From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
March 18, 2016
When sea fog is rolling over Sarasota Bay, chances are pretty good you may encounter artists who enjoy en plein air painting and the challenge of capturing the changing sunlight on canvas.   Bernice Gaines was disappointed the fog lifted so quickly earlier this week at Eloise Werlin Park, but quickly shifted her focus to the new mood on the water.   


  • General Employees' Pension Board of Trustees
    Mon., March 21 - 12 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commisson
    Mon., March 21 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Firefighters' Pension Plan Board of Trustees
    Wed., March 23 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Special Public Art
    Wed., March 23 - 2 p.m.

    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Police Complaint Committee
    Wed., March 23 - 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.

Arborist II
Arborist, Ordinance Compliance
Electronic Traffic Signal Tech
Engineer Technician II
Facility Maintenance Tech
Lifeguard I
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant
Spray Tech
Treatment Plant Operator C
       Utilities Capital Projects Manager
        Utilities Review of Building Permit Apps    

This Week's Items to Know:
Traffic Calming - Eloise Werlin Park    Within the next few weeks, several speed bumps will be installed along the straight away leading to the Tony Saprito Fishing Pier and Eloise Werlin
Speed bumps will be installed on the road leading to the Tony Saprito Fishing Pier and Eloise Werlin Park.

Park adjacent to the Ringling Bridge. 

A recent traffic study confirmed that drivers are speeding down that stretch of road -- and staff was surprised at the extent of the speeding:  85 percent of the vehicles were traveling 13 mph over the posted 15 mph speed limit.  That's especially concerning since it's a narrow 11 foot wide lane next to a sidewalk abutting Sarasota Bay.

When the speed bumps are installed, the road will be temporarily closed to vehicular traffic.  The work will be done at night and we expect the road to reopen by the next day.  Pedestrians still will be able to access the pier and park.  When a date for the work is confirmed, we'll let you know. 

Robert L. Taylor Community Complex - Teen Party    Spring break is underway and staff at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex organized a fun, affordable way for teenagers to enjoy a warm afternoon outside:  a luau.

35 teens opted to spend Wednesday
Teens playing water volleyball during the luau. 
afternoon listening to music, playing water volleyball and relaxing poolside.  Students from the HARD:NOC teen program volunteered their time during the party and also helped decorate the pool area for the festivities.  Any opportunity we have to provide a healthy, positive alternative for teens is a win-win for the kids and the community.

Thanks to the staff at RLTCC for hosting the luau and congratulations to everyone involved with another successful event.  

Tourism - By the Numbers    Visit Sarasota County released tourism numbers this week for January 2016 and the data shows the Sarasota area continues to be a popular destination with visitors.  Tourism grew by 5.2 percent over the same period last year and
The Baltimore Spring Training games
are a big tourist draw.

spending increased 4.8 percent. 

Previous reports show that  an estimated 3 million visitors make their way into the Sarasota city limits each year, enjoying the natural beauty, dining, shopping and cultural arts amenities that are plentiful here. As a result we're seeing hotel construction to provide the room inventory which Visit Sarasota County has indicated is needed.  Recently, the Aloft on Palm Ave. was the first hotel to open in the city limits in ten years and three other hotels are under construction in the downtown which will bring approximately 1,000 new hotel rooms to the downtown core over the next 1-2 years.

SPD Awards - HOT Unit Honored    During the annual Sarasota Police Department awards ceremony last Friday, members of the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) were recognized with a Unit Citation for their ongoing efforts to connect with the chronic homeless.  Every day HOT members work to gain homeless individuals' trust, and help provide them with a path to shelter, recovery and a stable environment.

Comprised of uniform officers and mental health case workers, the HOT teams go where the homeless live -- on the streets and in thick wooded areas -- many times in unsanitary and hazardous conditions the likes of which most of us would avoid.
Front Row:  Capt. Kevin Stiff, Chief Bernadette DiPino;  Back Row:  Officer David Dubendorf, Mental Health Case Worker Calvin Collins, Lt. Lori Jaress, Asst. City Attorney Joe Polzak, Sgt. Michael Schwieterman   
In 2015, the HOT team made 5,344 contacts with chronic homeless individuals.  In many cases, the same individual has been contacted repeatedly by the HOT team, but has declined help.  We continue to reach out and provide information about free services available in Sarasota with the hope that one day they will accept assistance.  

Assistant City Attorney Joe Polzak drafted an ordinance to address the concern of personal items being stored on the public right of way and blocking sidewalks.  He also worked with the Salvation Army to develop a contract for exclusive SPD use of ten beds for individuals who need shelter.  Since this agreement in October 2015, 138 people have stayed in a HOT bed...and 88 have asked for additional services. 

We're pleased the HOT team was recognized for their dedication and professionalism.  They're tasked with a very challenging issue and we appreciate them being in the trenches every day.

During the annual ceremony, many fine individuals at SPD were honored for their work, including:

* Officer of the Year:  Officer Jeffrey Miller
  Read about Officer Miller

* Sworn Supervisor of the Year:  Sgt. Bryan Graham
   Read about Sgt. Graham

* Humanitarian Service Award:  Officer Derek Conley, Officer
  Kimberle Vespia
  Read about the Humanitarian Service Award

* Life Saving Medal:  Officer Adam Barlow, Officer Patrick Comac,
  Officer Erick Raulerson
  Read about the Life Saving Medal

* Life Saving Medal:  Sgt. Michael Schwieterman, Officer Juan
  Jaimes, Officer Michael Skinner
  Read about the Life Saving Medal

* Life Saving Medal:  Sgt. Jeffrey Ball, Officer Sean Gleason,
  Officer Ross Revill
  Read about the Life Saving Medal

* Civilian of the Year:  Rick Hockensmith
  Read about Rick Hockensmith

Congratulations to everyone!  Your dedication to keeping our community safe is appreciated.
Officer Jeffrey Miller being honored by Chief Bernadette DiPino
as the SPD Officer of the Year. 
WSRQ Radio - Regular Guest   This past Monday, City issues and activities were front and center on the talk show "What's New SRQ" on WSRQ radio.  Host Melinda Lee invited me to talk live on the air about everything and anything related to City matters:  from the progress we're making with the chronic homeless issue and the challenges that remain, to the value of partnership policing with the Sarasota Police Department. 

I've always enjoyed radio and the conversation on "What's New SRQ" was lively, engaging and informative.  To listen to a podcast of the 30-minute segment click here.

A former Home Shopping Network host, Melinda Lee is now a radio host.  And, having recently returned to Sarasota, she has a tremendous interest in what's happening here and sharing that information with listeners.  

With so many interesting and complex issues to explore, I  enthusiastically agreed to be a regular guest on WSRQ.  Starting in May, I will be on the air the second Monday of each month at 4 p.m.  You can tune in at 106.9 FM and 1220 AM or listen to the podcast which  is posted to the WSRQ website within a couple of days.

We appreciate this fresh opportunity with WSRQ, and we look forward to having another medium to engage and connect with the community.    

Upcoming Events 

Gem & Jewelry Show & Sale 
Fri., March 18 - Sun., March 20
Municipal Auditorium
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Florida Winefest Banquet 
Fri., March 18
Lemon Ave.
6 p.m. - 10 p.m. 
Southeastern Guide Dogs Walkathon 
Sat., March 19 
Payne Park 
8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. 

Free Tax Preparation 
Mon., March 21  
Robert L. Taylor Community Complex 
3 p.m. - 7 p.m. 

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

The following is a list of shows through April.  To view the entire Van Wezel season visit 
The Peking Acrobats will perform at the Van Wezel on March 20.
The Peking Acrobats
Sun., March 20 - 7 p.m.

Bullets Over Broadway
Mon., March 21 - 8 p.m.

Tues., March 22 - 8 p.m.

The Irish Tenors
Wed., March 23 - 8 p.m.

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

The Midtown Men
Fri., March 25 - 8 p.m.
Sophia Loren will perform on March 31 at the Van Wezel.


Million Dollar Quartet
Sat., March 26 - 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

An Evening with Sophia Loren
Thurs., March 31 - 8 p.m.

Broadway!  The Big Band Years
Mon., April 4 - 8 p.m.

Chris Botti
Tues., April 5 - 8 p.m.

Celtic Nights - Spirit of Freedom
Tues., April 12 - 8 p.m.

Paula Poundstone
Sun., April 17 - 7 p.m.

Mamma Mia!
Tues., April 19 - 8 p.m.
Wed., April 20 - 8 p.m.

Cirque Mechanics Pedal Punk
Fri., April 22 - 8 p.m.
Chris Isaak will perform at the Van Wezel on April 28.


Brian Regan
Sat., April 23 - 8 p.m.

ZZ Top
Wed., April 27 - 8 p.m.

Chris Isaak
Thurs., April 28 - 8 p.m.

Billy Gardell

Fri., April 29 - 8 p.m.

Celtic Woman
Sat., April 30 - 7:30 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

Weekly Briefs will be on hiatus until April 15.

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