Members learn more about underground project, new commissioner.
At the April 1 Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key meeting, there were plenty of happy dollars deposited into the club’s pot. In total, there were 17 at the meeting and a few members were back with the club for the first time since the pandemic.
After breakfast, members settled in for a double-header of speakers as Longboat Key projects manager James Linkogle gave an update on the town’s underground utilities project and new commissioner Penny Gold introduced herself.
A little over a year and a half into the utilities project, poles and overhead wires are soon to be disappearing in the island's southern neighborhoods. Phase two is on the northernmost part of the island and as of March 31, the town had nearly all the conduit installed in the Village. Phase three will start in April.
“We’re always trying to work the phases towards the middle of the island,” Linkogle said. “Phase four is next. We are moving north with phase three towards the county line.”
Gulf of Mexico Drive lighting poles are being stood up now, Linkogle said, and the town will try to use those pole locations for future wireless infrastructure to allow for “work from anywhere” capabilities. The town is working with KCI to negotiate with carriers to incentivize them to team up with the town to increase capabilities.
“Obviously, we're always looking for this ubiquitous coverage, so everywhere you go on the island, you got a good signal, and then enhanced 911 services and business-related services,” Linkogle said. “We really believe we're positioned very well.”
Switch orders and pole removal will likely happen phase-by-phase, Linkogle said as the project moves toward its anticipated completion by the end of 2022.
When it was her turn, Gold introduced herself, telling club members she's been to every Town Commission meeting since November to get up to speed on issues. She was sworn in last month.
Gold, who holds a master's degree in government and a BA in political science and was CEO of the Kentucky Society of CPAs, has long been around public service. In college, she worked with Nassau County government on Long Island, then Queens County government, then a governor's campaign in New York and then with program planning and development in Jefferson County, Kentucky before becoming director of federal programs. Finally, she made her way to state government. Local government is near and dear to her heart, she said, and now she’s diving into Longboat Key issues.
“It’s difficult to say what my priorities are right now because I’m so new,” Gold said. “Having someplace to put all our waste is a high priority, because I think the town thought they had 20 or 25 years left on the original pipe and now suddenly, we've got to find a way to do this right now to build a new pipe.”
Gold also named the roundabouts on the mainland and pedestrian safety as a high priority, as well as keeping an eye on what’s going on in Tallahassee and Sarasota.
“My background was legislative lobbying, which certainly gives me a little bit more interest in pieces of legislation that are coming through,” Gold said.