From the Desk of the
City Manager
September 26, 2014
Besides being an attraction for avid amateur golfers, Bobby Jones Golf Club is a haven for wildlife.  A course landscape worker, Lalo Zavala, snapped this remarkable image (with his phone) of two pileated woodpeckers on the British Course.  (You could say, two birdies are possible at Bobby Jones.)  Bald eagles and sandhill cranes also are regular visitors as well as families of alligators and raccoons.  The natural habitat is a charming aspect of our municipal golf course. The City Commission is now considering enhancing golfers' experience. Recently, the  Commission approved creating a citizens advisory committee to make recommendations for RFP (request for proposal) criteria which would be used to search for an expert to develop a master plan for Bobby Jones Golf Club.  We'll keep you posted on what is expected to be a comprehensive endeavor with a positive outcome for the community.


  • Community Workshop 14-CW-18
    Mon., September 29 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Downtown Improvement District
    Tues., September 30 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • City Commission Workshop
    Tues., September 30 - 5 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., October 1 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Independent Police Advisory Panel
    Wed., October 1 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Independent Police Advisory Panel
    Thurs., October 2 -10 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Community Workshop 14-CW-19
    Thurs., October 2 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Arborist I
Rec Attendant
Supervisor - Landscape Maintenance
Treatment Plant Operator B

Medical Marijuana

With at least one statewide poll this summer showing as much as 70 percent approval for Amendment 2, legalizing medical marijuana, many municipalities already are being proactive and making plans to regulate potential treatment centers, also known as dispensaries. Over 20 governmental bodies -- from Orange County to Delray Beach to Naples -- are currently considering adopting ordinances or already have adopted ordinances regulating the future locations and operations of medical marijuana dispensaries.

Bans, moratoriums and revisions to land use codes are some of the common methods being considered by governmental entities.  In some cases, within land use regulations, treatment centers are being considered a special exception or a conditional use.  Hours of operation; drive thru service; proximity to schools, parks, churches and residential homes are also being codified.  Secondary issues including licensing requirements, license fees, distinctions between retail sales and residential cultivations, outdoor smoking, and loitering also are being addressed as well as establishing penalties for violations.
Earlier this week, one of our neighboring jurisdictions, the City of Palmetto, adopted an ordinance allowing dispensaries in its commercial heavy industrial zone.

While getting a head start on local regulations may sound productive, ultimately it may not be effective.  Some legal experts wonder whether a local ordinance passed before approval of the amendment would carry any weight.  One primary reason is that the state legislature would need to pass implementing language for the amendment -- and that language could preempt local ordinances.

If Amendment 2 passes, the Florida Department of Health would have until July 6, 2015 to develop regulations regarding qualifying and identifying patients, issuing patient and caregiver identification cards, and registering dispensaries. 

While there was strong support for Amendment 2 over the summer, a poll conducted this month by Public Polling shows support dipping to 61 percent.  Approval would require at least 60 percent of voters to support the measure.

We'll continue to monitor this complex issue.

This Week's Items to Know:
Bond Ratings Affirmed      We are pleased to announce more positive financial news from City Hall.  Fitch Ratings affirmed the City's rating for the 2007 general obligation (GO) bonds at AA+ and the 2010 revenue bonds at AA.  Those are two of the five highest bond ratings given by Fitch.  The financial outlook for the City of Sarasota is listed as stable.

Fitch Ratings cited a strong economic recovery, adequate reserves and moderate debt as positive indicators.  The City's high fixed costs for pension liabilities, as well as retiree health care costs, are acknowledged, but Fitch notes that the City has taken proactive steps to limit these long term liabilities.  Our Finance Department and Human Resources Department continue to explore options to reduce these fixed costs while maintaining quality benefits for retirees. 

These ratings are another positive sign that the City is on the right track toward fiscal sustainability.

Click here to read Fitch Ratings' detailed news release announcing the City's affirmed bond ratings.

House Move  There's going to be a big move in Sarasota next week that will impact traffic in the early morning hours.  The Neighborhood and Development Services Department issued a right-of-way use permit for a single family home to be moved along local streets from one side of the city limits to the other.

The house, currently located near Osprey Ave. and Prospect St., will be relocated approximately 7.5 miles to Highland St.  The move is scheduled for Wed., October 1 from 4 a.m. - 6 a.m.

Once loaded onto a truck and ready to move, the house will creep northward, with two police escorts, traveling at no more than 20 mph.  At 52 feet long and 25 feet wide, the extra wide load will follow U.S. 301 north toward University Parkway, a route approved by the Florida Department of Transportation.  A traffic signal operator will accompany the procession to ensure the traffic lights are coordinated to facilitate the move.  To see a map of the approved route click here.

Approximately once a year the City is approached about issuing a permit to move a large structure like this.  We wish the homeowner and moving company, which is based in nearby Parrish, the best of luck.
This house will travel a 7.5 mile route on Wed., October 1 from 4 a.m. - 6 a.m.

Tourism Update - Record Setting Pace    Once again, we're receiving upbeat news from Visit Sarasota County.  During the current fiscal year, the number of visitors to our area has increased just over five percent.  They continue to spend, with direct
A view of Sarasota Bay from Bayfront Park. 
expenditures throughout Sarasota County increasing 10 percent from last year.  Also, we're continuing to see signs that Sarasota is becoming a year round destination.  This past July, Sarasota County experienced the highest hotel occupancy ever for the month at 77.5 percent.  Known for irresistible weather and natural beauty, Sarasota also continues to build upon its reputation as a small town with big city amenities, particularly with the cultural arts.

Visitors are expected in the area next month for the Ringling International Arts Festival, plus a new festival called SarasotaMOD, which will celebrate our uniquely Sarasota architecture.  The inaugural SarasotaMOD, October 9-12, is expected to draw visitors from all over who enjoy architecture and would like to learn about the Sarasota School of Architecture.  The combination of subject matter and world class destination attracted the attention recently of the New York Times.  This is just one example of how word continues to spread about our special area and why people want to visit. 

To read the New York Times article click here and to learn more about SarasotaMod click here.

Payne Park Tennis Center - Annual Pass Special    Love tennis and a good deal?  This tidbit is for you!  Payne Park Tennis Center, owned by the City of Sarasota and managed by Sarasota County, is
A discount is being offered for first time annual pass purchasers. 
offering a discount for first time annual pass holders.  From October 1 - November 17, first time purchasers will receive a 15 percent discount -- just $395 for the entire year.  The pass entitles users to unlimited access to 12 well maintained clay courts, 3 day advance reservations, and discounts on activities.  There are no initiation fees or monthly fees.  The facility is located adjacent to our beautiful Payne Park in downtown. 

For more information, contact the Tennis Center:  941-861-8193 or click here.

War Memorial Plaque   If you take a close look at the War Memorial at Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park in downtown Sarasota, you may notice something missing:  one of the bronze plaques honoring the fallen.  

The Sarasota County Patriotic Observance Committee recently
War Memorial
This plaque is expected to return to Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park by Nov. 11.
approached the City about refurbishing the plaque which pays tribute to local military personnel who gave their lives during Vietnam and the War on Terrorism.  The plaque will be cleaned and names of the recently fallen will be added.

It is anticipated the plaque will be back by Veterans Day (Tues., November 11) at which time it will be unveiled during a memorial service following the annual Veterans Day parade.  (The parade starts at Osprey Ave. and Main St. at 10 a.m. and concludes at Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park.)   Look for more information about this event as November 11 draws closer. 

A big thank you goes to the Patriotic Observance Committee for taking the initiative to care for this memorial and ensuring Sarasotans who made the ultimate sacrifice are honored and remembered.

Sister Cities Award     Congratulations to the Sarasota Sister Cities Association (SSCA) for being honored with the Sister Cities International 2014 First Prize for Innovation.  SSCA hosted a sustainability conference last year in cooperation with the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.  It was the first conference of its kind to be held on the west coast of Florida, with participants from area colleges and universities, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency, Mote Marine Laboratory and six of Sarasota's eight sister cities.

Topics of discussion included the eco-municipality movement in Sweden (a template for smaller communities across the globe); sustainable buildings, communities, businesses and tourism; and energy creation, including solar, biomass and ocean currents.

This was a great exchange of ideas and thoughts by individuals from various nations, which is what the Sister Cities program is about -- becoming a citizen diplomat and developing peaceful relationships with others around the world.

The innovation award was presented to SSCA President Beth Ruyle Hullinger during the 58th annual conference of Sister Cities International held recently in San Jose, California.  Bravo!

Sarasota has eight sister cities spanning the globe:  Dunfermline, Scotland; Hamilton, Canada; Merida, Mexico; Perpignan, France; Tel Mond, Israel; Treviso, Italy; Vladimir, Russia; and Xiamen (Siming District), China.

SSCA is approximately 300 members strong.  If you'd like to learn more, visit their website
Attending the Sister Cities International annual conference (L to R):  Ron Gossett, Craig Hullinger, Beth Ruyle Hullinger, Shirley Gossett, Gayle Maxey and Tom Halbert. 

Upcoming Events
IFA Redfish Tournament 
Centennial Park
Sat., September 27 
6 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Flip Flop Walk for Autism 
Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park/Ringling Bridge
Sat., September 27
8 a.m. - 11 a.m.

National Public Lands Day 
Arlington Park - 2650 Waldemere St.
Sat., September 27
9 a.m. - Noon

Blue + You Movie Night  
SPD Headquarters - 2099 Adams Lane
(Movie displayed outside)
Sat., September 27
7:30 p.m.

Get Your Pink On 
Sarasota Herald-Tribune -1741 Main Street
Tues., September 30
               7 p.m. - 8 p.m.               

Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel

Friday Fest - Adrian Ray
Fri., Sept. 26 - 5 p.m.
FREE Outdoor Concert

Peter Frampton
Wed., October 1 - 8 p.m.

Eve of Jackie
Mon., October 6 - 8 p.m.

Martina McBride
Thurs., October 16 - 8 p.m.

Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group
Fri., October 17 - 8 p.m.

Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (Educational Offering) 
Wed., October 22 - 10 a.m. & 11:45 a.m. 

The Ultimate Doo-Wop Show
Fri., October 24 - 8 p.m.
Bill Maher will perform Sun., October 26
at the Van Wezel. 

Bill Maher
Sun., October 26 - 7 p.m. 

Shen Yun Orchestra 
Mon., October 27 - 7:30 p.m.

: Single tickets for the full 2014-15 season are now on sale!  For more information visit

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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