From the Desk of the
City Manager
May 16, 2014
There's a temporary new addition to our downtown skyline.  It's something we haven't seen in several years --- a construction tower crane.  It was installed at Ringling Blvd. and Palm Ave. last week in preparation for vertical construction of a 10 story hotel with 138 rooms and 139 apartments. With a construction value of $31 million, it's expected to be the first of three or four new hotels in or near our downtown core, helping to fill a need for visitors who want to stay  in our downtown with easy access to our many cultural arts venues and just a short drive to our beautiful beaches on Lido Key.  The other hotels being planned could result in a net increase of nearly 1,000 new rooms over the next three years.


  • General Employees' Pension Board 
    Mon., May 19 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commission  
    Mon., May 19 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.

    City Hall - Commission Chambers 
  • City Commission Workshop 
    Tues., May 20 - 2 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Development Review Committee 
    Wed., May 21 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Community Workshop 14-CW-06
    Wed., May 21 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
Current Openings
magnifying glass and text  jobs . conceptual photo.
Customer Service Representative
Director of Marketing & Audience Development
Lifeguard I
Manager, Information & Communication Technology
Manager, Water Treatment Plant
Rec Attendant
Senior Internal Auditor
Utility Mechanic I

This Week's Items to Know:
New Mayor & Vice Mayor Appointed    During the annual statutory meeting this afternoon, the City Commission appointed District 1 Commissioner Willie Shaw to serve as Mayor for the next year.   At-Large Commissioner Susan Chapman was selected to serve as Vice Mayor.  Congratulations to both Commissioners!  We look forward to a productive year working with Mayor Shaw, Vice Mayor Chapman and the entire City Commission.
Vice Mayor Susan Chapman and Mayor Willie Shaw.

Construction Update - Old Bradenton Road   A significant milestone with the Old Bradenton Road improvement project was reached late last week when the new 12-inch water line, which extends
OBR Water Pressure Test
The new water line passed a two hour pressure test. 
1.5 miles from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way to University Pkwy, successfully completed a two hour pressure test.  This is an important step toward placing the water line into service.  Next, the line will be sanitized, then in the next few weeks, it will undergo comprehensive bacterial testing over a two day period by the Department of Health.  Once certified, the line will be divided into eleven segments, and homes and businesses in the vicinity will be placed under a short term boil water notice.  Our impacted water customers will be given timely notice before this occurs.  Unfortunately, this process is necessary as we transfer customers to this new water distribution line.

In the meantime, work continues along the Old Bradenton Road corridor.   This improvement project has taken longer than we expected, primarily due to the complex reality of coordinating the relocation of an extensive number of utilities including cable, telephone, gas and water lines.  We truly appreciate everyone's patience with this project, especially those who live in the Bayou Oaks neighborhood.  

Construction Update - Water Storage Tank    If you were in the vicinity of Orange Ave. and 12th St. on Wednesday, you may have noticed quite a bit of activity near our water treatment plant where we're constructing a new two million gallon water storage tank.  Crews poured the large concrete dome to cover the tank.  The roof is so sizable, 144 truckloads of concrete were needed, translating into a total pour of 1,300 yards.  That's a substantial pour!  The project is on schedule and is expected to be finished in August.  Then, the tank will hold approximately 25 percent of one day's drinking water needs for the city. 
Pouring the concrete dome on the new water storage tank. 
Synthetic Designer Drug Ordinance - Enforcement Begins
A problem sweeping the country has appeared on our streets -- the prevalence and use of cheap synthetic designer drugs.  Up until February, these physically and psychologically dangerous drugs, fabricated to mimic the effects of marijuana and cocaine, could be purchased legally in retail stores and elsewhere on the street.  Since the City Commission passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale and use of these drugs three months ago, our police officers have undergone training by the City Attorney's office and subsequently have notified retailers about the ban.

Commonly referred to as spice or K-2, one particularly insidious aspect of these drugs is that false ingredients -- or incomplete Spice2 ingredients -- are listed on the package.  While some of the ingredients may sound harmless, designer drugs imported from around the world have been known to be treated with chemical compounds similar to those used to make PCP and meth.

With spice being the current drug of choice on the streets, it's important to rid our community of it.  After observing open air dealing in the City Hall parking lot, the SPD Narcotics Unit, along with the Street Crimes Unit, launched an undercover buy bust operation last week.  Six men were arrested in the City Hall parking lot and charged with possession or sale of a designer drug.  (Three of the six informed officers they are transients.)  Since the new ordinance was adopted, a total of ten individuals have been arrested. Each could face a $500 fine per package, as well as up to 60 days in jail.

It is unpredictable how a person will behave after ingesting or smoking Spice one of these chemical compounds.  According to a Time Magazine article (April 21, 2014), emergency rooms and poison control centers have reported synthetic drug related kidney failure, seizures, and psychosis.  Locally, we've seen synthetics create breathing problems.

The new designer drug ordinance is a significant step in maintaining a safe and healthy community, where residents and visitors can enjoy a safe, pleasant working, shopping and dining experience.

Thank you to the City Commission for addressing this pressing issue and to SPD for beginning to take action. 

State St. Parking Lot Closes Monday   Reminder: The State Street Lot will be closed starting this Monday (May 19) as we begin construction staging for a new 395 space public parking garage.  Continuing our proactive approach, staff held a community meeting earlier this week to remind business owners, employees and residents about the lot closure and to offer parking alternatives within a healthy, five minute walk to the State Street area.

Alternative parking areas include:  the Burns Square Lot, 1st Street State Street Lot Lot, Orange Street Lot, and the Whole Foods Garage on 2nd Street.  We're also working on adding 35 on-street parking spaces in the vicinity by re-striping the road.

Staff is developing a user friendly map detailing parking options.  As soon as it is available, we will share it.

For those who use the State Street Lot on Saturday morning during the Farmers Market, please plan to make alternative parking arrangements.  For those who can walk the three blocks, the Palm Ave. Garage east of Cocoanut Ave. should have plenty of space.  We've been in close communication with the Market's Executive Director, Phil Pagano, to help spread the word about the lot closure and nearby parking alternatives.  We encourage anyone with parking questions to contact the Parking Operations Division:  941-954-7057.

State St. Garage Rendering
An artist rendering depicting the State Street Garage looking west on State St.   
Bobby Jones Golf Club - Youth Boot Camp   We're excited to announce we're offering a new free youth program at Bobby Jones Golf Club:  Drive, Chip & Putt Boot Camp.  It's geared specifically for young golfers (ages 7-15) who plan to compete next month in the local qualifier for the PGA Drive, Putt & Chip Championship.  Three skill stations will be set up for the young golfers to work on their driving, putting and chipping skills with expert guidance from PGA professionals.

The camp will be held at Bobby Jones Golf Club on Sat., May 24 and May 31 at 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.  (If needed, a second session may be added at 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. each day.)  The camp is limited to children ages 7-15 with a maximum number of 45 participants.

You can register your young golfer for the boot camp via email at or call the golf shop:  941-954-4163.  To see an event flyer click here.

One of the Drive, Chip and Putt reigning national champions, Bryson
Drive, Putt & Chip
Bryson Bianco is a reigning national champ after qualifying at Bobby Jones. 
Bianco from Tallahassee, started his road to the national championship in Augusta last year by winning the local qualifying competition at Bobby Jones Golf Club.  He won the boys category ages 12-13.

The boot camp is being offered at no charge thanks to the generosity of the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club, a nonprofit organization, which is underwriting the costs of range balls, refreshments, and staff time.  We appreciate their support and look forward to more collaborative efforts.  Many thanks to Sue Martin and her staff at the golf course for coming up with this unique boot camp concept!

Van Wezel Volunteers Recognized    We would have a difficult time hosting our many and varied performances at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall without our dedicated ushers who volunteer their time welcoming patrons and insuring they have a memorable cultural arts experience.  Over 300 ushers were recognized during an event last week as Executive Director Mary Bensel, staff, and hundreds of volunteers celebrated the end of another successful season.  Just how busy were the ushers and our staff this season?  More than 200,000 guests attended one of the 100 performances that included music, comedy, dance, Broadway, orchestra and much more.

Also, our Head Usher, Ann Bergeron, was honored.  After 15 years of outstanding service, she is retiring at the end of this month.  Thank you, Ann, for your time and dedication.  We wish you well with your second retirement!
Van Wezel Ushers 2014
Over 300 ushers volunteer their time at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

Upcoming Events

Walk to Cure Arthritis 
Sat., May 17
8 a.m. - Noon
Payne Park
Sarasota Spring Art & Craft Festival 
Sat. and Sun., May 17 & 18
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Main Street 

Harvey Milk Festival    
 Sat., May 17  
2:30 p.m. - Midnight
Selby Five Points Park

Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel:

Julianne Hough and Derek Hough Move Live On Tour
Van Wezel Interior
Sun., June 15 - 7 p.m. & 2 p.m. 
Friday Fest - Yesterdayze 
Fri., June 27 - 5 p.m.
FREE Outdoor Concert 

American Idol Live!
Thurs., July 17 - 8 p.m.
Friday Fest - Come Back Alice
Fri., July 25 - 5 p.m.
FREE Outdoor Concert


Friday Fest - SoulRcoaster
Fri., August 22 - 5 p.m.
FREE Outdoor Concert
Friday Fest - Adrian Ray
Fri., Sept. 26 - 5 p.m.
FREE Outdoor Concert
Thanks for reading this week's updates!  If you'd like to receive Weekly Briefs directly to your inbox just send us an email at

From sunny Sarasota,

Tom Barwin
City Manager
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