The town of Longboat Key decided to terminate the agreement allowing policing behind the gates of Bay Isles Association.
Bay Isles and the town originally entered the memorandum of understanding in November 2022, in which the association requested regular police patrols within the association for traffic enforcement. Under the agreement, the Longboat Key Police Department could write tickets for traffic stops, such as running stop signs, driving through crosswalks while pedestrians are crossing and illegal turns.
The initial agreement was set for five years, with the provision that the agreement could be terminated without cause with a 90-day notice. Termination of the existing memorandum has an effective date of Feb. 28, 2024.
Recent discussions with Bay Isles Association representatives prompted the termination, according to Town Manager Howard Tipton. Both Tipton and the association representatives agreed that there were more effective ways to achieve the outcome the association was looking for.
Tipton said technology is advanced enough that surveillance cameras and other devices can catch the traffic violations the association wanted to curtail.
Second, Tipton said when officers are behind the gates of private property, it may lead to an opportunity for a bad impression.
While the association wants to handle enforcement behind the gates, it would like police enforcement on Bay Isles Parkway. The parkway is technically a private road owned by the Bay Isles Association.
Tipton said previous traffic studies indicated that road is the second-most heavily trafficked on the island behind Gulf of Mexico Drive.
If the town were to forgo a new memorandum of understanding giving the police department the right to enforce traffic violations on the parkway, then the police could not write tickets for speeding, illegal turns, car haulers and other minor violations on the road.
Officers would be able to respond to incidents such as car accidents on that road.
HOA Safety Committee Chair Mark Hullinger said the association is able to handle minor violations within the association by issuing rule violation fees but can’t do the same on Bay Isles Parkway.
“We just don’t have the capacity, without your help, to take care of Bay Isles Parkway,” Hullinger said.
According to a previous traffic study, there are about 4 million trips per year on Bay Isles Parkway, Hullinger said. There are about 600,000 trips per year inside the gates, according to the association's own data monitoring.
The last component of the conversation was the association's idea of dedicating Bay Isles Parkway to the town, thus giving the town complete authority. Both Tipton and Public Works Director Isaac Brownman said multiple studies would need to be conducted to inspect the status of the road before accepting.
Mayor Ken Schneier was opposed to the memorandum of understanding for policing the parkway, claiming that any police enforcement on the private roads of Bay Isles would impact homeowners' excess liability insurance, according to conversations with other residents. Hullinger denied those rumors.
The commission voted 6-1 to terminate the current memorandum and enter into the new memorandum for policing only the parkway. Schneier was the only opposition.
Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that the town of Longboat Key decided to terminate the policing agreement with the Bay Isles Association.