Partnerships are always a challenge. To succeed, everyone must be in alignment.
When there’s misalignment, they typically don’t work or end well.
That’s in the private sector.
Now consider that increasingly familiar organism: the public-private partnership.
Difficulties and challenges become magnified, and reaching the ultimate goal almost always takes far longer than it would in the private sector.
Two cases in point: the Bay Park Conservancy and city of Sarasota; and town of Longboat Key, Ringling College of Art and Design and the Longboat Key Foundation.
Both efforts — redeveloping the city’s 53 acres surrounding the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and developing a Longboat Key Arts, Culture and Education Center — have been underway for about five years.
This past Monday, the Bay Park Conservancy achieved a major milestone when the city agreed to a partnership agreement with the conservancy. Here in Longboat, the Town Commission inched ahead Monday toward finalizing a memorandum of understanding with Ringling College.
The partnership on Longboat still appears to be a slow climb.
But that slow pace sometimes can be viewed as a good thing: Elected officials want to get it right as much as possible. That’s the typical M.O. with the Longboat Key Town Commission. It picks and pecks at every detail.
Mayor George Spoll and Vice Mayor Ed Zunz don’t want to expose town taxpayers with slipshod decision making. They want listed in the memorandum of understanding 35 possible types of programs that would be offered in a new arts and culture center, along with the specific types of rooms and classrooms that would be included. Really?
On the other side, Commissioner Mike Haycock and Longboat Key Foundation Chair Jeff Mayers also make valid points: Fellas, let’s move on; those details should be decided later. Mayers also made the salient point of “the longer we continue to delay, this is going to hurt our credibility.”
At this point, it’s a strain to see a three-way alignment. You also can say the Town Commission really doesn’t know taxpayers’ and residents’ appetite for such a center. Perhaps that’s a place to start.
Let’s hear what Longboaters have to say. Go online for our six-question survey.