From the Desk of the
City Manager
June 6, 2014
Pianos Downtown
Expect to see and hear pianos around downtown for at least the next year.  The City Commission on Monday night unanimously approved extending the "Sarasota Keys" program for one year.  And, more of the colorfully decorated musical instruments could pop up.  Currently, six spinet pianos are placed around downtown, and the Commission granted up to twice as many.  During the six month pilot program, City staff only received positive feedback about the pianos, which is a testament to the program organizers who have been conscientious about ensuring the pianos are a fun, enriching aspect of downtown.  David Ruggles, shown here outside Louie's Modern on Palm Ave., has enjoyed tickling the ivories around downtown and is pleased the program will continue.  Congratulations to Jim Shirley, Executive Director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, and supporters of the "Sarasota Keys" program for making the idea a successful reality.


  • Lift Station 87 Project Team Meeting 
    Mon., June 9 - 10 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • City Commission Workshop    
    Mon., June 9 - 3 p.m.

    City Hall - Commission Chambers   
  • St. Armands BID   
    Tues., June 10 - 8:30 a.m. 
    City Hall - Room 109
  • Downtown Improvement District  
    Tues., June 10 - 9 a.m.  
    City Hall Annex- SRQ Media Studio
  • Planning Board
    Wed., June 11 - 6 p.m. 
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
Current Openings
magnifying glass and text  jobs . conceptual photo.
Engineering Technician II
Lifeguard I
Manager, Information & Communication Technology
Manager, Treatment
Senior HR Generalist
Senior Internal Auditor

                                 Homeless Update

There has been a lot of attention to the homeless challenge on the Suncoast.  We know there is work we can do right now to ease the situation and create a safer environment for everyone.  So, I'm pleased to report that during the City Commission meeting this past Monday, Commissioners took unanimous action which will empower staff to address the homeless issue in a legal, human and smart manner, while ensuring public safety in the community. 

The City Commission unanimously agreed to reinstate SPD's Homeless Outreach Team.   We were making strides with this initiative, working with the homeless to place them in jobs when possible, in homes when available, and pairing them with needed social services when willing.  With the HOT Team reinstated, a newly hired social worker at SPD will take the lead and reach out to individuals on the streets in downtown.  He will help document health and social service needs, including mental illness which is a troubling concern since funding and mental health beds have been drastically cut across the nation.  The intent will be to work with the social services community to ensure the chronically homeless, and those with socially unacceptable behavioral problems, get the care they need.  One by one, we plan to make contact and establish trust.  As additional sheltering is debated, we will have boots on the ground starting social work triage, which is much needed on the streets.         

Homeless Veterans 
According to the most recent homeless count, 127 military veterans are homeless in Sarasota County.  The City Commission set a goal that one year from now there will be no homeless vets in our community.  Some of these veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental afflictions, as a result of their service to our country and re-entry.  We owe it to these individuals to reach out and connect them with needed social services.  I hope the Sarasota community embraces this challenge as we work to reduce veteran homelessness.  2015=0

Advisory Group 
Over a year ago, I established a working group to address the homeless issue, but it was terminated due to a lawsuit by Sunshine Law advocates.  The City Commission now unanimously favors discussing the idea of creating a homeless advisory board which would operate in the sunshine.  Throughout this great community, we have a tremendous amount of intellectual and financial resources.  It would be very helpful to bring key individuals into one room and share information and work together to manage this problem in a coordinated fashion while we wait for a come as you are shelter to open.                     

We continue to meet with Sarasota County staff weekly and conduct due diligence regarding the two proposed sites for the shelter:  1330 N. Osprey Ave. and 1800 East Ave.  Next, a joint meeting with the City Commission and Board of County Commissioners is scheduled for Monday, June 23 at 1 p.m. at the County Administration Building.  Whatever action is taken by the Commission, we will implement it enthusiastically.

This morning, I held a news conference to discuss these latest developments.  You can watch it in its entirety here:

News Conference:  Homeless Initiatives
News Conference: Homeless Initiatives

This Week's Items to Know:
Annual Street Resurfacing  On Monday afternoon, the City Commission approved a significant community investment:  a $1.9 million contract for the City's annual street resurfacing program.  Approximately nine miles of streets throughout the city limits will be milled and paved, including residential streets and primary roads.  This is the kind of infrastructure investment which is very noticeable and speaks to the quality of life in a community.

Throughout the year, our Public Works crews study the streets and prioritize repaving based on an established set of criteria.  We also
Nine miles of streets will be resurfaced.
welcome suggestions from the public.  This is a big job to undertake every year, and a big thank you goes to Capital Improvement Projects Manager Mike DelRossi for coordinating it and ensuring the contractor posts signage in a timely manner notifying drivers and residents about upcoming work.

We expect the resurfacing work to begin close to July 1st and run through December.  To see a map detailing the tentative 2014 repaving list click here

Arlington Pool Update    The Arlington Pool renovation project is coming along well.  After being drained and cleaned, the pool was
Filling the pool with 671,000 gallons of water. 
filled this week with 671,000 gallons of water.  And, work has started on the new cool deck surface surrounding the pool.  As part of the project, the outdated electrical panels and pumps also are being replaced.  The contractors are on schedule and we look forward to the pool reopening close to the July 4th holiday weekend.  Thanks again for everyone's patience while these much needed improvements are made.

S. Lido Beach Restrooms   Speaking of much needed improvements, have you been to Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach recently?  We have new public restrooms with an eye on sustainability built into the design.

As part of our interlocal parks agreement, Sarasota County maintains the park, and started construction on the new facility in May 2013.  One of the most noticeable aspects of the building is that it is
S. Lido Beach Restroom
The new restroom building at S. Lido Beach. 
elevated to withstand flooding.  Designed by architect Sweet Sparkman, it also has an unique architectural screen design applied to the exterior which is intended to mimic looking through sea oat stems.  (The design  received a 2014 American Institute of Architects award.)  The facility itself features low flow toilets, automatic shut-off sink and shower valves, and skylights to provide natural lighting.  A large cistern also is on site to capture rain for reuse.  In addition, handicapper accessibility has been greatly improved.

The project was finished in time for the recent Memorial Day holiday weekend, which was terrific because the park was full with sunbathers, picnickers, boaters and fishermen.  Thanks to our partners at Sarasota County for improving our community with this new asset, which is attractive, user friendly and environmentally friendly.
S. Lido Beach Restroom
Looking out from the new restroom building. 
Newtown:  MLK Way Streetscape Update    The streetscape improvement project along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way is expected to wrap up this month.  Crews already have removed select bulb outs
MLK Way Crosswalks
Crews preparing to install brick crosswalks at MLK, Jr. Way and Orange Ave. 
from Central Ave. to Orange Ave., and the installation of four decorative brick crosswalks at Orange Ave. started this week.  When the crosswalks are completed, the entire MLK, Jr. Way corridor from U.S. 301 to U.S. 41 will be repaved.  This is a welcome investment in the community and we look forward to the successful completion of the project.

Newtown - Playground Improvements    Soon it will be out with the old and in with the new, as we replace aging playgrounds at two parks in Newtown:  Orange Avenue and Mary Dean.

At Mary Dean, located at 1507 Central Ave., the two play areas for ages 2-5 and 5-12 are being replaced.  Meanwhile, at Orange Ave. Park, located on Orange between 18th and 19th, only the play equipment for toddlers will be replaced, since the other equipment is fairly new.  Both parks are within walking distance of residential neighborhoods and we expect the new play equipment will get a lot of use when it's installed in the next 2-3 weeks.  Just three months ago, new play equipment was erected at Gillespie Park.  These are positive signs that we're becoming more proactive with re-investment in capital improvements for children's healthy outdoor recreation.
Orange Ave Playground
Crews preparing to replace the Orange Ave. Park playground.

HARD:NOC Teen Program   A significant graduation ceremony took place at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall last week.  It was the very first graduating class of the Honorable Alliance for Reclaiming Destiny:North Sarasota Original Chapter -- better known as HARD:NOC.  The program, developed by staff at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex (RLTCC), was designed to expose young teenagers to a variety of positive character building opportunities.  During the past year, students met twice a week for two hours, with the boys and girls meeting separately.  The curriculum included sessions about avoiding conflict, interpersonal communication, self-esteem, etiquette, and table manners.  One of the most popular classes focused on gardening, and students ultimately grew their own tomatoes and strawberries which they happily devoured.

A total of 12 students successfully completed this unique program and were honored with a dinner celebration in the Grand Foyer at the Van Wezel.  (Thank you to Men's Wearhhouse and Every Child Inc. for providing the students' formal clothing at no cost and to Mattison's for providing the food.)  Congratulations to RLTCC Manager Jerry Fogle and Brunie Neira, who conceptualized and supervised HARD:NOC.  And, thank you to our many dedicated community partners who willingly provided insightful class instruction throughout the year.

We hope the students' success with the program helps them realize new opportunities and provides a framework for their future development as they become productive members of society.
 HARD:NOC students at their graduation ceremony at the Van Wezel.

Farmers Market - Hours Extended    You'll have one more hour to enjoy the Sarasota Farmers Market every Saturday.  Our friends at the Market announced this week that starting tomorrow their hours will be from 7 a.m. - 1 p.m. year round.  During the past few years, the Board of Directors surveyed vendors and customers, and determined that most people would like the Market to be open until 1 p.m.  Congratulations on this decision!  It's a win-win for the community, as it will give year round residents more time to enjoy the Market and boost the possibility of more customer sales at other venues.
Upcoming Events

U.S. Army Brass Quintet 
Selby Five Points Park
Fri., June 6
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

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  Van Wezel seats

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 click 'Join Our Mailing List' below or send us an email at

From sunny Sarasota,

Tom Barwin
City Manager
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