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Longboat Key public buildings and land

by Roger Pettingell

Emergency and government buildings

Longboat Key services offered at each of these buildings and parks

Northern fire department building
Fire Department - The north building constructed in 1994 is slated for renovation projects this year.

While many of the government activities for Longboat Key are housed in the main building at 501 Bay Isles Road, some departments have their buildings away from the town hall. The town hall is conveniently located near the Gulf of Mexico Drive halfway point of the 11-mile stretch. Finance, human resources, information technology, planning, zoning, building, town clerk and utility billing all have their departments in this 18,622 square foot building constructed in 1974.

Town manager Tom Harmer has an office there and the town commission has their meetings the first Monday of each month in the town hall. A meet-and-greet of the seven member panel will be held May 6. The commission also conducts workshops once a month including a two-day workshop April 24-25 to discuss lighting laws that protect sea turtle nesting sites. Restrictions on exterior lighting are put in place each May through October when the turtles are in their peak nesting months.

Although utility billing is handled from the town hall office, the public works department is at 600 General Harris Street by the Christ Church of Longboat Key, the barrier island’s northern end. This department is responsible for street maintenance, parks, beaches, utilities and garbage collection. Water and sewer concerns are also handled through public works with an after hour emergency number at (941) 316-1977. The town water plant is located at 4250 Gulf of Mexico, just south of St. Mary Star of the Sea Church.

The Longboat Library is the next-door neighbor to the town hall at 555 Bay Isles Road. This all-volunteer staff controls a large assortment of books and audio CDs, with membership fees to cover costs. The Longboat Key government provides no funding to the library. Internet access through library computers are connected to printers for patron convenience. At 2,300 square feet, the library was built in 1971. There is a proposal to replace the library with an arts, culture and education center and a small black box theatre. Another favored site proposal is the old Amore Restaurant site behind the Publix shopping center plaza. The town is working in cooperation with the Ringling College of Art and Design for the proposed center.

The town operates two fire department buildings and one precinct for police protection. The northern end of Longboat Key is protected by the fire and rescue staff at 5490 Gulf of Mexico Drive while protection of the lower end is at 2162 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Fire and rescue operates on three shifts daily with 33 employees, seven per shift and two lieutenants and one deputy chief. For the past 19 years Paul B. Dezzi has been the fire chief. The fire department was formed as a volunteer organization in 1953. A $1 million renovation of the 1994 northern building and replacement of the 1986 south end building is expected to start this year.

Police department building
Police Department - 5460 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

The police department building is next to the northern fire station at 5460 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Longboat Key came in second place, rated among the safest places to live in Florida, ranked by HomeSnacks. Police Chief Pete Cumming oversees 20 sworn officers, one reserve officer, seven civilian personnel and one part-time beach patrol officer. The department maintains a marine patrol to assist the coast guard and sheriff’s department to ensure safe boating operation on Sarasota Bay and intracoastal waterways.

Longboat Key maintains five parks from Overlook Park and Quick Point Nature Preserve on the south to Joan M. Durante Park on the north. Tennis and nature are big on Longboat Key so the Public Tennis Center by the town hall gets a lot of usage. Nature abounds in the Bayfront and Bicentennial parks.

The Bayfront Park Recreation Center building at 4052 Gulf of Mexico Drive offers a 1,350 square foot activity room to rent for parties, wedding receptions or meetings. Pilates, yoga, dance and physical fitness training are on a daily schedule when the building isn’t rented. The park has many other amenities including dog parks, one for small and one for larger dogs. Tennis, basketball, pickleball, shuffleboard and a multi-purpose field are designed into the plans of this park. You can rent kayaks from the private operators Happy Paddler Kayak Tours & Ecoventures. You can store your own kayak on-site for a fee. The pavilion is available for rent as a picnic site. Most recently the town created a Gulf of Mexico beachfront park across the street.

Recreation Center building
Recreation Center - With activity room to rent.

To help preserve the history of the United States, Bicentennial Park was dedicated in 1976 as a one-acre conservatory park with native plants, just west of the town hall. More to the north Joan M. Durante Park is a 32-acre site with Florida natural trees. Invasive exotic plants were eradicated through a federal grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Driving over the New Pass bridge you are greeted to Longboat Key by Quick Point Nature Preserve on the right and Overlook Park on the left, a popular fishing spot on Longboat Key.

Last week I listed a residence, 707 S. Gulfstream Ave., #601, a 2BR penthouse at the Essex House in the heart of downtown Sarasota. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
707 S. Gulfstream Ave., #601 $539,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Recreational Parks on Longboat Key - Part I

by Roger Pettingell

Nature is Preserved Through Park System

Part I is devoted to the parks and preserve on Longboat Key

Overlook Park at the base of the New Pass drawbridge
Overlook Park - This Longboat Key park is ideal for families to fish and picnic. There is a wooden walkway to Quick Point Nature Preserve shown here.

When we think of parks on Longboat Key and Sarasota we think of white powdery sand beaches first. They are there and nearby every beach you can typically locate a lush garden public park, each unique with its variety of plant life and wildlife. Some parks have tennis courts, with baseball or softball diamonds. Some parks are designated as a playground for children while others are strictly for dogs to play with owners and socialize with other dogs. You can launch your boat from some of the parks. Residents here love to kayak and there are plenty of opportunities for that. Best of all, they are open year round because our weather is conducive to warm winter activities too.

We can start our visit of the parks on Longboat Key with the first location near our office in the Chart House restaurant building at the Gulf of Mexico Drive island's southern end. Looking out our window we have a good view of the mangroves, the boat channel where dolphins are playful, and the multi-million dollar homes beyond the channel. To the left we have a good view of the bridge at New Pass, below which is the picnic area for Overlook Park. Overlook Park is owned by the Florida Department of Transportation but maintained by the town of Longboat Key. It is also the gateway to Quick Point Nature Preserve through a path under the New Pass drawbridge. This nature preserve is home to some of the area’s most beautiful wading birds, but also predator birds. Ospreys make their nests here for its exclusivity to perches and plentiful supply of fish for their diet in the shallow waters of Sarasota Bay. Quick Point is wonderful, but it is also a park where you leave your puppy at home.

Quick Point Nature Preserve
Quick Point Nature Preserve provides benefits to wetlands and mangroves on Longboat Key.

The preserve is also a protection of the wetlands from erosion and there is a man-made tidal preserve at Quick Point. It was formed partially from the mangroves and the natural lagoon. This tidal preserve is a lagoon that was excavated to different land levels to attract a wide variety of animals in the pond that was created from the excavation. Walk among the mangroves for another variety of plants and animals. There you may learn to identify the differences in the red, black and white mangroves that grow there. There are two upland areas at Quick Point, created from dredging project soil deposits. An entire ecosystem of plant-life exists in the uplands, including an invasive species of pine trees.

Next, drive up Gulf of Mexico Drive to the Town Hall area of Longboat Key and to the north gate of Bay Isles near Publix shopping. Travel by bicycle and you will find a great rest stop at Bicentennial Park. The one-acre park was dedicated on July 4, 1976 and deeded to Longboat Key through a cooperative effort of the bicentennial committee and Arvida Corporation in 1978. This park is designated as a Florida Model Garden and kept beautiful by such organization as the Longboat Key Garden Club.

Just a little past the halfway mark of Longboat Key you will find the Bayfront Park Recreation Center. This park is run by the town for recreational facilities and picnic areas to be enjoyed by all. There is a playground for children to exhaust their energy. There is a multi-purpose field for soccer and softball as well as basketball, tennis and shuffleboard courts. A community building can be reserved by clubs and businesses for a variety of functions.

Just under two miles north of Bayfront Park on Gulf of Mexico Drive there is a park to help preserve wetlands and forest areas on the island. Joan M. Durante Park is just past the Longboat Key police and fire station on the right. James Durante, husband to his late wife, Joan, donated the initial funds in her name and the first phase of this wonderful park was completed in 1995. Over the years the park was enhanced through funds, grants and donations from local and state organizations. These funds were used to remove invasive species of plants and replaced with native plants that helped restore the ecosystem on this 32-acre site. The money was also used to construct a wooden walkway over the dunes that were created to help stabilize the coastal area of the park on Sarasota Bay.

There are many opportunities to enjoy nature and participate in recreational activities on Longboat Key. Next week I will continue my tour of parks in the area by heading south from our Coldwell Banker office over the New Pass bridge for parks on Lido Key and in Sarasota.

I hope you are enjoying your Labor Day holiday weekend. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

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About Roger Pettingell

Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is your Longboat Key, Florida Luxury Real Estate Specialist. Roger provides his real estate expertise to sellers, investors, developers, and buyers in the Sarasota area including Anna Maria, Bird Key, Bradenton Beach, Casey Key, Cortez, Grand Bay, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Marina Bay, Osprey and Siesta Key. Search for homes, luxury homes, condominiums, investment property, development property, and vacant land and lots on the Longboat Key, Florida and the surrounding area.