From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
July 24, 2015
This signals the evolution of an intersection.  The traffic signals at Orange Ave. and Main St. were removed Wednesday morning to begin construction on a roundabout as we work toward a more modern, sustainable way of facilitating the flow of traffic and pedestrians through downtown.  The intersection is expected to be closed through September while crews relocate utilities underground and begin constructing the roundabout.  We plan to have the project substantially completed by mid-November. Please be patient as you navigate around this improvement project.  And, we encourage you to continue coming downtown and enjoy the many unique stores and restaurants and, of course, the popular Farmers Market every Saturday. The new State Street Garage is open, free and conveniently located just one block south of Main Street.


  • Board of Adjustment
    Wed., July 29 - 1:30 p.m. 
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Golf Course Attendant (Part-Time)
Manager, Information Technology
Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant (RLTCC)     

This Week's Items to Know:
State Street Garage - Now OPEN!   We're pleased to announce the much anticipated State Street Garage is now open to the public and available for parking!  It officially opened Wednesday at 5 p.m.  If you haven't driven or walked through it yet, we invite you to do so.  Architecturally speaking, it's an impressive structure. And, with enough space for nearly 400 vehicles and 30 bicycles in the heart of downtown, it's exactly what our increasingly vibrant downtown needs.

You may see some contractors on site working on punch list items to finish the project, including painting and installing the second elevator.

We look forward to tomorrow (Sat.) when the Garage will be available for the first time for those visiting the Farmers Market.  The Garage can be easily accessed on State Street (off Orange Ave. or Lemon Ave.) or from Ringling Blvd.
Downtown resident Roger Barry was the first member of the public to drive into the
State Street Garage when it opened late Wednesday afternoon.

White House Community Policing Forum - Sarasota Invited    

Mayor Willie Shaw, SPD Chief Bernadette DiPino and I were honored to be invited to participate in a special national community policing forum held at the White House this week.

Following the recent unrest in our country,
With SPD Chief Bernadette DiPino and Mayor Willie Shaw
at the White House. 
President Obama assembled the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. During the forum, we had the opportunity to meet with members of the Task Force, law enforcement officers, elected officials, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and community and faith leaders from across the nation. The recommendations set forth by the Task Force were discussed as well as   how to implement them toward improving the quality of life in our communities, and public and police safety for all.

The discussion groups were very informative and enlightening, and focused on the six areas addressed by the Task Force:

1.  Building trust and legitimacy
2.  Policy and oversight
3.  Technology and social media
4.  Community policing and crime reduction
5.  Training and education
6.  Officers safety and wellness

Valerie Jarrett, Sr. Advisor to the President, welcoming everyone to the
forum at the White House.  The discussion was streamed live online. 
Having begun my public service career as a police officer 35 years ago, I can assure you that bringing community based policing into the the 21st century is a long overdue discussion.  Just 40 communities were invited to participate in the forum, and I'm proud Sarasota was included to share our proactive community policing experience which emphasizes creating local partnerships.  After attending the forum, it's apparent we're ahead of the curve under the leadership of Chief DiPino, as SPD strives to collaborate with our neighborhoods and community based organizations each and every day.

Members of the faith based community who are actively involved with community policing also were invited to attend the forum.  Kelvin Lumpkin, pastor with Light of the World International Church, attended with us and shared his experiences and insight into how residents and SPD officers are developing better communication and cooperative partnerships and working relationships. 

This was an unexpected trip on short notice.  We appreciate the City Commission's support and those who worked behind the scenes to  ensure we were able to get to Washington, D.C. and share Sarasota's story and learn from others as each and every police officer in America strives to be a part of, not apart from, every unique community from coast to coast. 

Community members trust officers to exercise sound judgement and de-escalate situations, when possible, at each and every incident they are called upon to keep the peace.  And, the public's ability to help prevent crime and assist with prosecuting attackers can never be underestimated or taken for granted. 
Preliminary Millage Rate - No Change     During its regular meeting Monday night, the City Commission unanimously set the preliminary millage rate at 3.1728 -- that's the same rate as last year. 

We are proposing a fiscally responsible budget with less City Logo than a 1.5% increase from the current fiscal year.  This includes additional staff positions in key areas (including SPD, Utilities, Code Compliance, Parking) to help us maintain (and in some areas improve) our level of service.  As we see our skyline change and we anticipate more residents moving into Sarasota, we need to have the staff and resources available to respond to such a growing population. 

The City Commission's support and leadership with this proposed budget is greatly appreciated.  Before the budget is adopted, public hearings will be held on Sept. 8 and Sept. 21.  The proposed budget can be found online here.   
Van Wezel - Renovations    The staff at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is taking full advantage of the off-season to get a lot done around the building!  And, when we say 'a lot done' we mean major improvements. 

Demolition of the women's and family restrooms started this week.   All are being remodeled with a modern style to improve traffic flow and reduce lines.  Four extra stalls will be added in the Grand Foyer and a new restroom is being constructed in the Founder's Lounge.  (Don't worry, gentlemen....the men's restrooms are slated for a similar makeover next summer.)

Also, the old orchestra shell was dismantled and removed from the Hall to make room for a new shell which will be more flexible and allow for greater opportunities to bring even larger shows to the Van Wezel.  The new shell is being funded in part with two capital improvement grants from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation and the Harry Sudakoff Foundation.  We greatly appreciate their generosity to improve the Hall and allow us to continue to offer an excellent cultural arts experience.
From replacing the orchestra shell to renovating the restrooms, a lot of improvements are underway at the Van Wezel this summer.

And last but certainly not least, all the carpet throughout the Hall will be replaced and the Grand Foyer will be given a fresh coat of paint. 

It is indeed a very busy summer at the Van Wezel!  Thanks to Executive Director Mary Bensel and her staff for working diligently to coordinate the construction schedules so the work would not interfere with our popular Friday Fest activities.  

Bobby Jones Summer Camp     The second of three youth summer camps was held at Bobby Jones Golf Club earlier this week.  Youngsters had the opportunity to hit the links with one of our PGA professionals and learn about this challenging sport from course etiquette, to driving, chipping and putting.  We're excited that the  camp was sold out --- and staff was able to accommodate one extra student for a total of 13.  Thanks to the Bobby Jones staff for making the 3-day camp fun, interesting and educational for the children.  The last camp is scheduled for Aug. 10-12. 
Golf camp participants practicing their swing. 

Upcoming Events 

Mystic Faire
Municipal Auditorium   
 Sat., July 25:  11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sun., July 26:  11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Feldenkrais Yoga 
Bayfront Community Center
Wed., July 29
9:15 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Folk Dancers 
Bayfront Community Center
Wed., July 29
7 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Senior Ballroom Dancing 
Bayfront Community Center
Thurs., July 30
10 a.m. - Noon

Scottish Dancers 
Bayfront Community Center
Thurs., July 30
7 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.


Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 
Van Wezel Interior
Friday Fest:  Yesterdayze
Fri., August 21 - 5 p.m. 

Friday Fest: Reverend Barry & Funktastic Soul
Featuring The Hellacious Horns
Fri., Sept. 18 - 5 p.m. 
Free Outdoor Concert

John Cleese and Eric Idle
Fri., October 2 - 7:30 p.m.

Shen Yun Orchestra 
Tues., October 13 - 7:30 p.m. 

The Ultimate Doo Wop Show
Sat., Oct. 24 - 8 p.m.

Lewis Black:  The Rant is Due:  Part Deux
Fri., November 13 - 8 p.m.

Straight No Chaser
Thurs., November 19 - 8 p.m.

Moscow Ballet:  Great Russian Nutcracker
Mon., December 28 - 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert
Sun., January 3, 2016 - 7 p.m.

Kristin Chenoweth
Sat., February 27, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Linda Eder with Robert Cuccioli
Thurs., March 24, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Subscriptions are on sale for the upcoming 2015-2016 season of Broadway, dance, and orchestra performances. The digital edition of the 2015-2016 Subscriptions Brochure can be viewed by clicking here

To purchase tickets over the phone call 941-953-3368 or stop by the Box Office at 777 N.Tamiami Trail. 

For more information visit

We'll be on summer hiatus next week.  Weekly Briefs will return Friday, August 7.  In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying a pleasant summer in our community.

Thanks for reading this week's edition.  If you'd like to receive Weekly Briefs directly to your inbox click 'Join Our Mailing List' below or send us an email at

Tom Barwin
City Manager