From the Desk of the
City Manager
March 7, 2014
Lido Beach
Mother Nature dialed up mostly beautiful weather this week just in time for the many tourists who arrived in town for spring break and spring training baseball.  If it feels like there are more people here this season, you're right!  The most recent quarterly report from our friends at Visit Sarasota County shows that December's hotel/motel occupancy was the highest on record -- 61 percent -- beating out the previous record in 2005 (59 percent).  Going hand-in-hand with this news:  bed tax collections were up 18 percent, visitors increased by 10.7 percent and spending grew by 14.7 percent when compared to last year.  This is very welcome news as our local businesses recover from the Great Recession and experience positive economic impacts.  Sarasota is indeed the crown jewel of the west coast!


  • Lift Station 87 - Project Team Meeting
    Mon., March 10 - 10 a.m. 
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio  
  • St. Armands BID
    Tues., March 11 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 109
  • Historic Preservation Board
    Tues., March 11 - 3 p.m. 
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio 
  • Planning Board
    Wed., March 12 - 6 p.m.
    Commission Chambers
  • ManaSota League of Cities 
    Thurs., March 13 - 9:30 a.m.
    Commission Chambers
  • CRA Advisory Board
    Thurs., March 13 - 3 p.m. 
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio 
Current Openings
magnifying glass and text  jobs . conceptual photo.
Emergency Manager
Engineering Tech III - Project Inspector
Lifeguard I
Parking Administrative Clerk
Recreation Attendant
Utilities Engineer

Click here for all job descriptions

This Week's Items to Know:
Hotels/Motels - By the Numbers   Throughout Sarasota County, there are approximately 5,000 traditional hotel and motel rooms.  (When condo and private home rentals are included, the number rises to 15,000.)  2,791, or 55 percent, of the County's hotel and motel rooms are located within the City of Sarasota.  Five proposed hotels are in various active stages of the application and development review process in the City.  Should all five come to fruition, 950 rooms would be added to the inventory, making it much easier for visitors to stay within the City limits and visit our beautiful beaches, cultural arts venues as well as our sporting events.
UDS & USF Students   As part of an Advanced Design class, 13 USF architecture students made a field trip recently to the Urban Design Studio with their Associate Professor Michael Halflants to learn about our Form Based Code initiative, density, and both existing and potential code requirements.  The students were then given an assignment to create a mixed-use housing development with increased residential density on City-owned property adjacent to Payne Park.  It was a daunting task in the time allotted, and included creating floor plans and two different scale models, but the students were up to the challenge.  Formal presentations were given last week at City Hall to a jury which included UDS Director Karin Murphy, Principal Urban Designer Andrew Georgiadis and Planners Courtney Mendez and Ryan Chapdelain.  As part of the assignment, the students discussed how they achieved their density and overall design.  This was a complex exercise with the students receiving valuable, thoughtful feedback from our staff, and the students providing staff with reasoned explanations of the challenges faced by restrictions in the City's current zoning code.  Thank you to our staff for taking the time to interact with these students who are the future of the architectural and planning communities.
UDS and USF Students
UDS Director Karin Murphy provides feedback to USF student Christine Schorr while UDS staff member Andrew Georgiadis examines one of Schorr's scale models.
SPD Website & Ringling Students   SPD is collaborating with students at the Ringling College of Art & Design to give the police department's website an extreme makeover.  Chief Bernadette DiPino would like a fresh rebranding of the site to incorporate our collective community goal of partnership policing. Ringling College Logo   Nine students are working on the project via the college's new Collaborative Project Center, which coordinates with local organizations to develop creative solutions for real world business challenges.  The students are working together as a group to devise a new look and user experience for the SPD website.  In fact, you may have encountered the students recently at the Farmers Market collecting data for the new site.  They will unveil their final project at the end of April.  We appreciate the students' creative and youthful perspective with this collaboration and we look forward to seeing what they produce. 
Gillespie Park Improvements   It's out with the old and in with the new at Gillespie Park!  Crews dismantled the playground equipment this week to make room for new equipment.  At 20 years old, the current playground is due for replacement.  Within the next 2-3
Gillespie Park Demo
A contractor dismantles the Gillespie Park playground.
weeks, new play areas will be installed for ages 2-5 as well as 5-12.  The old rubberized play surface will be replaced with a fiber mulch material which will blend in with the natural setting of the park.  These are the kind of improvements which directly impact the quality of life for residents who visit this neighborhood park.  That's why every year capital improvement projects at our parks and recreation facilities are included in the City's budget.  These improvements are budgeted for $90,000.  We'll look forward to seeing some excited little faces when the new playground is unveiled soon.    
March Madness - Bobby Jones Style   For those of you who prefer your March Madness on the links, our municipal golf course, Bobby Jones Golf Club, is offering a reduced 18-hole rate this month -- just $45.25 Monday-Friday before noon.  (Normally, it's $52.)  We're excited Mother Nature is being more agreeable this season and the pleasant weather is helping to attract many golfers to all three of our courses which total 45 holes. 
BJGC - British
The British Course at Bobby Jones Golf Club.
United Way Contributions   The generosity of our employees continues to impress.  Our annual United Way campaign raised just over $20,000 for the United Way Suncoast, which provides financial assistance to more than a dozen organizations in Sarasota County and DeSoto County.  (By way of comparison, and to add a United Way logo bit of friendly competition, our colleagues at Sarasota County collected $21,000.)  To raise the funds, many of our employees opted to have donations deducted from their paychecks.  We also hosted a popular employee pancake breakfast and a dunk tank where several members of our senior staff braved the chilly water to be dunked for this good cause.  We appreciate everyone's contributions.  Thanks to our 12 member campaign committee for another successful campaign, led by Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown who also serves on the region's United Way Board of Directors.       
National Employee Appreciation Day   Today (March 7) is National Employee Appreciation Day and members of our newly
Expressing our appreciation to P.J. Hahn in the Human Resources Department
established Employee Appreciation Committee personally delivered balloons and baskets of goodies to each of our departments.  Gestures like this can go a long way to boost morale, and we want our 700 full time and part-time employees to know their hard work and dedication is appreciated.  Thank you for your service and let's keep up the good work!          
Upcoming Events

Sun Circle Art Festival    
  Sapphire Shores Park
Sat., March 8 
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Sunshine State Shootout (Disc Golf)  
Payne Park
Sun., March 9
8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Free Tax Preparation
Robert L. Taylor Community Complex
Mon., March 10
3 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Coffee with a Cop
First Watch - 1395 Main St.
Tues., March 11
8:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Click It or Ticket Safety Event
Hess Gas Station - 600 N. Washington Blvd. 
Wed., March 12 - 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Cooking Light Demo
Robert L. Taylor Community Complex
Thurs., March 13
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.
(Limited to 20)

Urban Design Studio:  Workshop
Robert L. Taylor Community Complex
Thurs., March 13
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.


Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel:

Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
Van Wezel Exterior
Mon., March 10 - 8 p.m.
Peking Acrobats

Wed., March 12 - 7 p.m.
Aaron Neville
Thurs., March 13 - 8 p.m. 
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Fri., March 14 - 8 p.m.
Thanks for reading this week's updates! 

From sunny Sarasota,

Tom Barwin
City Manager
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