000 necessary for the project, about $300,000 have been donated.
Read more: Former Longboat commissioners propose black box theater for Town Center site
Club members expressed concern about several issues that the black box theater could create or exacerbate; one club member raised the issue of space on the Town Center Green. The Kiwanis Lawn Party was held there in December, sold out with 800 guests and took up much of the open green space. Additionally, one club member wondered if using the public space was worth it for a venue with so few seats. Aposporos said that buildings that may one day be on the green would be towards the edge, near the Chase Bank building, and not interfere with the main lawn.
Another major concern was parking. There is a parking lot on Bay Isles Road, but event attendees consistently spill into nearby parking lots, including the Temple Beth Israel, All Angels by the Sea Episcopal Church and the Publix parking lot. The most recent Market on Longboat Key filled the Town Center Green lot and made parking at Publix rare despite signs against parking for the event.
Read more: Longboat Key leaders expected to develop Town Center concept plan
Club President Michael Garey brought up the concern that the popular outdoor space could be crowded out by buildings — “running out of Green,” he said. Other than the Theater on the Green project, the Longboat Key Foundation is looking at bringing the Longboat Library or Education Center at Temple Beth Israel to the space. The Longboat Key Historical Society is also opening a museum in a cottage already on the site, and an outdoor stage funded by Paul and Sarah Karon is also underway.
“I don’t believe the town is going to allow that to happen,” Aposporos said.