Gulf of Mexico Drive Sidewalk Repairs Planned After Longboat Key Couple File Lawsuit | Rowboat key
Al and Dottye Van Iten enjoy the friendships they developed with their Twin Shores neighbors while wintering in Longboat Key.
The couple have spent the past 15 years traveling to the island from Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.
In January, the Van Itens arrived in Longboat and immediately noticed that the sidewalk on Gulf of Mexico Drive had been torn up right in front of their house.
“(Normally) we look at the Gulf of Mexico here at the dinner table and it’s a nice nice look,” Al Van Iten said. “Well, what do you see now? A (view) abandoned.
Public Works Project Manager James Linkogle explained how Frontier Communications needed to repair a copper telephone line.
“In order to accomplish this repair, they had to rip out a section of the sidewalk and everything,” Linkogle said.
Linkogle said the phone line repair was complete, but Frontier was responsible for resurfacing the sidewalk. He said the city has been in contact with the company, particularly Frontier communications manager John Plott.
Linkogle also reached out to the Van Itens to find out how the city is working to coordinate with Frontier.
AVP Corporate Communications spokeswoman Brigid Smith said in an email to the Observer that Frontier plans to make repairs next week.
On Monday, January 17, Frontier must clear the area. Smith said new concrete would be poured on Tuesday, Jan. 18 or Wednesday, Jan. 19.
“It was an air pressure cable repair,” Smith wrote. “I ask our people to reach out to customers to apologize for the delay.”
Twin Shores neighbors told the Van Itens the sidewalk has been closed since October 2021. To avoid the closure, walkers and cyclists must cross the concrete parking lot in front of the Van Itens’ home.
Under normal circumstances, when the sidewalk is open, it allows cars traveling on GMD to enter the Twin Shores community. The only turn now is on Twin Shores Boulevard, which runs east to west.
“My question was, ‘Would (City Hall) allow this to happen if it was in their driveway? Said Al Van Iten. “Would they allow it if it was on one of their golf courses or at Publix, one of their entrances?”
To find a solution, the Van Itens tried to get to Frontier’s office at 1701 Ringling Blvd. in downtown Sarasota.
“We went there,” said Dottye Van Iten. “There is a sign. As of December 19, there is no one (there). It’s closed.”
The Van Itens also said sand from repairs frequently blew into their screened porch in front of their home.
“The big problem is what we have to deal with here in front of our kitchen,” said Al Van Iten. “We get sand and our sight is screwed up. When you sit at the table, you look at a construction site.
“That’s not what Longboat Key stands for.”
Linkogle explained how the work relates to the city’s landfill utility project.
“Our contractor damaged a few phone lines that weren’t marked in this section, so they had to come in and do the repair,” Linkogle said. “It’s old copper phone lines that are in the ground, and (there’s) not a lot of customers on them, but there are a few…Obviously they can’t just transfer them over another line.”
Al Van Iten also expressed frustration over how the city has to save $3.7 million in its landfill project, but the sidewalk in front of his house is not repaired.
“I’m thinking now, wait a minute. Millions of dollars, they charged all these people to put it all together, and then an article comes out that they saved a lot of money, but it’s not over yet,” Al Van Iten said.
For now, flooding remains unlikely given that the Atlantic hurricane season ended on November 30, 2021. However, copper telephone wire remains exposed in the event of heavy rain.
“I just don’t like not getting answers,” Al Van Iten said.
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