From the Desk of the
City Manager
October 17, 2014
What we have suspected for a while was confirmed by Google yesterday when it designated Sarasota as Florida's 2014 eCity.  This distinguished recognition means Sarasota has the strongest online business community in Florida.  Using research data and algorithms, Google determined small businesses here in Sarasota are leveraging the internet to reach and grow customers, more than any other city in the Sunshine State, by offering merchandise, services and information directly from a website, having mobile access, and using social media to promote their business. 

Google stated in its news release that this recognition propels Sarasota into the ranks of leading digital cities throughout the United States.  That is quite impressive and a great foundation to build upon, particularly with three universities, a vibrant downtown business center and digital business incubators based here.

Along with City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo, I was pleased and proud to share the good news this morning at the HuB, a digital business incubator facilitating the growth of increasingly diverse businesses and the very kind of e-commerce Google analyzed.  (To read the Google announcement click here.)

Congratulations to our business community!  The possibilities are limitless -- including opportunities to stimulate job creation and bolster the Sarasota economy.

Photo:  L to R - Steve Queior, President and CEO, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce; City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo; Mark Huey, President and CEO, EDC of Sarasota County; Rich Swier, Jr., the HuB; Craig Worsham, 82 Degrees West; Tom Barwin, City Manager.


  • City Commission
    Mon., October 20 - 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Community Redevelopment Agency
    Mon., October 20 - 2:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Main St. & Orange Ave. Roundabout
    Public Information Meeting
    Wed., October 22 - 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Assistant City Engineer
Civilian Police Investigator
Director of Marketing
Utilities Engineer
Utilities Mechanic II  


 Bayfront 20:20

The Sarasota Bayfront is a jewel in our special community.  With it, we have a remarkable opportunity to create a park-like setting with many of the community's cultural offerings woven through it.  That's what City leaders had in mind in 2007, when they adopted the Cultural Park Master Plan.  Recently, the plan has been revisited and it's being used as a baseline for the long-range future of the Bayfront. 
A total of 75 acres is under discussion -- from the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall to the former GWIZ location and Quay site.  The City of Sarasota owns 42 of those acres -- well over 50 percent.  With much at stake, and the chance to create an exceptional cultural arts park, it's important for the community to gather as much broad based input as possible.
The Van Wezel Arts Performing Hall and its adjoining parking lot and public access are currently located within the area of a proposed Cultural Arts Park.   

Community leaders working on the future of the downtown Bayfront  formed a working group called "Bayfront 20:20", with the goal of having a clear vision in place, with implementation well underway, by the year 2020.  That organization will host two public forums later this month to engage citizens and garner input:
  • Mon., October 27
    6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
    Sarasota Garden Club - 1131 Boulevard of the Arts
  • Tues., October 28
    9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
    Sarasota Garden Club - 1131 Boulevard of the Arts
Bayfront 20:20 also has a new website:


Blending into this planning discussion is Mote Marine Laboratory's long- term vision for a new facility on the Bayfront.  This coming Monday, October 20, the  City Commission will consider a request for a letter of support for a new state-of-the-art Mote Science Education Center and Aquarium to be located in the general vicinity of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall subject to final planning and approvals by the City in conjunction with the Bayfront 20:20 initiative.      


This Week's Items to Know:
State Street Garage -- Going Vertical      A tremendous amount of work has been going on behind the fence at the State Street Garage construction site.  This week, crews finished installing 35 concrete columns on the ground floor of the site.  (The thickness of each column varies depending upon the location, the weight it will carry, and other factors.)  Extensive shoring materials are now in place, which sets the stage for work to rise up above the construction fence.  Starting next week, it's expected, we'll start to see the beams, decks and walls going up for the first of the five parking decks.  A live bird's eye view camera feed of the construction site is now operational and available 24/7.  Interesting viewing!   Click here to watch the live feed.  The Garage remains on schedule to be substantially completed by February/March 2015.
Crews installing construction forms around what ultimately will be an elevator shaft on the northwest side of the site.

Deep Injection Well - Big Delivery    A big delivery was received at the Utilities campus late last week with the arrival of an oversized crane.  The ongoing construction of the deep injection well system is at a point where new pumps and motors are being installed and old ones are being removed or repositioned for reuse. 

One hefty 700 HP pump and motor assembly was removed from service.  Three
Crews guiding a pump, which operates the reclaimed water system, through the roof. 
other motors (250 HP and 150 HP) were lifted high over the campus and lowered into position through the roof of a Utilities structure which houses electrical components for the reclaimed water system. 

This was a big job, with crews guiding the equipment from the ground, roof and inside the building.  Sizeable pumps (20 feet long) were extracted from the building via the roof and temporarily placed on the ground while crews moved other equipment, then the pumps were lowered back into place. 

Amazingly, all this work occurred with the reclaimed water system still functioning, which is why project manager Steve Topovski likens this construction project to a complex jigsaw puzzle.  Each piece needs to be in place before the next.

Similar work will occur soon at the adjacent treated water system.  Both the treated water and reclaimed water systems ultimately will tie into the new deep injection well system, which will be capable of receiving up to 18 million gallons a day rather than being discharged into Sarasota Bay.  The project is on schedule to be completed in April.  
Crews guiding a large pump to the ground after lifting it through the roof of a nearby structure on the Utilities campus. 
Sarasota:  Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador    The City of Sarasota is now an ambassador for the National Weather Service and its "Weather-Ready Nation" program.  Our Emergency Manager Todd Kerkering will join other ambassadors to boost consistency in messaging when it comes to weather preparedness and emergencies in our area.  By participating in the program, Sarasota is starting the voluntary process of becoming a FEMA Storm-Ready Community.  That means Sarasota can earn points in the National Flood Insurance Program community rating system (CRS), which ultimately could lead to flood insurance premium discounts in our community.  The City's next CRS review will be in five years and our goal is to be credited as a Storm-Ready Community.  Thanks, Todd, for continuing to look for avenues to ensure our community is plugged in at all levels and ready for any kind of weather event.

SPD NASA Waterborne Training   With so much water around our community, SPD officers undergo specialized training on how to respond to an aquatic situation or emergency.  Three officers (Sgt. Demetri Konstantopoulos, Det. Kenton Montegna and Officer Michael Skinner) recently attended a waterborne operations SWAT training course conducted by the Florida SWAT Association and NASA at the NASA Training Center on the east coast.
L to R:  Officer Michael Skinner, Sgt. Demetri Konstantopoulos and Det. Kenton Montegna. 

The training included learning about tactics to use when approaching small vessels which could be engaged in criminal activity such as human trafficking or drug running.  Attendees also learned about water deployment techniques to gather information prior to a tactical assault.

All participants were expected to be strong swimmers, and before the course began each officer was required to pass a test which included swimming 100 yards in boots and uniform, towing another person for 100 yards, and swimming 400 yards with fins in less than 15 minutes.  We appreciate these officers successfully completing this rigorous training to help keep our community in a good state of preparedness.

"Orphan Train" - One Book One Community    The New York Times best selling novel, "Orphan Train", has been selected as the Sarasota County Library's 2015 "One Book One Community" read-together book.  The story, about a 17-year-old girl who is nearing the age to leave foster care, has been on the Best Sellers list for over one year.  Kick-off festivities for "One Book One Community", will include appearances by "Orphan Train" author Christina Baker Kline who will visit Sarasota in January and speak at two different venues which will be free and open to the public.  Other events tied into "Orphan Train", including discussion groups and movies, also will be offered.

This is the 12th year Sarasota has participated in "One Book One Community", which encourages the expression of ideas within a community through a shared interest in reading.  It's a unique way to bring our community together.

I'll add "Orphan Train" to my always expanding reading list, and maybe you will too.  To learn more visit

Upcoming Events
Pride Fest 2014  
Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park
Sat., October 18
Noon - 6 p.m.
Selah Freedom 5K & 10K 
U.S. 41 & Ringling Bridge
Sat., October 18
6:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Donte's Den Dog Show  
Municipal Auditorium
Sat., October 18
5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Hungarian Festival 
Sarasota Fairgrounds 
   Sat., October 18:  Noon - 10 p.m.
           Sun., October 19:  11 a.m. - 6 p.m.      


Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel

Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (Educational Offering) 
Wed., October 22 - 10 a.m. & 11:45 a.m. 
Two performances of Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great will be held Oct. 22. 

The Ultimate Doo-Wop Show
Fri., October 24 - 8 p.m.

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

Norm Schimmel's "City Scene" feature photo below documents the changing skyline at Palm Ave. and Ringling Blvd., where an Aloft hotel and 139 apartments are now under construction.

Weekly Briefs will be on hiatus next week.  In the meantime, enjoy our special community.

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From sunny Sarasota,

Tom Barwin
City Manager

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