From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
December 11, 2015
It's beginning to look a lot like the holiday season in Sarasota!  This festive display in Selby Five Points Park is courtesy of the Downtown Sarasota Merchants Association.  This past Monday, the City Commission directed staff to explore options for public seating at Selby Five Points as we look to activate the park.  We're considering different options, including the possibility of the neighboring Starbucks offering food and beverage service in the park. 


  • Special City Commission
    Mon., December 14 - 5 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Newtown Citizen Historic District
    Mon., December 14 - 6 p.m.
    Robert L. Taylor Community Complex
  • Proposed Zoning Text Amendments for Tree Ordinance
    Tues., December 15 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ media Studio
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., December 16 -  9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • CRA Advisory Board
    Thurs., December 17 - 3 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Independent Police Advisory Panel
    Fri., December 18 - 1 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Criminalist I
Engineering Technician III
Facility Maintenance Technician
Maintenance Mechanic I
Maintenance Mechanic II
Network Administrator
Network Analyst
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant
Sr. Transcriber
Windows System Administrator     

This Week's Items to Know:
Holiday Boat Parade of Lights - Dec. 12   This weekend will be busy once again with another popular holiday event:  the 30th Annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights.  The parade starts at 6 p.m. Saturday night (Dec. 12).

While there are many great viewing areas along the parade route, some of the best locations are:  Centennial Park, City Island, Bayfront Park and Marina Jack.  To see a map of the parade route click here.

Enjoy the festive lights on the water!
The 30th Annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
will start at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12.

Downtown Holiday Parade - Farewell Paul Thorpe     You may have heard, Paul Thorpe announced that after 20 years,
After volunteering as the organizer for
20 years, this was Paul Thorpe's final
Downtown Sarasota Holiday Parade.

he's stepping down from his volunteer duties as the Downtown Holiday Parade organizer.  Over the decades, Paul has invested countless hours to help make Sarasota a better place, and along the way, he rightfully earned the moniker "Mr. Downtown" -- and additionally,  my nickname for him:  "The Godfather of Parades". 

We're grateful, Paul, for your passion for parades and selfless community service.  We look forward to seeing you on the other side of the parade next year --- enjoying it as a spectator.   

As one would expect, Paul's last hurrah as parade organizer was another success!  Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time at the parade last weekend.  I know I enjoyed riding the Main Street route on my bicycle and seeing so many smiling faces.

A special thank you to the Sarasota Police Department for ensuring a safe event with tens of thousands of spectators...and to the Public Works Department for setting up and breaking down the barricades along the parade route.  Job well done!
L to R:  Riding my bicycle with SPD Chief Bernadette DiPino;
Mayor Willie Shaw with his grandson Endicah 
Winter Wonderland Holiday Party - Dec. 18    The Robert L. Taylor Community Complex will host a Winter Wonderland Holiday Party next Friday, December 18 from 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.  This is a free family event and will feature lots of holiday themed games for the kids, arts and crafts, and cookie decorating. 

Each child attending will be entered to win prizes, including a new bicycle.  Santa Claus himself has already RSVP'd and plans to have many photo opps with children and families --- and the photos will be printed and available at no cost during the party.  For more details click here.

This get together is possible because of generous donations from many individuals -- and donations are still being accepted.  Thank you, one and all!  And, we'll see you at the party.

Recycling - Holiday Reminder     With the holiday season upon us, we'd like to pass along a reminder about being good stewards of our environment.  In an average month, City of Sarasota residents send 1,200 tons of garbage to the landfill.  During the holiday season, that amount increases.  But, there are some actions you can take to reduce your footprint.

Remember the sustainability motto:  Reduce, reuse, recycle!  Whenever possible reuse items.  For example, rather than throwing out gift boxes, store them and plan to use them again.  With some wrapping paper, that's an option as well.

When purchasing batteries for electronic devices and games, consider buying rechargable batteries.  The upfront cost may be more, but ultimately you will end up buying fewer batteries and sending less to the landfill.

For those with a real Christmas tree, when the time comes to dispose of it, just place it curbside (with the decorations removed, of course) on your regular garbage/yard waste collection day.  If the tree is over 6 feet, you're asked to cut it in half otherwise the City's contractor, Waste Management, will not pick it up.
For information about recycling and sustainability visit 

Let's think green this holiday season!

Visit Sarasota - New Downtown Location    Visit Sarasota County has a new storefront in downtown.  Last week, the Visitor Information Center moved from Lemon Ave. to 1710 Main Street, adjacent to First Baptist Church in the old Firestone tire building.  The new location is much roomier with plenty of space for tourist guides, pamphlets and maps -- with on-site parking.  

We're pleased VSC was able to move into a nice space in downtown. The office is open to the public 7 days a week:
  • M - F:  10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Sat.:      9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Sun.:   11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Sea Turtle Nesting - Record Year   Our friends at Mote Marine Laboratory announced this week that 2015 was a record breaking season for sea turtle nests from Longboat Key to Venice.  This
A loggerhead hatchling making its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  Courtesy:  Mote Marine Laboratory

season's total of 2,475 nests edged out the previous year set in 2012 by just 6 nests. 

The Sea Turtle Patrol has monitored turtle nests for the past 34 years.  So, this record breaking year is significant. 

Approximately 100 loggerhead turtle nests appeared on Lido Beach this year.  According to the Turtle Patrol's documentation, the most popular nesting area in the region was Casey Key with 950+ nests.

Turtle nesting season runs May 1 - October 31.  The Sea Turtle Patrol will ramp up soon for the 2016 season and they're always in need of a wide range of supplies from black Sharpies to headlamps to wire cutters.  To learn more about donation opportunities click here.


PBS NewsHour - Chronic Homelessness   The staff at PBS NewsHour has confirmed a new air date for their story about how the City of Sarasota is handling the chronic homeless issue.  The segment is scheduled to run Sunday, December 13 at 6 p.m. on PBS stations across the nation, including local affiliate WEDU.

A PBS video crew spent several days in Sarasota last month talking with me, Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino and our Homeless Outreach Teams about the City's recent modest successes with homeless individuals (getting 80 homeless veterans off the streets and into housing over the past 15 months) and the challenges that lie ahead (including closing substantial funding gaps for supportive housing and mental health services).

PBS delayed running the story due to the terrorist attacks in Paris.  The segment is expected to run approximately 10 minutes and will be posted on the NewsHour website

Upcoming Events 

Southside Village Holiday Stroll
Hillview Street 
Fri., December 11
5 p.m. - 9 p.m. 
2nd Friday Cruise Night   
Lemon Ave. at Main St. 
Fri., December 11 
5 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Christmas Carol Sing-a-long 
Selby Five Points Park
Fri., December 11
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Run for the Birds 
Ed Smith Stadium
Sat., December 12
8 a.m.

Substance Abuse Awareness Walk 
Ringling Bridge (sidewalks)
Sat., December 12
9 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Porsches in the Park 
St. Armands Circle
Sat., December 12
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Atomic Holiday Bazaar 
Municipal Auditorium
Sat., Dec. 12 & Sun., Dec. 13
Noon - 5 p.m.

Holiday Boat Parade of Lights 
Sat., December 12
6 p.m.

Christmas Jazz in the Park 
Fredd Atkins Park
Sat., December 12:  4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Sun., December 13:  Noon - 6 p.m.


Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

Van Wezel Executive Director Mary Bensel
with jazz pianist/singer Diana Krall.

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

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.
  Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story will be at the Van Wezel
Jan. 4-6.

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
Mon., January 4, 2016 - 8 p.m.
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.
Abba Mania will be at the Van Wezel
Jan. 25, 2016.


Paul Anka
Sun., January 17, 2016 - 7 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.
Vince Gill & Lyle Lovett will be at the Van Wezel on
Feb. 26, 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