From the Desk of the
City Manager
March 21, 2014
Gillespie Park Playground
Crews began installing the new playground equipment this week at Gillespie Park.  The modern play structures will feature new ways for children to improve their dexterity, upper body strength  and eye hand coordination.  The playground, featuring three distinct structures, is expected to be completely assembled and ready for use by early next week. 


  • Downtown Improvement District
    Tues., March 25 - 9 a.m. 
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio   
  • Chair & Vice Chair of the Downtown CRA Extension Study Committee 
    Wed., March 26 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 109
  • Board of Adjustment  
    Wed., March 26 - 1:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Parking Advisory Committee
    Wed., March 26 - 3 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Police Complaint Committee
    Wed., March 26 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
Current Openings
magnifying glass and text  jobs . conceptual photo.
Administrative Specialist II  
Lifeguard I 
 Recreation Attendant
School Crossing Guard  

This Week's Items to Know:
Brother Geenan Way Update    Noticeable progress is being made on an improvement project that will bring better drainage, neighborhood connectivity, a kayak launch and a multi-use recreational trail (MURT) to the Alderman-Brother Geenan Way area of the Laurel Park neighborhood.  Since the project started last
Brother Geenan Bridge
A pedestrian bridge being installed this week across the Hudson Bayou.

fall, much of the work has been underground with the installation of two 38 by 60-inch pipes to improve drainage.  This week, though, concrete was poured over the buried pipes to create a 10-foot wide MURT.  A pedestrian bridge crossing the Hudson Bayou also was installed this week.  When finished, the MURT will wind through new landscaping (including 22 new trees and 68 palms), cross Osprey Ave., go over the bayou and end at Alderman Street connecting Laurel Park to Burns Square.  A kayak launch also will be available for public use.  We look forward to the completion of this project which will add significantly to our quality of place.  Thank you to the residents in the immediate area, as well as our friends at the Senior Friendship Centers, who have been very patient and understanding with this project.  Check out the video below to see what's been happening on the site this week.
Brother Geenan Project Update
Brother Geenan Way improvement project update.

Customer Service Ambassador Program  Approximately 400 of our employees attended an extensive customer service ambassadorship training session this week to fine tune their people skills and have a better understanding about why positive customer service is important for every employee.  While we hear regularly that most of our employees provide good customer service, it's helpful
Customer Service Training
Steve Rosenthal with The Training Tree talks with City employees about how to create positive interactions with the public.
for the entire organization to be on the same page with philosophy and approach, particularly as citizen expectations change.  Throughout the public and private sectors, we're hearing that people want speedy, quality service with a good value.  As an organization, we need to adapt so we can be responsive, consistent, and offer a positive interaction with our customers.  We're interested in your feedback.  Please let us know how we're doing at:  This training is part of a larger goal to reinstate valuable training sessions for our employees which were eliminated over the years due to budget cuts.
Customer Service Response Cards   For the past several years, our Building, Zoning and Code Compliance Division has invited customers to voluntarily complete comment response cards.  Routinely, over 90 percent of the comments are 'excellent'.  (In 2012, 97 percent of the cards were 'excellent', and in 2013, that number increased to 98.6 percent.)  I recently received the comment cards submitted in January and February 2014, and thought I would share them so you can get a glimpse of the fine work these employees are doing day in and day out.  From "recognized unusual situation and found solution" to "went out of her way to be helpful" to "one of the more pleasant and helpful experiences with municipal Sarasota services", these comments highlight why this Division has earned a reputation for being courteous and going above and beyond what is expected. This is the kind of professional, can do attitude that will help move our City forward as developers and business owners come to Sarasota seeking potential investments as we recover from the Great Recession.  Thanks to Director of Neighborhood and Development Services, Tim Litchet, who oversees this Division and a job well done to all the employees.  To read all the comment cards submitted during the past two months, click here. 
Shared Purchasing Initiative  We're making great strides in collaborating with other local governmental entities for purchases.  As part of the City Commission's current strategic plan, City staff is looking at consolidating efforts with other agencies, when mutually beneficial and possible, including sharing purchasing efforts.  City Purchasing staff issued a bid last week for Logo janitorial supplies in partnership with the City of North Port, Town of Longboat Key, City of Holmes Beach and the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority.  Inherently, this approach maximizes buying power.  Once the bids are received, each agency will have the opportunity to sign its own contract.  Initially, new collaborations like this can be challenging, as each entity understands its role in the group and the ultimate benefits.  This is a necessary step as we continue to look toward opportunities for regionalization.  Hats off to our Purchasing staff, particularly Purchasing Manager Mary Tucker, who spearheaded this project. 
N. Water Tower Park Grant   North Water Tower Park will receive some additional TLC thanks to the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program's successful bid for a competitive $300,000 national grant.  Known as the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program Grant, a total of 144 applications were submitted from the Gulf states, plus a handful of northern states -- and just 14 applications were selected SBEP for funding.  The grant will go toward construction design and permitting for stormwater improvements, invasive vegetation removal and public outreach programs.  This grant is particularly significant as we work together to improve the business and residential areas along the North Trail.  Congratulations to our friends at SBEP for assembling an outstanding grant proposal that will make a difference in our community.    
Tree Lighting  The trees around Selby Five Points Park in downtown once again are illuminated!  If you haven't seen the white decorative lights wrapped around the 18 oak trees surrounding the park, you're in for a treat.  The white lights are simplistic, yet add a festive air to the park, which we anticipate will be one more reason why people will want to spend time in our downtown.  Congratulations again to the Downtown Improvement District and Sarasota Downtown Merchants Association for being committed to this project. (Please note: In our last newsletter, the SDMA inadvertently was not properly credited for its role with the installation of the lights.  Our apologies.)
Selby Five Points
The tree lights are on at Selby Five Points Park.
TEDx Event  The TEDx live stream event that we mentioned in last week's newsletter went well Tuesday night.  The rooftop of the Palm Avenue Garage was filled with approximately 125 people sitting in lawn chairs as they watched a live stream of TED 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Congratulations again to everyone involved with this unprecedented event in our downtown, especially TEDxManasota, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Group and our City staff who worked closely with those organizations to make it happen.
Collage of photos from the TEDx event this week at the Palm Ave. Garage
City's Oldest Retiree Turns 100    A member of our extended City of Sarasota family celebrated a milestone birthday this week.  Dorothy Tuynman, the first secretary for the City's Fire Department in 1953, turned 100 years old on March 19th.  After raising four children of her own, Dorothy worked for the City for 24 years, calling it her "dream job" and "playing Mother" to 25 firefighters.  Decades later, when the City of Sarasota opened a health center to provide quality health care for employees and retirees while keeping costs down, Dorothy,
Dorothy Tuyman
Dorothy Tuynman in 2013. 
Photo coutesy:  Pat Guess
as a retiree, enrolled.  (It is especially gratifying to have our most senior retiree participate in this health care program, since staff has focused on enrolling more retirees.)  Dorothy was born in 1914 in what is now the area of Ringling Blvd. and Pine Place in downtown.  With the exception of one year when she lived in Miami and Bradenton, Dorothy has enjoyed the past century in Sarasota.  The secret to Dorothy's longevity, her daughter Pat Guess speculates, is just good genes.  Dorothy has many relatives who lived into their mid-90s and even 100.  She now lives in her own home in Sarasota under the loving care of her family.  Thank you, Dorothy, for your service to the City and Happy 100th Birthday!  
Upcoming Events

Celebrate Sound Sertoma Walk    
  J.D. Hamel Park
Sat., March 22 
8 a.m. - 10 a.m.  

Youth Art Festival 
Selby Five Points Park
Sat., March 22
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Downtown Sarasota Arts & Crafts 
Main Street
Sat. and Sun., March 22 & 23
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel:

Johnny Clegg with Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Van Wezel Interior
Sun., March 23 - 7 p.m.
The Moody Blues

Mon., March 24 - 8 p.m.
Patti LuPone
Tues., March 25 - 8 p.m. 
Where the Action Is Tour
Wed., March 26 - 8 p.m.
Buy Tickets

Indigo Girls with Symphony Orchestra
Thurs., March 27 - 8 p.m.
Buy Tickets
Thanks for reading this week's updates!  Don't forget:  If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please contact us at: 

From sunny Sarasota,

Tom Barwin
City Manager
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