From the Desk of the
City Manager
February 28, 2014
Play Ball - You know it's spring in Sarasota when you spot scenes like this at Ed Smith Stadium:  Donna Borntrager, a diehard Orioles fan visiting from Baltimore, posing with Orioles Manager Buck Showalter this week.  Donna says traveling to Sarasota and watching the Orioles practice in our warm weather has been a dream come true, and now she can check it off her bucket list.  By the way, Ed Smith Stadium is in the running for the 10 Best USA TODAY Readers' Choice Nomination for Best Spring Training Facility.  Voting is open now through Monday, March 24 at 11:59 a.m.  You can vote once per day.  Just click here to cast your vote today.  The Orioles' first home game is tomorrow (Sat., March 1).


  • City Commission
    Mon., March 3 - 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. 
    Sarasota County Administration Center - 1660 Ringling Blvd.
  • Downtown Improvement District
    Tues., March 4 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., March 5 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Chair & Vice Chair of the Downtown CRA Extension Study Committee
    Thurs., March 6 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 109

This Week's Items to Know:
Garden Club Award  Congratulations to our Landscape Division for being honored this week by the Sarasota Garden Club for a Civic Beautification Landscaping Award for improvements to Pioneer Park.  Located in the Central Cocoanut neighborhood, off Cocoanut Ave. between 11th St. and 12 St., the park was transformed over the past several years from one that was overgrown and underutilized to one that is now a natural wildlife habitat and popular with nearby residents.  When the City assumed responsibility of
Civic Beautification Award
YouTube: Pioneer Park Improvements
maintaining Pioneer Park (and many other recreational areas) from Sarasota County in 2011, our landscaping staff levels remained the same.  Rather than dwelling on the added workload, our landscape crew focused on making it an even better park for residents.  The invasive species were cleared out and now leather fern and a variety of birds thrive in the area.  It's rare to visit Pioneer Park now without seeing someone enjoying this 6-acre urban green space.  Every year, members of the Garden Club tour Sarasota and select properties to be recognized.  We're proud that our team's efforts have been noticed without solicitation.  Thanks to the Garden Club for this honor and thank you to our Landscape Division which continues to serve with pride and excellence with more area to maintain but with 50 percent fewer staff members since 2008.  Job well done!  (If you haven't seen the improvements at Pioneer Park, check out the YouTube video above.)
Landscape Crew
L to R:  Tony Woods, Doug Baldwin, Matt Bartlett, Stacey Collier, Todd Kucharski (not pictured: Tony Freeman)
T.S. Debby Beach Reimbursement   We received some very welcome news this week from the federal government.  FEMA has awarded the City of Sarasota a much awaited $1.9 million grant to cover restoration costs for Lido Beach due to Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012.  An estimated 120,000 cubic yards of sand from the shoal on the south side of New Pass will be used to replenish and stabilize
Lido Beach Restoration
Lido Beach restoration in 2009. 
the beach which experienced severe erosion.  Since the storm hit, City Engineer Alex DavisShaw has been shepherding this project through an extensive process with the federal government.  We're now awaiting final permit approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in order to start moving sand.  That is expected to be in hand within the next several months.  So, look for beach stabilization work to begin shortly after this year's turtle nesting season.  Repairing our damaged Lido Beach will help prevent further erosion, and thereby protect vulnerable buildings, public roads and infrastructure.  It also will bolster the quality of life for our residents, visitors and wildlife who frequent this popular destination.  A big thank you goes out to our residents who have endured the eroded beach for much longer than any of us would have liked.  (Please note:  This is not the larger Lido Beach stabilization and protection project currently under consideration by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.)

UDS Tour   Our Urban Design Studio (UDS) team hosted a walking tour this past weekend in the Laurel Park neighborhood to discuss our new Form Based Code (FBC) initiative and Complete Street principles -- that is, how to create a sense of place on a street with all users in mind:  motorists, public transportation riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  The UDS' designated catalyst planning area to
UDS Walk
Residents participating in a walking audit.
introduce and implement FBC principles encompasses Ringling Blvd. from Orange Ave. to U.S. 301; and U.S. 301 from Ringling Blvd. to Mound St.  Through a visual audit, like this one, residents and staff can point out and discuss issues (such as street width and curbs) as well as potential modifications.  The event also included a tabletop discussion and design session which focused on U.S. 301, bordering the Laurel Park neighborhood, and ways to reduce traffic speeds while framing a sense of place and connectivity to Payne Park.  Suggested ideas (and these are very preliminary ideas) include possibly adding trees and/or a pedestrian activated crosswalk while working within FDOT regulations.  The residents who gave up their Saturday morning participated in a detailed discussion of how they envision streets in their neighborhood.  We value and appreciate their input.  This is an exciting opportunity for our community as we explore FBC principles for Sarasota.  I encourage you to consider getting involved to help formulate what our city will look and feel like in the years and decades to come.  To learn more about our FBC initiative contact the UDS staff:  Karin Murphy or Andrew Georgiadis at  941-365-2200 ext. 3650.     
FEMA Training   In this era of climate change and terrorist concerns, preparing to respond to catastrophic emergencies remains an important priority for City staff.  This week, 28 management
ICS Training
Staff attending a FEMA training session.
and operational staff completed the advanced 400 level Incident Command System (ICS) training course for Complex Incidents.  Tabletop exercises included responding to extensive flooding, a grocery store building collapse, overturned tankers, jail evacuations and major gas leaks.  Although we hope to never have to rely on this collective skill set, it's best to follow the Scouts' motto 'Be Prepared'.  Thanks to Gil Fernandez for conducting this FEMA approved training over the past five years.  And, after a 30-year career with the City, Gil retired today.  Best wishes!       

Bobby Jones Open   The West Florida Golf Tour recently held the Bobby Jones Open at our municipal golf course.  Over two days, a total of 75 professionals and amateurs competed for prize money totaling $16,000.  New York native John Duthie beat out the field and claimed top honors, along with a $3,300 tournament check, after compiling two rounds of (-4) 68.  The event was so well received by the golf community that plans already are underway to hold it again next year.  Congratulations to our staff at Bobby Jones for hosting this successful tournament which, once again, highlighted why our golf complex is the top municipal course in the area.  
L to R:  Bobby Jones Golf Professional Christian Martin, tournament winner John Duthie and Assistant Golf Professional Daniel Bailey. 
Golf Channel Follow-up:    In last week's edition, we mentioned that Bobby Jones Golf Club would be featured on the Golf Channel on the program "In Play with Jimmy Roberts".  As anticipated, it aired Monday night.  During the light hearted segment, "Golf Detective", the true origin of golf in America was traced.  Not only was our Bobby Jones Manager Sue Martin featured, but also our starter Bob Denisac, as well as renowned Sarasota historian Jeff LaHurd.  It's a fun 5-minute feature.  If you missed it, just click here. You may be surprised with what the "Golf Detective" uncovered. 
Upcoming Events

Save Our Seabirds Wildlife Art Show    
  Ken Thompson Park
Sat. and Sun., March 1 and 2 - 5 p.m. 

Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel

Alton Brown - LIVE - The Edible Inevitable Tour
Van Wezel seats
Sun., March 2 - 7 p.m.
Chicago: The Musical

Tues., March 4 - 8 p.m.
Chicago: The Musical
Wed., March 5 - 8 p.m.  and 2 p.m. 
Jerry Seinfeld
Fri., March 7 - 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
A sunny, warm weekend is almost upon us.  Enjoy!  

From sunny Sarasota,

Tom Barwin
City Manager
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