From the Desk of the
City Manager
May 30, 2014
Payne Park
7-year-old Izayah Gough of Sarasota was having a great time this week climbing through, up and around the circus playground at Payne Park.  With its bright colors, musical instruments, spray misters and extensive play equipment, the playground has become a very popular place since it opened nearly two years ago.  Currently, it's open until 11 p.m.  To help curtail vandalism, we're proposing to align the playground hours with the hours that young children typically would be outside playing:  7 a.m. - 8 p.m.   The rest of Payne Park would remain open 5 a.m. - 11 p.m.  The City Commission will discuss the issue at its next meeting on Monday, June 2 at 6 p.m.


  • City Commission 
    Mon., June 2 - 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Development Review Committee   
    Wed., June 4 - 9 a.m.

    City Hall - Room 112  
  • Board of Rules and Appeals  
    Wed., June 4 - 3 p.m. 
    City Hall - Room 112 
  • Special City Commission  
    (Closed Attorney-Client session)
    Wed., June 4 - 4 p.m. 
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
Current Openings
magnifying glass and text  jobs . conceptual photo.
Human Resources Coordinator
Lifeguard I
Manager, Information & Communication Technology
Manager, Treatment
Rec Attendant
Senior Internal Auditor

This Week's Items to Know:
Gov. Scott Newtown Visit    When our North Sarasota Redevelopment Manager, Lorna Alston, received an unexpected invitation to meet with Governor Rick Scott last week, she was ready and prepared with supporting materials.  A small group of Newtown community residents arranged the meeting and extended the invitation, for which we are very appreciative.
Gov. Scott Visit
North Sarasota Redevelopment Manager Lorna Alston with Gov. Rick Scott.  Photo/Courtesy - Ralph Barnett
Gov. Scott visited the community to hear firsthand the people's ideas and concerns.  One of our top priorities in Newtown is the cleanup and development of the Marian Anderson Place property, located at Dr. MLK, Jr. Way and U.S. 301.  The City is in the midst of a lengthy process, working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to obtain a remediation closure order.  With that order, the Marian Anderson property will be deemed clean and buildable.  Lorna shared with Gov. Scott the critical need for expediting the remediation closure process and associated funding for up to $5 million, which would stimulate local job creation and have a significant positive impact in the area, increased tax base and other long term economic advancements.  Gov. Scott was receptive to the conversation and mentioned he plans to get a progress report from FDEP about the Marian Anderson Place site.

We hope this unexpected face-to-face discussion brings an important North Sarasota issue to the forefront for the Governor, and he has a better understanding of why development of the site is significant for Sarasota and Florida.  Thank you, Gov. Scott, for taking the time to learn more about why this issue, and the other concerns brought up by the community, are so important to us.

Hurricane Preparedness   Hurricane season begins in just a couple of days -- on June 1st -- and I'm pleased to report the City of Sarasota stands at a high level of storm readiness.  In conjunction with Sarasota County, we hosted a community meeting earlier this week regarding hurricane (and all Hurricane hazards) preparedness.  FEMA recommends that you be prepared to be self sufficient for at least 72 hours, if we face a significant natural or man-made disaster.  That means you're responsible for having enough food, water and medication for you, your family and pets for the first 72 hours after an event.  As we head into the season, consider your family's needs and how you will be ready.  To learn more about hurricane preparedness please visit Sarasota County's all hazard emergency services webpage at

New Emergency Manager - Welcome Todd Kerkering   During the community meeting, we introduced our new City Emergency Manager, Todd Kerkering.  Having worked as the Planning Section Chief for Sarasota County Emergency Management for the past seven years, Todd
Todd Kerkering
SPD Chief DiPino introducing Todd Kerkering, our new Emergency Manager. 
brings with him exceptional knowledge of the Sarasota area as well as State of Florida and FEMA resources.  He now oversees the City's Emergency Operations Center, located within SPD Headquarters, which opened last year.  Todd is hitting the ground running, helping us finalize our Emergency Operations Plan for the community as well as our internal Continuity of Operations Plan.  Welcome Todd -- we hope you have a long and successful career as we work together as a community to respond effectively to any hazard.

Twitter - 9K Followers Strong    An effective method to communicate during an emergency is social media, especially Twitter.  The City of Sarasota launched its Twitter account in February 2009 after learning that Oklahoma City officials successfully used Twitter to communicate with residents during a dangerous ice storm.  This week, we marked a milestone in the Twitter-verse -- 9,000 followers!

Sarasota was the first municipality along the Suncoast, and the entire Tampa Bay area, to incorporate Twitter into its communications plan. Twitter   We post real time information regarding road closures, garbage collection, public meetings and other valuable information.  Although messages on Twitter are limited to just 140 characters, we usually include photos and hyperlinks where followers can obtain more information.  Twitter is a powerful tool and an excellent way for us to communicate directly with residents and visitors.

If you're not on Twitter, it's free and easy to open an account at  Follow us @CityofSarasota.  Also, you can follow my personal account @TomBarwin.

Thanks to our Sr. Communications Manager, Jan Thornburg, for seeing the value in Twitter so many years ago and weaving it into our communications plan at City Hall, and for maintaining our account day in and day out. 

Newtown - SCTI Graduation Ceremony    This is the time of year for graduation ceremonies and the Sarasota County Technical Institute recently celebrated another graduating class from its Newtown Campus.  A total of 37 students were honored for General Education Development (GED), and improved Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) scores.  15 of the honorees earned State of Florida High School diplomas.  This is a significant achievement as these adults prepare themselves to be qualified for employment.

The SCTI Newtown Campus was established in 2010 as part of the North Sarasota Workforce Initiative to provide local residents with construction training to qualify them for jobs at nearby construction sites, including Robert L. Taylor Community Complex, Booker High School, Janie's Marketplace, and the Walmart Neighborhood Store.  Over the years, the SCTI Newtown Campus has modified its curriculum to offer other educational opportunities for North Sarasota community residents.  Congratulations to all the students for realizing the importance of education -- and good luck with your future endeavors!
SCTI Graduation
Students attending the SCTI Newtown Campus graduation ceremony. 

Bobby Jones Golf Club - Youth Boot Camp  Our inaugural boot camp to prepare youngsters for the upcoming PGA Drive, Chip & Putt Championship was a hit last weekend!  A total of 30 children, ranging in age from 7-15, participated in the free camp at Bobby Jones Golf Club, where PGA professionals offered tips and instruction on driving, chipping and putting skills.  This was a fun, unique way for youngsters to sharpen their basic golf skills for the Drive, Chip & Putt local qualifying event on June 7.  Another boot camp will be held tomorrow (Sat., May 31).  For the latest information on openings for the boot camp and the qualifying event, contact the golf shop:  941-954-4163.
BJGC Boot Camp
Bobby Jones' Assistant Golf Professional Daniel Bailey, Jr. assisting children with their putting skills during the boot camp.

Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week:  June 1-14    It's that time of year -- time for Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week!  From June 1-14, you'll have an opportunity to savor the best of Sarasota's restaurants without breaking the bank.  Tempt your taste buds with three course Savor Sarasota meals offered for just $15 per person for lunch and $29 per person for dinner.  Over 50 restaurants are participating, with nearly half in the Sarasota city limits.  As we head into the traditionally slower months for business here, we year round residents need to show our support for our wonderful eateries.  And, we can do so with this great deal.  To learn more about Savor Sarasota and to view a complete list of participating restaurants visit Congratulations to Visit Sarasota County for coordinating this tempting offer for the ninth year, and to the many restaurateurs who participate.  Let's eat!

St. Armands Circle Trip Advisor Award    Congratulations to business owners on St. Armands Circle for being awarded Trip Advisor's Certificate of Excellence for the second consecutive year. Trip Advisor   This award recognizes St. Armands Circle as a top travel location, consistently earning excellent ratings from travelers and Trip Advisor staff.  On a five star rating scale, St. Armands received a 4.5.  Long considered one of the jewels of Sarasota, it's rewarding to see travelers worldwide acknowledge St. Armands Circle for its shopping and dining.  A special thank you goes to the St. Armands Business Improvement District Board of Directors and St. Armands Circle Association Executive Director Diana Corrigan, who work tirelessly to ensure the extra enhancements provided by the BID, such as additional landscaping, are attractive and provide a memorable sense of place for our visitors. 

Farewell Fire Chief Tobias     After 35 years of public service, Sarasota County Fire Chief Mike Tobias retired today.  The Chief became a firefighter in 1989 and worked his way up through the ranks, ultimately being promoted to chief three years ago.  He now plans to tour our beautiful nation with his wife, Sharon, via motor home.  Thank you, Chief, for your commitment to public safety in our community over these many years.  Best wishes on your retirement! 
With retiring Fire Chief Mike Tobias. 

Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel:

Julianne Hough and Derek Hough Move Live On Tour
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
Community events are slowing down for the summer.  In fact, believe it or not, no special events are scheduled this weekend.

Thanks for reading this week's updates.  If you'd like to receive Weekly Briefs directly to your inbox click 'Join Our Mailing List' below or send us an email at

From sunny Sarasota,

Tom Barwin
City Manager
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