From the Desk of the
City Manager
August 22, 2014
It's the dog days of summer!  But, whatever time of year, this is a sight you're bound to see in downtown:  a Southeastern Guide Dogs trainer walking with a "student" near the non-profit organization's Main Street office.  We caught up with certified trainer Carl Magers recently while he was taking Gizmo, a young yellow and black Labrador mix, for her initial temperament walk.  Depending on each animal's personality, it can take six months to one year to fully train a guide dog to the point where it can help provide independence for someone who is visually impaired.  We're told Gizmo was doing well on her very first outing.  Good luck, Gizmo!  For more information about Southeastern Guide Dogs visit


  • Community Workshop 14-CW-15
    Mon., August 25 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Firefighters Pension Board
    Wed., August 27 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Board of Adjustment     
    Wed., August 27 - 1:30 p.m.

    City Hall - Commission Chambers   
  • Police Complaint Committee
    Wed., August 27 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Community Workshop 14-CW-16
    Thurs., August 28 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112

Current Openings
magnifying glass and text  jobs . conceptual photo.
Dir., Information Technology
Landscape Maintenance Tech II
Rec Attendant   
Supervisor - Public Works, Roads & Bridges
Utility Mechanic II (promotional opportunity)  

This Week's Items to Know:
Hurricane Preparedness:  T-FIT Exercise  A significant portion of planning for an emergency, such as a hurricane, is ensuring that employees understand their role before, during and after the event.  Maintaining a safe, clean water distribution system, a properly functioning sanitary sewer system and clearing debris from strategic roads are critical elements of the City's disaster response plan, whether the situation is natural or man made.  Within our Public Works and Utilities Departments, we have trained crews that would be the first to respond to an impacted area and make assessments.  They're known as a Tactical First In Team, or T-FIT.  And, last week, they conducted a training exercise.

The exercise included approximately 21 crew members who were
A T-FIT crew completes an equipment
checklist before driving their route. 
assigned the task to traverse a designated route.  Before leaving the staging area in their City vehicles, they completed an extensive equipment inspection and checklist to ensure they had the necessary items to handle road clearing and infrastructure issues.  That includes everything from a compass to a chain saw with extra chain to a valve wrench and caution tape.

While driving the designated route, crews were expected to familiarize themselves with that area and check on essential facilities, such as the hospital, evacuation shelters, fire stations, lift stations, elevated tanks and booster pumps, along the route.  They would report their findings and begin to clear a path, if necessary.

After a debriefing, Emergency Manager Todd Kerkering provided a tutorial on how to properly fill out documents to meet FEMA specifications for reimbursement.  Reimbursement rates vary depending on the kind and size of equipment, and how it is used. For example, a 16 inch chainsaw is eligible for $1.75/hour in reimbursement funds, while a 25 inch chainsaw is eligible for $3.20/hour.  So, it's important for us as an organization to provide as much detail as possible about equipment and the kind of work performed to help secure reimbursement for eligible expenses.
Emergency Manager Todd Kerkering providing instruction on
how to properly complete FEMA documents. 
As always, we hope we never need to implement this plan.  But, as we approach the height of hurricane season and keep an eye on the tropics, having successfully completed this exercise instills a sense of confidence that we are ready to respond to a community crisis should the need arise.  Kudos to our Public Works and Utilities Departments which worked jointly on this exercise. 

State Street Garage - Property Sales Approved    We have some notable positive financial news to share regarding the State Street Garage.  Following two unanimous votes this past Monday to sell the two attached parcels -- commercial condominium space and pad site -- the City is poised to open the $11 million garage in February/March debt free.  The combined selling price is $2.4 million -- which is approximately $400,000 over the total asking price.

The funds from those property sales will allow the City to quickly repay an interdepartmental City loan with interest.  (We essentially borrowed money from ourselves, thereby avoiding having to obtain a loan from a financial institution and paying associated costs.)  Once the loan is repaid, the project will be debt free, since CRA TIF dollars are already earmarked.  Debt payments associated with the Palm Ave. Garage will end in fiscal year 2017.  So, if everything goes as expected, the City will have two debt-free public garages within the next two years providing over 1,000 parking spaces.  Financially speaking, this will be an awesome achievement.
Vertical construction is expected to begin within three weeks. 
In the meantime, construction on the State Street Garage is going well.  All 52 pilings are in place.  Crews will begin concrete pours next week to form the pile caps.  We should start to see vertical construction really begin in approximately three weeks.

The Vue     Construction is underway at U.S. 41 and the John Ringling Causeway for the new $120 million project known as The Vue.  Crews razed the old Denny's restaurant on the site recently.  Now they're clearing the
Crews clearing the construction site. 
area to prepare for the construction of two 18 story towers with residential units as well as a 255 room Westin hotel.

During construction, the adjacent sidewalks near U.S. 41 and the Ringling Causeway will be temporarily closed and pedestrians will be directed to a walkway which connects with the City's multi-use recreational trail (MURT) adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton and One Watergate.  Crews are erecting a barrier next to the walkway to keep dirt and debris within the construction site. 

This is expected to be a lengthy project -- at least two years -- with some temporary impacts to traffic along U.S. 41.  The developer is coordinating with the Florida Department of Transportation to implement a manageable traffic plan which will simultaneously allow large construction vehicles to enter the construction site without significantly reducing traffic flow.  We'll keep you posted.
Pedestrians will be directed to use a partially enclosed
walkway adjacent to the construction site.

Milling/Paving Continues    The City's annual street resurfacing project continued this week with four streets scheduled to be milled and paved on or near St. Armands Key:  S. Boulevard of the
A crew milling S. Boulevard of the Presidents
earlier this week.
Presidents, Taft Drive, McKinley Drive and Bowdoin Circle.  Gulfstream Avenue, Kentucky Lane and Elder Lane also were milled and are scheduled to be repaved next week.  Traffic is being maintained.  So, please be on the lookout for crews directing vehicles.

During September, subject to weather, 12th Street, Briggs Avenue, Briggs Court, Shade Avenue and Lime Avenue are slated for resurfacing.  To view a map detailing a tentative list of streets scheduled for repaving click here.

SPD Citizens Academy    SPD's 3rd Citizens Academy is now underway!  23 city residents, including two married couples, a former mayor from New York State and several SPD volunteers, will spend 13 weeks learning the ins and outs of the SPD.

Police Chief Bernadette DiPino welcomed the class last week and provided an overview of the department's partnership policing philosophy.  Each of the upcoming classes will be different with a good balance of lectures and hands-on activity for the students.  Classes which have become student favorites during the first two academies involve students playing the role of a police officer and making the serious and sometimes immediate decisions that come with that profession.  During the criminalistics class, students go to a simulated "murder scene" and by the end of the evening they're able to solve the case with assistance from detectives and crime technicians.  Students also will take a field trip to the Knights Trail Park gun range to learn about firearms safety -- and shoot the kind of weapon SPD officers carry.

The 3rd Citizens Academy will wrap up at the end of October with a graduation ceremony with Chief DiPino.  The next academy is scheduled to start in February 2015.  If you're interested in participating, contact Officer Danny Robbins for more information:  941-954-0756.  Also, you can submit an application online -- just click here to get started.
Chief DiPino with the 3rd SPD Citizens Academy during their first class last week.

Children's Fountain - Fall Hours   Believe it or not, we're starting to talk about autumn.  With children back in school, we're preparing to implement fall hours of operation at the Steigerwaldt-Jockey Children's Fountain, at Bayfront Park, adjacent to Marina
Children's Fountain
Fall hours begin Sept. 2. 
Jack.  Fall hours will start the day after Labor Day (Tues., Sept. 2) and will be 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily, weather permitting. 

In the meantime, summer hours are in effect with closing time at 7 p.m. daily.

If you have questions about possible closures due to weather or maintenance, please call the Children's Fountain information line:  941-365-5318.

Upcoming Events

Gem & Jewelry Show & Sale
801 N. Tamiami Trail
Sat. and Sun., Aug. 23 and 24
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel

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

For more performances visit

This week we're unveiling a new regular feature to Weekly Briefs called 'City Scene'.  Whether nature, culture or pure human activity, our community is one of breathtaking beauty.  The west coast is the best coast.  And, resident volunteer Norm Schimmel captures this beauty with his keen eye and photography skills.  We would like to thank him for donating his time and talent for 'City Scene', a pictorial which will be featured at the end of our weekly updates. 

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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