From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
March 13, 2015
It's no secret the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys is playing at our Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall!  The production arrived Tuesday morning and unloaded a total of eight semi- trailers over two days carrying all the equipment they will need.  (Some interesting factoids:  50 people are in the traveling company, 196 costumes and 65 microphones are used, and  there are 614 lighting cues during each show.)  This is one of the larger touring productions to come to the Van Wezel.  (Two years ago, Les Miserables arrived with nine trucks.)  Jersey Boys wraps up its eight show tour in Sarasota this weekend -- and we're pleased to report that six of the eight shows are 100 percent sold and the other two are at 99 percent.  I made it to opening night and it was a terrific performance.  Bravo to the Jersey Boys cast, crew and the entire superstar team at the Van Wezel!


  • General Employees' Pension Board
    Annual Membership Meeting

    Mon., March 16 - Noon
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commission
    Mon., March 16 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Cmte
    Mon., March 16 - 4 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • St. Armands BID
    Tues., March 17 - 10 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 109
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., March 18 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Cmte
    Fri., March 20 - 3:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

Coordinator, Facilities Projects
Database Administrator
Information Systems Security Analyst
IT - Manager, Professional Business Services
Landscape Maintenance Technician II
Lifeguard I
Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant  
School Crossing Guard
Sr. Case Manager
Treatment Plant Operator C 
   Utilities Engineer (Contract)   

Lido Beach Restoration

The Lido Beach restoration project is progressing well.   As of last week, it was approximately 2/3 finished, with beautiful sand from the New Pass shoal being delivered via pipeline to the beach. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the platform where the sand recycling is  occurring just off shore in the Gulf of Mexico.  The inspection provided a good visual perspective on how this surprisingly high tech operation is running. 
With City Engineer Alex Davis Shaw inspecting the beach restoration equipment.  The extended pipe in the background is the cutter head which pulls the sand up from the high shoal where sand has accumulated.  
This is a very sophisticated operation using GPS positioning, tide gauges, depth finders and other technology to determine the approved location and  limited depth where the dredging is occurring.  While the water may be 10.5 feet deep, crews are permitted to reach between 15.5 feet and 17.5 feet into the shoal depending upon the location.
A computer screen provides detailed information to guide the dredging operation. 

Using a cutter head extended into the water, 9,000 gallons per minute is extracted from the Gulf of Mexico.  Approximately 20 percent of that is sand.  With two 1,000 HP diesel engines powering the operation, the water and sand is pumped through a plastic pipeline stretching two miles over the floor of the Gulf, then deposited onto the beach where it is moved into position and leveled by crews using heavy machinery. 
It was very interesting to see the technical precision used on this much needed project. This will be important for us to understand as we move forward with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine a long term solution to restore and stabilize the Lido Beach shoreline and infrastructure.

Weather permitting, the current project is expected to be finished next week, including the demobilization of equipment. 
  A pipe stretching approximately 10,000 feet delivers fresh sand onto Lido Beach.   
Crews will use heavy machinery to distribute and level the sand. 

This Week's Items to Know:
Deep Injection Well - FDEP Approved & Operational   We have some great news to pass along regarding the future health of Sarasota Bay!

A geologist with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection inspected the City's new deep injection well system on the City's Utilities campus earlier this week and just this morning (Friday the 13th) the City received written approval to commence injecting treated water residual into the deep well.  The Utilities Dept. started using the well immediately. That means the City has ceased the legal discharge of treated water into Hog Creek which flows into Sarasota Bay. 

The City received the written approval just two days after the on-site inspection.  During that inspection, the mechanical and electrical components were checked and an operational test conducted to ensure the system is consistent with the terms of the FDEP permit to operate a deep injection well.
FDEP geologist David Rhodes inspects a gauge at the deep injection well site. 

In the City, treated water and treated wastewater are discharged via different infrastructure systems to two different locations.  Treated water residual, called brine, is discharged into Hog Creek.  Excess treated wastewater not used or sold for irrigation purposes is discharged into Whitaker Bayou.

A current FDEP agreement requires the City to cease discharge into Hog Creek and, instead, to deposit the treated brine into a deep injection well.   And, that's what started this morning.  The Utilities Department is now pumping brine from the reverse osmosis plant on the south side of the 12th Street campus into the deep injection well on the north side.    

Approximately 3 million gallons of brine will be injected into the deep well each day rather than discharged into Hog Creek.  That is excellent news for the health and sustainability of Sarasota Bay!

As good stewards of the environment, the City is not just complying with the FDEP agreement, we are exceeding it by also ceasing the permitted discharge of treated wastewater into Whitaker Bayou. We anticipate that aspect of the new system will be functional within the next several weeks, with 6 million gallons of treated wastewater going into the deep well each day rather than Whitaker Bayou.
FDEP geologist David Rhodes talks with Utilities General Manager Gerald Boyce during the inspection. 

So, in total, approximately 9 million gallons of treated water and wastewater will no longer end up in Sarasota Bay every day.  (The deep injection well is capable of receiving up to 18 million gallons a day.)

Although the deep injection well is operational, satisfying all the administrative requirements of the consent order could take months.  During that time, FDEP will monitor the new system and test the water quality to ensure it is in compliance.

This has been a lengthy, major and complex project.  Thank you to Utilities Director Mitt Tidwell and his team for shepherding this project through to completion.  It will have a significant positive impact on our environment!

U.S. 41/Fruitville Intersection - Dedicated Right Turn Lane   And, we have good news to share on the transportation front!

Two nights ago, the Florida Department of Transportation reconfigured the lanes on the southeast side of the U.S. 41/Fruitville Rd.
FDOT crews reconfiguring the lanes late
Wednesday night into Thursday morning. 
intersection creating a dedicated right turn only lane and two thru lanes.  A left turn lane leading to the vacant former Quay property was eliminated.

This improvement was made at the request of the City due to the increased seasonal traffic leaving the barrier islands, and we hope it helps alleviate some of the congestion we've been experiencing.

FDOT plans to monitor the new configuration for one month, then make a determination on whether it will become permanent.  Early reports indicate the change is working well in helping to move traffic off the Ringling Bridge more efficiently.

Hart's Landing Reopens - Bait Shop to Reopen Soon  We're pleased to announce the structural repairs at Hart's Landing are complete and the dock is open to the public.  The bait shop, which is operated by a private vendor, is not fully operational at this time, but the owner expects to reopen to the public very soon.  (Currently, he's resolving some interior issues with phone and electrical lines.)
The dock at Hart's Landing is open. 

Residents, and visitors alike, have been anxious to return to Hart's Landing since its unexpected closure last summer.  When we stopped by the dock late yesterday afternoon, a small fishing charter already was using the facilities to slice up their fresh catch.  It is
Anglers cleaning their catch of grunts
and snapper on Thursday afternoon. 
indeed a popular place! 

The City invested $187,000 to repair the dock and pilings after the structure was deemed unsafe.  We look forward to the facilities getting a lot of good use over the years.

A special thank you to the Purchasing Division for guiding this project through the process to ensure the repairs could be made as quickly as possible.   

Sarasota Half Marathon - March 15 Temporary Lane Closures    The 10th annual First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon & Relay will be held this Sunday, March 15 from 7 a.m. to approximately 11 a.m.  Please be on the look out for lane and road closures, and runners.
The course map. 

Participants will start at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, go south on U.S. 41, over the Ringling Bridge, around St. Armands Circle, then back to U.S. 41 where they will run to University Parkway, then wind through the  neighborhoods and return to the Van Wezel.

For detailed information about lane closures please click here.

The event is sold out -- another positive sign of a healthy, active community.  We hope everyone has a good, safe time.  If you need to drive along the race course, add extra time to get where you're going -- and please be patient.  
Old Bradenton Rd. - Update   The traffic calming, beautification and visual improvements along Old Bradenton Rd. are really showing now.  For the past week, landscape crews have been busy installing a whopping 3,453 new plants from Dr. MLK, Jr. Way to University  Parkway.  That's 1.5 miles of roadway with fresh new landscape.
New vegetation in the median on Old Bradenton Rd. 

Stately trees are now planted at the two new roundabouts.  At the Myrtle Street intersection, you'll see a Sylvester date palm.  And, at 47th Street, a beautiful royal palm has been planted.

The thousands of new plants dotting the medians include a variety of species:   bird of paradise, wax myrtle, yellow canna, spineless century plant, star jasmine, sand cordgrass and much more.  Along the shoulder, where stormwater will drain, bald cypress trees, which thrive in water, have been planted.

Three new SCAT shelters are now in place along Old Bradenton Rd., doubling the number, and bringing the total to six.  Two of the new shelters are very unique and quite eye catching -- handcrafted tiki huts made from real cypress trees.

We expect the new road signs (speed limit, street names, stop signs) to be installed next week.
One of the new tiki hut SCAT shelters on Old Bradenton Rd. 
Runoff Election & Charter Amendments - May 12   With no candidates in the District 2 and District 3 City Commission races winning a majority of the vote this week, the top two vote getters in each contest will move on to a runoff on Tues., May 12th.

The candidates are:

District 2

* Liz Alpert
* Eileen Normile (Incumbent)

District 3

* Shelli Freeland Eddie
* Stan Zimmerman (Incumbent)

Also, during a Special City Commission meeting this week, the Commission unanimously voted to place two proposed Charter amendments on the ballot.  Both items would clarify the Charter dealing with (1) the one year residency requirement for someone to be elected or appointed to fill a vacancy on the City Commission; and (2) the start of the 180 day period to obtain signatures for a citizens' initiative petition. 

With the Charter amendments being placed on the ballot, this will be a citywide election so all current registered City of Sarasota voters will be eligible to vote.

RLTCC - Spring Break Luau   Believe it or not, Spring Break for Sarasota County Schools is almost over.  To kick off their spring vacation, last weekend, young teens descended upon the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex for a luau. 

With the warm temperatures we've been enjoying, the water in the outdoor swimming pool was pleasant and a great venue for girls and boys to listen to music, talk, swim -- and not think about school.  This was the first time the RLTCC staff coordinated a spring break kick-off event and it was well received, with about 50 kids taking in the festivities throughout the afternoon. 

Thanks to the RLTCC staff and HARD: NOC teens for coming up with the idea and delivering a fun, safe and inexpensive way for teenagers to have a good time. 

It's back to school for the kids and grandkids on Monday!  Good luck to everyone, as students finish the school year. 
Teens enjoying a Spring Break luau at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex. 

Upcoming Events
Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles:
Tribute Concert 
Municipal Auditorium
Fri., March 13
7 p.m. 

Young Folk & Friends Union Gala
Payne Park Auditorium
Sat., March 14
2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Lido Beach Springfest Arts & Crafts
Lido Beach
Sat., and Sun., March 14 & 15  
10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.  

Sarasota Spring Fine Art Festival
Gulfstream Avenue 
Sat., and Sun., March 14 & 15 
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Evento Cristiano     
Payne Park
Sat., March 14 
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

First Watch Half Marathon & Relay 
U.S. 41, Ringling Bridge & more
Sun., March 15
7 a.m. - 11 a.m.

St. Patrick's Day Block Party 
Shamrock Pub
Tues., March 17
3 p.m. - Midnight


Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel

Jersey Boys
Fri., March 13 - 8 p.m.
Sat., March 14 - 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Sun., March 15 - 1:30 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Anything Goes
Itzhak Perlman will perform March 21 at the Van Wezel.

Mon., March 16 - 8 p.m.

The Manhattan Transfer
Wed., March 18 - 8 p.m.
Itzhak Perlman
Sat., March 21 - 8 p.m.
Audra McDonald
Sun., March 22 - 7 p.m.
Cesar Millan LIVE! will be at the
Van Wezel on March 26.

Jackie Evancho

Tues., March 24 - 7:30 p.m.
Cesar Millan LIVE!
Thurs., March 26 - 8 p.m.
Sarah McLachlan
Fri., March 27 - 8 p.m.
For more information visit

Hope you're having a safe Friday the 13th!  Have a great weekend in our special city.  And, Happy St. Patrick's Day on Tuesday!

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Tom Barwin
City Manager