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Letter to the Editor

Don’t stop. Complete Longboat Key library project now.

Longboat's mayor writes to urge on progress for the library project at the Town Center Green.

  • By
  • | 5:00 a.m. February 21, 2024
The core library space is estimated to be around 8,000 square feet.
The core library space is estimated to be around 8,000 square feet.
Courtesy image
  • Longboat Key
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This is in response to your Feb. 15 editorial, “This is what LBK wants,” urging the Longboat Key Town Commission to “slam the brakes” on our proposed plan to build a library-community center at the Town Center Green in collaboration with the Sarasota County Library system.

Five years ago, the town was poised to finalize a plan with Ringling College of Art and Design to build a community center at the site we are discussing today. Labeled an “arts, cultural and education center,” the plan in large part was designed to replicate and improve upon the arts center previously located at the north end of Longboat.  

At the insistence of two of our then commissioners (out of seven) and the Observer, that project was scuttled. 

After five years back at the drawing boards, we are at a similar inflection point with a new, and fully committed, partner to finally realize the 20-year vision of this community to create the first place on the Sarasota barrier islands for our residents and guests to gather to read, study, learn, experience music and theater and simply get together. 

It is the third and final stage of our long-planned Town Center to complement the park and pavilion already in place and actively used.

Far from presenting a final and complete plan for the proposed center, the meeting held at Town Hall Feb. 12 was the re-commencement of the interrupted process to decide what features to include in the designated tract next to the Chase Bank.  

The vision put forward by the Town Commission and former Town Manager Tom Harmer beginning in 2019 was for a county-sponsored library (we are the only community in Sarasota that doesn’t have at least one) and dedicated facilities for adult education, connected by a community gathering space and multi-use facility for large meetings, lectures and performances. 

We are committed to implementing this long-held vision now. The worst thing we could do is to again derail this plan as it once again gets off the ground. We have a great partner in the county library system with whom we are confident we can agree on a project that will be an excellent contribution to Longboat and our barrier island neighbors.  

Let’s do this.

— Ken Schneier, mayor of Longboat Key


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