Canal connection questioned
Date:July 6, 2011 by: Kurt Schultheis | City Editor
The Longboat Observer


"William Conrad Saba remembers hearing stories from his grandfather, Longboat Key pioneer Frank Conrad, about when Longbeach Village used to be an island. “For the Village to become populated, they had to create a roadway entrance back in the 1880s,” Saba explains. “The road eliminated the island that’s now made up of the Village.” Walking on Broadway Street near the entrance to the Longbeach Village neighborhood Friday, July 1, Saba pulls out a copy of an undated historic plat map that’s registered with the Manatee County Clerk’s Office. The map depicts the two canals that now sit on either side of Broadway — the main entrance to the Village. Saba believes the plat map is the only document that shows that when Broadway was built, the canal that used to flow all the way to Sarasota Bay south behind where Whitney Beach Plaza sits today was made into two separate bodies of water. Fresh water still flows into the canal on the north side of Broadway, because it flows into Longboat Pass, but the water on the south side of Broadway has become stagnant, because the road cut the flow of water from the bay. Saba owns a half-dozen lots to the south of Broadway that sit mostly in stagnant water. “I look at this strictly from an environmental standpoint,” Saba said. “The idea that water doesn’t flow in these canals causes this waterway to be stagnant and polluted. That water is not flowing there now is almost criminal.” Village feel For years, Saba and some Village residents have hoped to get the water flowing again between the two canals, even if the two bodies of water can’t physically be connected again. Others agree. Outgoing Village President Michael Drake has attended the last three Longboat Key Town Commission Goals and Objectives workshops to ask the commission to consider installing gas lamps and a bridge over Broadway where the two canals used to connect. Longboat Key Revitalization Task Force Chairman and former Longboat Key Mayor George Spoll takes the vision a step further. Spoll said the concept has recently been discussed at task force meetings, which are being held to find ways to revitalize the Key and rejuvenate the north end of the island. “When discussing ways to revitalize Whitney Beach Plaza, it’s been discussed that having some boating access there behind the plaza would be something to look into,” Spoll said. Spoll, whose group is trying to find ways to connect restaurants such as Moore’s Stonecrab Restaurant & Marina and Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub to Gulf of Mexico Drive, thinks an improved waterway that boaters could access via small canoes and kayaks is something to explore. Spoll hopes to work with town officials to investigate the history of the road. Brian Kenney, the owner of Whitney Beach Plaza, who is devising a plan for the aging plaza that includes commercial, residential and tourism components, agrees. “The more traffic I can get to that site, even via boaters coming from nearby restaurants, is a good thing,” said Kenney, who believes a waterway there would help with his goal of bringing a hotel to that area. “It seems like a no-brainer to me,” Kenney said. There are many hurdles, though. When asked about the history of the waterway, Public Works Director Juan Florensa said the decision to cut off the waterway was way before his time. Florensa, who has been asked about this concept many times in the past, questions the concept’s validity. Florensa maintains that connecting the two waterways would destroy mangroves on both ends of the canals. “Why would we open a waterway that removes existing mangroves for what I believe is no environmental improvement to the area?” Florensa said. “It’s been like that for decades and decades, and there is no benefit to having water flow there.” Florensa said he was asked to investigate the feasibility of connecting the waterways in the past and said it would cost the town more than $1 million to dredge and reconnect the waterways. Florensa said the only pipes that exist under Broadway move the flow of rainwater from one side of Broadway to the other during a storm. Although hurdles exist, Saba maintains his suggestion is just that — a suggestion. “It’s common sense that the canals used to meet,” Saba said. “At one time the Village used to be an island. Who knows? Maybe it can be one again with a nice bridge entrance to the historic community.”

-Schultheis, Kurt. 
     Your Observer. July 6, 2011 ‹›

Map of the area before and after


Before Picture Canal


After Pic of canal

Mosquito boom bugs Villagers
Date: July 25, 2012 by: Robin Hartill | City Editor
The Longboat Observer

James Braha has an itching desire to get rid of the mosquitoes that have been taking quite a few bites out of him lately in the Longbeach Village. “They became bad consistently three or four months ago,” he said. “They’ve been eating me alive.” If you’re a Village resident, and you’ve been even more bugged than usual this summer, you’re not alone. “We have this every year to varying degrees, but I think this year it’s worse because of the storms,” said Commissioner Pat Zunz, who lives in Land’s End. “We’ve had past seasons that were basically drought seasons.” Manatee County Mosquito Control District sprayed in the Village area earlier this month and will likely return for more spraying. Christopher Lesser, assistant director of the Manatee County Mosquito Control District, said that his agency has been getting between three and five times the number of mosquito complaints it typically receives since Tropical Storm Debby. But the population of the bloodsucking bugs in question, known as the yellow-fever mosquito because of one illness they spread (although Florida hasn’t had a documented yellow-fever case in more than 50 years) has been surging throughout Manatee County and, to an extent, the entire state, for reasons that aren’t clear to officials. Their best guess: Increased urbanization throughout the state, which increases mosquito-breeding habitat. Lesser said that the increased mosquitoes are largely bred in containers that hold stagnant water. “Places like tires, fish ponds, refuge, trash, bird baths,” Lesser said. “The kind of things that people forget about are the kind of areas we see (increased activity).” So, why does the Village seem more plagued by mosquitoes than the rest of the Key? Probably because it has lots of single-family homes with backyards, where mosquito-generating containers can accumulate, unlike the rest of the Key, which consists mostly of condominiums. Lesser’s agency will typically spray any home that reports a problem with mosquitoes within 24 hours. In order to conduct spraying efforts via helicopter, the county must document that a larger area of at least 500 to 1,000 acres is impacted by mosquito activity. Still, according to Lesser, Longboat Key’s mosquito population appears to be declining in the weeks following Debby. But the population of mosquitoes biting Braha doesn’t seem to be going away. He is still getting bitten, especially in the early morning and late afternoon — and he is encouraging his neighbors to contact the county to document the issue.

Studies on this subject are clear.

"Dead-end or poorly-flushed canals also contribute to poor nearshore water quality..." -NOAA


In order to keep Longboat Key clean and our waters beautiful, your support is essential! Whether it is by putting a small bridge on Broadway or simply by reconnecting the waterway via underground pipes, re-establishing the water flow of this canal to its natural/original state will restore the eco-system of the entire canal, flush out all of the accumulated pollution, and help eliminate the mosquito problem on the north end of Longboat Key.