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Letters: Help preserve the beauty of Sand Key

Re: Trouble brews in Sand Key | story, May 4

Help to preserve Sand Key

As chairwoman of the Sand Key Civic Association Bylaws Review Committee, it is time that our members hear the facts about the newly adopted bylaws.

The bylaws were written to augment and support the SKCA in its leadership role as being a meaningful voice for its dues-paying members in the process and dialogue that can influence how this island is redeveloped, before potential developers finalize their plans for approval by the appropriate government agencies.

In addition, with the recently adopted bylaws, the SKCA will continue to play a vital role in preserving Sand Key's beautiful beach.

We do not have a crystal ball to know what the specific challenges will be, but if the past is a predictor of the future, they will happen.

Last year, it suddenly surfaced that the county had preliminarily approved plans for an amusement zip line ride to be installed and operated at Sand Key Park. The SKCA listened to its members' expressed desires to stop such a transformation of Sand Key Park into an amusement park, and we were successful.

The Shoppes are for sale — again — and the Cabana Club Restaurant site is — again — under contract for sale and development. Clearwater Beach is a constant reminder of what can happen on Sand Key if we do not influence redevelopment plans.

In addition, the future renourishment of our island's beach will require increased monitoring, as it may occur in a very different state and federal fiscal environment from what is funding the beach renourishment project now under way.

The SKCA was founded 21 years go by activist leaders at a time when there was no beach on Sand Key as far north as the South Beach buildings and where a seawall was washed away during the "No Name Storm."

SKCA continued to enhance its residents' property values and quality of life by leading the way in putting utilities underground, getting our own fire station, increasing police patrolling and protecting lives with buoy markers off the beach, just to name a few.

In addition, these newly adopted bylaws provide the resources needed to implement the leadership that is necessary for the future of Sand Key. In order to accomplish this, your membership entitles you to be eligible to serve on the board, to promote board candidates, to vote in SKCA board elections, and to have a role in preserving our beaches, enhancing our quality of life, and protecting and defending the unique residential qualities of our Sand Key neighborhood.

Cynthia Remley, Clearwater

Re: Trouble brews in Sand Key | story, May 4

Is this a conflict of interest?

The Sand Key Civic Association has been refocused to serve and provide for financially benefiting a portion of the membership. This would come at the expense of all the membership of Sand Key.

This was accomplished at the April SKCA meeting by five board members amending the bylaws. These new bylaws were crafted to alter the previously collaborative purposes, processes and board actions. Former reasonable and more civil process has been turned upside-down, and it now becomes a confrontational organization with the adding of "to defend" in the stated purposes.

This gives the board a new license to act in matters added to the former bylaws.

New bylaws provide for "50% of the dues collected from membership" and "a minimum initial deposit of $25,000 of the Association's existing funds" to fund a reserve account. This reserve account is slated to be used upon a majority of the board's approval for expenditures for "hiring professionals, advisors, and consultants," among other things.

One could even say this action amounts to a form of theft of these funds, which were previously collected from all of the membership, to now benefit only a portion of the membership. Without putting in a penny of their own money for defense, a relatively few potentially affected condo owners could ask for and receive for their use and defense up to $25,000-plus previously collected from everybody and only partly from themselves.

This is egregiously, glaringly bad conduct.

Regrettably, three of the five SKCA board members who approved the amended bylaws own condominiums adjacent to two probable development properties. They could directly benefit from the use of the new reserve funds contributed by all of the membership.

In effect, their vote gives the ability to grab someone else's money to pay for the defense of the value of their property.

I suggest those votes definitely smell of a conflict of interest and (are) against other Sand Key citizens they are supposed to represent and serve. Sand Key residents and member condominium/homeowner associations are encouraged to reconsider their future membership in SKCA for next year and going forward.

You are now being represented by a largely self-serving special interest group.

Nick Fritsch, Clearwater

Re: Trouble brews in Sand Key | story, May 4

Purpose of the reserve account

I'm a numbers guy and I live on Sand Key. If you haven't read the bylaws of the Sand Key Civic Association, take the time to do so. This is what I discovered about the reserve account.

The purpose of the reserve account is to "preserve, protect, and defend the unique characteristics of Sand Key." How can any SKCA resident be against that?

However, what is most important is this: We now have an account set up should we need to be part of the process for redevelopment on the island, and threats to Sand Key Park like the zip line that happened last year, and that gives us an active role in the ongoing beach renourishment that takes place about every six years.

The creation of this account will mean we won't have to rely on a few volunteers who were not on the SKCA Board, as we have in the past, to spend hundreds of hours going around the island to ask for donations because the SKCA did not.

The SKCA has over $60,000 in its treasury that has never been earmarked for specific purposes. Now, it is, as a result of the forward-thinking board and the passing of the new bylaws. SKCA moved $25,000, which is less than half of the money held in the treasury, to the reserve account as its first step in funding it.

A second way the reserve account is funded is by setting aside 50 percent of the dues voluntarily paid by SKCA members. The dues we've been paying since 1991 are $5 annually per member. The dues will be increased to $10 annually per member, starting Jan. 1, 2013. Yes, folks, the total amount of dues will be less than a dollar a month.

The reserve account will be fully funded when it reaches $200,000.

The reserve account empowers the board with the necessary resources to do its job of "preserving, protecting and defending" Sand Key. For $5 a year per member increase, that is a bargain.

Mike First, Clearwater

Re: Trouble brews in Sand Key | story, May 4

A plea to fellow residents

Whoa! You good people on Sand Key! Would you believe that some of your fine neighbors don't think they will get their money's worth for an additional $5 a year to belong to the SKCA? That's a mere $5 increase over what they have been paying for the past 21 years.

Do you think maybe they've forgotten the fight the SKCA put up for those buoys off the beaches to slow down those speed boats in the waters where our kids are swimming?

Do you think they forgot the role SKCA took in our fire station, bayside park, crosswalks, Clearwater Community Sailing Center and the underground installation of the electric wires on Gulf Boulevard?

Or, more recently, what about when a major hotel chain had designs on our blessed Shoppes along the waterway — ones we could walk to for a quart of milk, or a smart beach outfit, or a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner? Remember our SOS (Save Our Shoppes) battle that the SKCA fought so valiantly to prevent a high rise hotel from taking their places and destroying the view of the condos along the north end of Sand Key?

And remember the outlandish threat to build a commercial zip line at Sand Key Park? Was there a one of you who wanted to see Sand Key changed from a lovely, residential isle to a commercial tourist attraction? I don't think so!

But you probably know your $5 a year couldn't make much of a dent in any of those battles without private donors funding planning committees and architects and appraisers and accountants and lawyers. To say nothing of all of the Sand Key volunteers and pro bono lawyer/residents like JoEllen Farnham and Cynthia Remley, who led the fight with a cadre of volunteers who live on Sand Key.

Do you think any of those encroachments might arise again? Do you think it might be worth putting aside an additional $5 per condo unit per year to prepare for such an eventuality?

It sure would be to my husband and me at the Cabana Club! Be a good neighbor and support SKCA with your $10 a year dues, paid by your condo association.

Phyllis W. Zeno and Harvey Meltzer, Clearwater

>>Your voice counts

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Letters: Help preserve the beauty of Sand Key 05/12/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 12, 2012 12:06pm]

    

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