From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
November 13, 2015
The first tenant on the ground floor of the new State Street Garage is open for business!  Dimmitt Automotive Group - The Sarasota Studio officially opened last week with over a dozen luxury vehicles -- "rolling works of art" -- on display on State Street including Bentley, Lamborghini, and Rolls Royce.  We're told the showroom is receiving a lot of interest with people circulating through nonstop during the Saturday Farmers Market. We're excited to have this unique business in the heart of downtown and expect it will attract much foot traffic.  As you may recall, the retail space in the parking garage is now privately owned.  At this time, there's no official word on what will go in the remaining space next to the car showroom -- but, the area was constructed to accommodate a restaurant. 

Homeless Update

After spending nearly four hours in a joint meeting with the City Commission and County Board of Commissioners last week which resulted in mutual agreement for respective staffs to work together for 30-45 days toward maximizing collaboration and best practices related to chronic homelessness, many were perplexed when notified that the County had rescinded its vote on Monday.  The City had looked forward to maximum  information sharing and coordination to best tackle this challenging issue throughout our county.

The City and a growing number of parties will continue to support the implementation of Housing First, an evidence-based method to dramatically reduce chronic homelessness via supportive housing.  Individuals leaving shelters will need housing or they will be living back on the streets.  In the meantime, we will build upon our strong, results-oriented relationship with the Salvation Army, which already provides shelter within the city limits.

The City has negotiated an agreement with the Salvation Army which reserves six beds for individuals brought in by our Homeless Outreach Team who need the basic necessities of shelter, food and bathroom facilities.  This relationship with the Salvation Army will help to ensure beds are available and the homeless individual paired with the appropriate social services.  Very preliminary numbers show success, with approximately 75% of the individuals in this pilot program getting off the street and into supportive housing.  This early success follows our caseworkers and social services network getting 80 military veterans off city/county streets and into housing over the past 15 months.

Homelessness is not a crime.  And we, as a city, will not arrest someone for not having a home.  Should a homeless person commit a crime, however, like anyone else, they will be prosecuted.

We remain open to ideas, suggestions, and discussions with Sarasota County, and building support to fund the gap in mental health and substance abuse needs.  My colleagues from Longboat Key to Venice to North Port all strongly support the need for additional mental health funding in Sarasota County and the State of Florida.   


  • City Commission
    Mon., November 16 - 2:30 p.m. & 6  p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Firefighters Pension Plan Board of Trustees
    Special Meeting
    Tues., November 17 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Downtown Improvement District
    Tues., November 17 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Fruitville Road Streetscape Enhancement
    Tues., November 17 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Public Workshop:  Lift Station 87
    Proposed Maintenance of Traffic Plans
    Tues., November 17 - 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., November 18 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Police Complaint Committee
    Wed., November 18 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Planning Board
    Wed., November 18 - 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Building Inspector (Single License)
Dir., Parks and Recreation
Facility Maintenance Technician
General Manager, Purchasing
Landscape Maintenance Tech I 
Maintenance Mechanic II
Pension Specialist
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Procurement Specialist III
Senior Pension Analyst
   Traffic Signal Tech I
 Treatment Plant Operator C  
    Windows System Administrator    

This Week's Items to Know:
PBS NewsHour -  Sat., Nov. 14   We mentioned in last week's edition of Weekly Briefs that PBS NewsHour visited Sarasota and is working on a piece about the chronic homeless issue.  We have confirmed with the segment producer it will air tomorrow (Sat.,
PBS producer Sam Weber recording video of Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown and I at City Hall.

November 14) on PBS television stations across the country  including our local affiliate WEDU. It's scheduled to air at 6 p.m. and will be posted on the PBS NewsHour website as well.

Promoted as a signature piece for Newshour Weekend, we're told the segment will be approximately 10 minutes long.

We hope they're able to present our story to the American viewing public in a way that underscores the challenges we face as a community every day and the hard work being put in to develop creative and effective solutions --  plus, the push for increased federal and state funding for more mental health beds and community mental health program options. 


First Street Improvements - Update    Significant progress is being made with the First Street improvement project.  As you may recall, the City is modifying First Street to create a more pedestrian friendly atmosphere which will help connect First Street to the core downtown.

Crews are now finishing the south side of the street between U.S. 41 and Cocoanut Ave.  Cement curbs are being poured, brick pavers installed for parking areas, and landscaping planted.  Once the south side is completed, crews will begin work on the north side.  That means the traffic pattern will shift and First Street temporarily will be one-way going eastbound between U.S. 41 and Cocoanut.
Crews pouring cement curbs earlier this week. 

Anyone who comes downtown can see we're experiencing a lot of construction right now.  Some of it is City initiated, like this project, while most of it is private sector driven. We appreciate everyone's continued patience, especially businesses along First Street directly impacted by this project.  If all goes according to plan, we expect the improvements to be finished by early February. 
Veterans Day Parade   Despite Veterans Day falling on a Wednesday this year, both the Veterans Day parade and ceremony were well attended this week.  Thanks to everyone who lined Main Street to honor our military veterans and all five City Commissioners who walked the parade route.  It was a privilege to be part of Sarasota's long standing history of paying tribute to our military personnel.  Thank you, veterans, for your service and sacrifices to protect us at home and overseas.

If you missed the parade, please enjoy some video highlights compiled by Senior Communications Manager Jan Thornburg:
Veterans Day Parade 2015 
Second Street Apartments - Demolition   If you've been near Whole Foods on Second Street this week, chances are you noticed  a demolition project underway.  Two buildings -- including the old United Way building -- are being razed to make way for a new development.  The property is expected to be cleared by the end of next week.  Although the developer has not submitted the final paperwork for a building permit, that is expected to happen soon.
Second Street Apartments is a $40 million construction project with 180 units planned and retail/office space on the ground floor. 
Demolition of two buildings is underway in preparation
for the construction of Second Street Apartments.

Mayors' Feed The Hungry -  Van Wezel Discount    Our staff at the Van Wezel hopes to motivate people to participate in the Mayors' Feed The Hungry Thanksgiving Food Drive by offering a discounted ticket for 'A Christmas Carol' on Dec. 23.

Just donate a non-perishable food item and the box office will take $5 off your ticket.  The offer is only good for tickets in Sections B & C for 'A Christmas Carol' on Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.

The food drive runs through November 20.  Donations are being collected at the Van Wezel, 777 N. Tamiami Trail as well as three other City of Sarasota locations:

City Hall - 1565 First Street
Federal Building -  111 S. Orange Avenue
Sarasota Police Headquarters - 2099 Adams Lane

For more information about the ticket discount and upcoming performances contact the Van Wezel box office:  941-953-3368 or visit

Upcoming Events 

Gem & Jewelry Show & Sale 
Municipal Auditorium 
Fri., November 13 - Sun., November 15 
   10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

2nd Friday Cruise Night 
Lemon Avenue
Fri., November 13
5 p.m. - 8 p.m. 

Walk for Epilepsy 
Payne Park
Sat., November 14
8 a.m. - Noon

St. Armands Fall Art Festival  
St. Armands
Sat., November 14 & Sun., November 15
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Meet & Greet with Cmr. Eddie 
Ed Smith Stadium 
(Parking lot at Tuttle Ave. & 12th St.)
Sat., November 14
10 a.m. - Noon
"Save Our Hometown Family Treasures"
Free Lecture
Bethlehem Bible Church - 1680 18th Street
Sat., November 14
11 a.m.


Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

Executive Director Mary Bensel with Rick Springfield at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

The following is a list of shows through February 2016.  To view the entire Van Wezel season visit 

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

Cirque Dreams ~ Holidaze
Sat., November 14 - 8 p.m.
  Dave Koz will be at the Van Wezel on Nov. 27.

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

Creedence Clearwater Revisited
Sat., November 21 - 8 p.m.

Dave Koz Christmas Tour 2015
Fri., November 27 - 8 p.m.

Craig Ferguson:  The New Deal Tour
Tues., December 1 - 8 p.m.

Daryl Hall & John Oates
Wed., December 2 - 8 p.m.

Kenny G 
Thurs., December 3 - 8 p.m.

Women of Ireland ~ Celtic Angels' Christmas 
Thurs., December 10 - 8 p.m.

Carrot Top 
Sat., December 12 - 8 p.m.

Bowzer's Rock & Roll Holiday Party 
Sun., December 13 - 7 p.m.

A Christmas Carol 
Wed., December 23 - 7 p.m.

Moscow Ballet:  Great Russian Nutcracker

Mon., December 28 - 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.

The Producers
Wed., December 30 - 8 p.m.
A Christmas Carol will be at the Van Wezel on Dec. 23.

The Ten Tenors
Thurs., December 31 - 7 p.m.
Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert
Sun., January 3, 2016 - 7 p.m.

Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story
Tues., January 5, 2016 - 8 p.m.
Wed., January 6, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Ron White
Thurs., January 7, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Black Violin
Tues., January 12, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Jim Witter - The Piano Men II
Wed., January 13, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Catskills on Broadway
Thurs., January 14, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Lisa Lampanelli
Fri., January 15, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Air Supply
Sat., January 16, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Paul Anka
Sun., January 17, 2016 - 7 p.m.
  Catskills on Broadway will be at the Van Wezel on
Jan. 14, 2016.

DL Hughley
Mon., January 18, 2016 - 8 p.m.

42nd Street
Wed., January 20, 2016 - 8 p.m.
Thurs., January 21, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Wynonna & The Big Noise: Stories & Song
Sun., January 24, 2016 - 7 p.m.

ABBA Mania
Mon., January 25, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Renee Fleming with the Sarasota Orchestra
Wed., January 27, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
Thurs., January 28, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Dancing With The Stars:  LIVE! Dance All Night Tour
Fri., January 29, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Joshua Bell

Sat., January 30, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Tues., February 2, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Masters of Illusion - Believe the Impossible
Thurs., February 4 - 7:30 p.m.
The Book of Mormon
February 9 - 12, 2016:  8 p.m.
Sat., February 13, 2016:  2 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Sun., February 14, 2016:  1:30 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Neil Berg's 107 Years of Broadway
Wed., February 17, 2016 - 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

Michael Feinstein and his 17-Piece Band
Thurs., February 18, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Patti LaBelle
Tues., February 23, 2016 - 8 p.m.

Moscow Festival Ballet - Cinderella
Wed., February 24, 2016 - 7 p.m.

The Beach Boys
Thurs., February 25, 2016 - 7:30 p.m.
Neil Berg's 107 Years of Broadway will be at the Van Wezel on
Feb. 17, 2016.

Vince Gill & Lyle Lovett
Fri., February 26, 2016 - 7:30 p.m.

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

Josh Groban
Sun., February 28, 2016 - 8 p.m.

The Australian Bee Gees
Mon., February 29, 2016 - 8 p.m.

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

For a complete schedule of events, visit

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