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Letters to the Editor

Readers respond to the St. Regis parking garage proposal changes

  • By
  • | 7:00 a.m. June 7, 2023
  • Longboat Key
  • Opinion
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Proper proposal vetting

First a point of order, it is important to note that the artist rendering of the St. Regis multilevel garage presented to P&Z and depicted in the May 24 Observer on Page 5 is misrepresenting what it is to be. Note there are no cars illustrated on the top level of this large parking garage and those cars will also be visible over top of the garage low side walls.

Why not? You can draw your own conclusions.

This compels bringing up the most important issue of inadequate communication to residents about this major departure application to expand the St. Regis development. The Town Commission hearing dates of June 5 and June 20 fall in the summer offseason when half to two-thirds of Longboat residents are not in residence.

The many departures requested in this application have not and cannot be properly communicated to constituents for consideration because they are not here.

You may recall a few years ago another important issue surfaced in the summer when Florida Power & Light presented a plan to replace all the power poles with hardened, larger and taller poles to withstand hurricanes.

That seemed, on the surface, to be a reasonable thing to do. However, a few of us year-rounders asked the commission to slow down and do more homework on the real cost and figure out a plan to underground all power utilities, islandwide, for consideration. 

As a result of great work by the town staff and commission we will now enjoy a drastically improved environment on our key. No more unsightly utility poles, power lines, and we will experience uninterrupted service.

Folks, that was a close call!

Important projects need proper vetting by all residents — not just those who happen to be in town during the summer.

Respectfully, please do not fully consider this project until the late fall for proper communication and vetting by all residents when they return. Or vote no, and the developer can resubmit after the resort opens and has some real-world operating experience. Any necessary new departures will be based on facts, not on revised, estimated projections and conjecture, which is now before you.

As an aside, arguments about the importance of reducing valet wait times in the electric lift departure should be completely ignored by the commission. This is not a town problem or an unmanageable problem for the operator. They previously asked for approval on this which the commission did.

The operators can make adjustments without building more large concrete structures.

As you well know, most of the letters oppose this garage on GMD for obvious, common sense reasons. Please take heed and do not approve this garage, much less during the summer months with so many residents away. That would be misguided.

The St. Regis will successfully open next summer and will be a great asset to our community.

Many thanks to the town staff for their hard and diligent work on this new resort and to Chuck Whittall and Unicorp for the years of effort to make this special resort a reality. Please do not mar this “crown jewel” resort with a multilevel parking garage at its entrance right on Gulf of Mexico Drive.

— Bob Gault, Longboat Key

Too many changes to parking plan

We were very supportive of the new St. Regis but now have doubts that it will be the quality development we were promised. We have watched the building process and now can see the massive structures taking form.

Change upon change to the original plan has incrementally altered the project to become something that would never have been approved in the first place.

The landscape plan has been completely voided. Plastic plants to be used to prevent having sprinklers. We use drip irrigation on this island where the hoses rest on the surface beneath the mulch or ground cover. Each plant has its own small dripper. No impact on below-ground infrastructure. 

Perhaps their landscaper isn’t familiar with it. You must not allow them to use plastic plants because storm winds will blow the plastic into the mangroves right across the street. Manatees and dolphins are born in the harbors there. The plastic can never be removed.

And the idea that they are asking for yet another building, a three-level parking garage at Gulf of Mexico Drive, to avoid a three-minute extra wait time for their customers to receive their valeted cars, is breathtakingly insulting.

They got everything they wanted. And Longboat Key lost the thousand trees that were supposed to screen the property and maintain the lush tropical paradise that is Longboat. Please deny the application.

— Shannon Bolser Gault, Longboat Key


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