From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
March 20, 2015
A topping out celebration, including a barbecue lunch, was held at the State Street Garage construction site this afternoon (Fri., March 20).  Typically, a topping out event recognizes the end of vertical construction for a project and key project personnel and construction workers are invited to celebrate the milestone.  Congratulations to everyone on this phase of the project as the facade work begins.  (More photos are posted on Twitter and Facebook.)

The State Street Garage, which will provide our downtown with approximately 395 additional parking spaces and ground level retail, has been a long time in the making -- dating back to 2001 when the area was identified for public parking in the Downtown Master Plan.  Because we've opted to roll two other planned improvement projects (replacement of an aging water line under State Street and State Street landscape/streetscape enhancements) into this ongoing construction project, the opening of the Garage will be pushed back a bit.  By combining the projects, the construction will be underway at one time and we will avoid disrupting the area in the future.  We now anticipate the Garage will be open to the public in mid-May, activating another section of downtown with plenty of parking.  The Farmers Market will continue to remain open as the State Street improvements are completed. 


  • Board of Adjustment
    Wed., March 25 - 1:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Police Complaint Committee
    Wed., March 25 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
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)   

This Week's Items to Know:
Van Wezel - 45 Year Sales Record Shattered    In Weekly Briefs last week, we mentioned that ticket sales for the Broadway hit Jersey Boys were extremely good.  Well, it turns out, the box office sales were the best ever in the 45 year history of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.  That's impressive!

Over the eight performances, total attendance reached 13,943
All eight performances of Jersey Boys received
enthusiastic standing ovations. 
with gross ticket sales well over $1 million.  That shattered the previous record set by Mama Mia in 2007.

We continue to be very proud of the quality and variety of performances the Van Wezel is able to attract.  We can't wait to see what the next big hit will be.  Congratulations again to Executive Director Mary Bensel and the entire Van Wezel all-star team!  

City Demographics - By the Numbers   The U.S. Census Bureau provides the City with information which I thought might be helpful to share as City Logo we work to understand our community and plan for the future.  An interesting piece of data shows that the population is on the rise.  Between 2010 and 2013, the population in the city limits increased 2.4 percent.  Sarasota is an attractive, desirable place and we anticipate that growth could be a trend, particularly as Baby Boomers seek sunny, warm environs to retire, our local universities continue to grow, and our cultural institutions thrive.  It's also important to celebrate that our city is a diverse community, as minorities makeup nearly one-third of our population.

Here are some other numbers:

*  Population:  53,326
*  Persons per Household:  2.19
*  Black or African-American:  16.9 %
*  Hispanic or Latino:  14.2%
*  Median Age:  45.6 years
*  Persons under 18 years:  16.8 %
*  Persons 65 years and over:  22.4 %
*  Median Household Income:  $41,205
*  Persons below Poverty Level:  22.2%

To see a report recently generated about demographics in the City of Sarasota click here.

Lido Beach Restoration - Completed   We're pleased to announce the Lido Beach restoration project wrapped up this week --- finishing one week ahead of schedule and on time --- and well before turtle nesting season.  The last order of business before construction crews fully demobilized was the tilling of the beach Wednesday night. This helps create an environment sea turtles find desirable to nest.

If you haven't been to Lido Beach since the restoration and stabilization project started in mid-January, I encourage you to do so.  The erosion from Tropical Storm Debby in 2012, and after, was so severe that, in some areas, the beach no longer existed.   In those particularly hard hit sections, as much as 100 feet of beach was replaced. 

Not only is the new sand beautiful for beach goers, it serves to stabilize the environment and preserve property and infrastructure.  The project extended 1.8 miles, and when you see it, you'll know why people are commenting that it's some of the most gorgeous sand they've ever seen. 
South Lido Beach before and after the renourishment.  
The successful conclusion of this restoration project highlights why the City needs a long range beach restoration and stabilization plan.  We continue to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a long term program which would guarantee restoration of the beach every five years for 50 years (as opposed to the current process which requires the City to wait for significant erosion and then begin the permitting process).  The long range plan is still being vetted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, staff and the community.  We'll keep you posted.

RLTCC - Lose Big, Win Bigger Challenge    The second annual fitness challenge at Robert L. Taylor Community Complex known as Lose Big, Win Bigger is set to start the day after Easter.

The challenge will begin on April 6 with an official weigh-in and conclude with a weigh-out on June 1.  During the 8-week challenge, participants will receive ongoing support, plus RLTCC will host a series of events, including documentary screenings about the importance of food, diet and healthy eating.

The entry fee is $30 per person and includes a 2-month full access pass at RLTCC, three complimentary fitness classes each week and a free water bottle. Participants will have the opportunity to receive a mini tablet, Wii fitness package and Fitbit.  To see a flyer click here.

This is a fun way to be healthy and I commend our staff for organizing the fitness challenge once again this year.  Good luck...and may the biggest loser win! 
New Urbanism & Students   A large contingent of high school students visited City Hall and downtown yesterday to learn about New Urbanism and actually see how those principles have been put into action.  90 Lakewood Ranch High School students enrolled in an advanced placement course called 'human geography' heard from our staff planners about the elements that help create a livable and walkable downtown.
It was a pleasure to welcome the students to
City Hall to learn about New Urbanism. 

The teacher (who happened to be an intern with the City's Planning Department 20 years ago) provided our staff with a list of terms they've been discussing in class, and staff explained how those are used in every day planning within the City of Sarasota.  Then, the entire group strolled around downtown.  They studied Whole Foods, the Five Points roundabout, the new Aloft hotel under construction, and other developments, as staff pointed out the elements of New Urbanism design, from setbacks to pedestrian friendly aspects, to mixed use space, to incorporating the existing tree canopy.

We hope the tour was beneficial to the students, who very well could end up being some of our future urban planners.  A special thanks to the Neighborhood and Development Services Department and the Urban Design Studio for taking the time to share their professional expertise with these young students.   
UDS Director Karin Murphy points out the preservation of trees
at the Aloft hotel construction site.  

Gem & Jewelry Show & Sale 
Municipal Auditorium
Fri. and Sat., March 20 & 21
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Just Desserts
Payne Park Auditorium
Fri., March 20   
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

13th Annual Sarasota Art & Craft Festival
Selby Five Points Park  
Sat., and Sun., March 21 & 22  
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Southeastern Guide Dogs Walk      
Payne Park
Sat., March 21 
9:30 a.m. - Noon

Rare Pearlz  
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park
Sat., March 21
8 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Form-Based Code Island District
Feedback Session

Mote Sea Cinema - 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy
Sat., March 21
1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.


Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel

Itzhak Perlman
Sat., March 21 - 8 p.m.
Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald will be at the
Van Wezel on March 22.

Sun., March 22 - 7 p.m.

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.

Wed., April 1 - 8 p.m.
Thurs., April 2 - 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

The Temptations and The Four Tops
Fri., April 3 - 8 p.m.

Sat., April 4 - 8 p.m.

St Petersburg L'Hermitage Theater "Russian Ballet"
Tues., April 7 - 8 p.m.

Boz Scaggs
Thurs., April 9 - 8 p.m.
Chris Botti will perform at the Van Wezel on April 17.


Johnny Mathis
Sun., April 12 - 7 p.m.

Diana Krall Wallflower World Tour
Thurs., April 16 - 8 p.m.

Chris Botti
Fri., April 17 - 8 p.m.

Robert Irvine LIVE!
Sat., April 18 - 8 p.m.

Roberta Flack
Wed., April 22 - 8 p.m.

Rain:  A Tribute to The Beatles
Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles will be
at the Van Wezel on April 23.

Thurs., April 23 - 8 p.m.

Celtic Woman
Fri., April 24 - 7:30 p.m.

For more information visit

Thanks for reading this week's edition.  Congratulations on surviving St. Patrick's Day!

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Tom Barwin
City Manager