Longboat Annual Meeting Gives Residents a Seat at the Budget Planning Table | Rowboat key

It’s a spring staple in Longboat Key.

The City Board Goals and Objectives Meeting is an annual opportunity for stakeholders, resident groups, organizations and individual citizens to speak out and clarify their own goals and objectives for the new budget season.

In this case, the workshop took place Monday at City Hall, and while disparate speakers delivered their thoughts, several common themes emerged, many dealing with the quality of life in the city.

From there, City Commissioners will meet on April 18 at their annual strategic planning retreat, where they will begin to flesh out the direction they would like to see the city go. Then there is a series of budget workshops in May and June leading up to final adoption in September.

“The presenters who are here today…are truly the driving force behind the contributions of our citizens,” said Mayor Ken Schneier. “What you are all doing today making your suggestions is really the tip of the iceberg of each of the groups efforts to help us.


What lies underwater in the city’s residential canals, both public and private, has been a concern for years, with the city considering not only dredging them, but also how to pay for it fairly and how to mitigate the loss. of seagrass in the process. .

But in at least one case, what’s above water is also a concern.

The dredging of the canal and the clearing of the mangroves were mentioned as subjects of the city’s attention.

Mayor Ken Schneier said the seagrass end of the dredging equation, while not necessarily the most important, is a tricky thing to figure out. The city would be required to replace at least as much seagrass as it disturbs. “Nobody has any seagrass to sell,” he said. “There used to be seagrass farms, but there aren’t that many anymore.”

In the case of Sleepy Lagoon, Marie McGregor of the Sleepy Lagoon Homeowners’ Association, said the mangroves overlooking the canals in her neighborhood are the problem. She said she recently observed a ship with a flying bridge maneuver past her backyard in a somewhat non-nautical manner.

“As it passed my house, it hit the mangroves,” she said. “I guess she didn’t want to be hit on the head.”

Commissioner Mike Haycock questioned whether the mangroves were on public land or private land, which would determine responsibility for the cut, and asked city workers to look into the matter.

Building security

David Lapovsky of the Federation of Longboat Key Condominiums, which represents about 6,000 condominium owners, urged commissioners to consider how structural inspections can be enacted.

On June 24, 2021, 98 people were killed in Sunrise when the Champlain South Towers collapsed. Although the cause is still under investigation, the incident has caused widespread concern, particularly in coastal areas, about the safety of old high-rise buildings.

“We are baffled by why the state legislature has not taken any action to do something statewide regarding structural integrity,” Lapovsky said. “And we support any effort the city can make to require inspection of buildings over three stories that are 20 years old or older. It is an urgent need. We don’t want to be the next big thing, and I don’t think we will, but we can’t take that risk.

Commissioner Debra Williams asked if the Federation had taken steps on its own initiative to issue voluntary inspection guidelines, which Lapovsky said the group had not but had sponsored a seminar in December with engineers, lawyers and insurers talking about the issue.

“While it’s great to have legislation, other than that people should really take initiative to preserve their property,” she said. “Steps in that direction?”

Lapovsky said the fatal incident prompted action by condo boards, but follow-up is often difficult. “Can you impose special contributions without the vote of the voters, under what circumstances can you do it?”

Lapovsky said the federation hopes the city can one day be the repository of information from condos that have conducted inspections. City Manager Tom Harmer said the city has been working on researching what other cities have done and has planned discussions with commissioners later in the spring about what steps the city could take.


Several groups mentioned the health of beaches, their access, the appearance of access points and the safety of swimmers.

“Without our beach, there is no Longboat Key,” Lapovsky said.

Pat Kaufman representing LBK North, which represents around 800 residences, said his organization was championing issues beyond the northern end of the island. The organization suggested completing the upgrade of the North Shore Road beach access point, but also going further.

A speaker wished that more buoys be restored along the beach to delimit safe navigation zones.

“Why not continue this program for all public access points to ensure that the public is encouraged to respect neighboring properties as well as the use of our beach,” she said, adding that the public regularly dumped trash, prompting the group to organize trash cleanup. “What kind of people would leave trash on a beach? »

Access to North Shore Road has recently had a facelift with clear entry points to avoid private property, garbage facilities and more.

She also encouraged the restoration of buoys off beaches to restrict motorboats and personal watercraft and encouraged city officials to work to resolve access issues posed by property owners that extend to at the waterline, which blocks north-south access.

Members of the Longboat Key Turtle Watch said they were advised by the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium to conduct their beach walks as usual along the waterline. “But only if we have issues will we actually find out,” Vice President Cyndi Seamon said. “The positive attitude will work.”


Sarah Karon spoke to the commissioners about progressing to phase 3 of the Town Center Green project, beyond the second phase in which she and her husband Paul are donating up to $500,000 for the construction of an outdoor stage in the field.

City leaders have been in talks with Sarasota County and Sarasota County Public Schools about potential partnerships to build a multipurpose structure that could house a public library, meeting space and room for other activities .

City leaders have been in talks with Sarasota County and Sarasota County Public Schools about potential partnerships to build a multipurpose structure that could house a public library, meeting space and room for other activities .

“We hope that city leaders and our citizens will rally behind the visioning process to envision a center for arts, culture and education on Longboat Key,” she said. “We support the creation of a new building as part of our city center concept. »

She said the Town Center Green site has potential as a community center with classrooms and a mid-size county library branch. “Again, it’s a dream,” she said.

She said private fundraising is a likely component of the plan, although she said a detailed vision for the city should come before any type of public-private arrangement. Karon said public money from Sarasota County or the school district “is a way of giving back to us that meets a real need.”

Schneier called Karon, a member of the Library Foundation of Sarasota County, which raises private funds to supplement the county’s fiscal support, one “of our allies in what we plan to do at the center for Phases 2 and 3.”

Scheier referred to the city’s scheduled joint meeting on April 27, whose agenda will include a discussion of the topic. “We know that every community in Sarasota County has at least one library, some like Venice have two 20,000 square foot libraries. … So we feel we are entitled to have that kind of contribution from the county.”

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