From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
April 15, 2016
Photo of the Week 
The City partnered with the Florida Forest Service recently to conduct a prescribed fire on City-owned property east of I-75 at the Verna well field (outside the city limits).  Approximately 40 acres of vegetation and overgrowth were burned by Forest Service crews to help lower the chances of a wildfire.  Prescribed burns are a common land management tool used to reduce overgrowth and, thus, the possibility of a dangerous wildfire.  The 2,200 acre Verna well field, where the burn took place, furnishes approximately 40 percent of the City's potable water supply.  We appreciate the Forest Service's assistance to help us be good stewards to protect infrastructure, homes, and the environment.


  • General Employees' Pension Board
    Mon., April 18 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commission
    Mon., April 18 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers

  • Development Review Cmte
    Wed., April 20 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

Administrative Assistant
Arborist I
Arborist II
Control System Technician I
Electronic Traffic Signal Tech
Facility Maintenance Tech
Irrigation Technician
Junior System Administrator
Lifeguard I
Maintenance Mechanic I
Maintenance Mechanic II
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant
Spray Tech
  Treatment Plant Operator C
Utilities Capital Projects Manager 


Homeless Update

The 2016 Point In Time homeless survey covering Manatee and Sarasota County, conducted by volunteers of the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness, was released today.  The count occurred on January 25, 2016.

The general homelessness count in the region (Manatee and Sarasota County) is up by 270 over last year.  The survey shows that in the two county region, there are 311 chronically homeless individuals.  Chronically homeless are defined as those who have been living without permanent shelter for over a year and are experiencing some sort of disability.

The Point In Time survey always reflects high numbers in the city limits where most of the region's major criminal justice and social service facilities are located.  The count includes those homeless who were present at the Sarasota County jail, The Salvation Army shelter, Resurrection House, Trinity Without Borders, SPARCC, First Step, and other city-based facilities on the day of the count.

In related data, over the past 12 months, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) calls to respond to homeless individuals in the city limits were down -5.5 percent.

We're told the number of daily visitors to the Resurrection House, day resource center for the homeless located at 507 Kumquat Ct., has dropped by approximately 45 people each day -- from 220/day to 175/day.  This is helpful information as we track the chronic homeless issue.

The City's HOT (Homeless Outreach Teams) estimate that the number of homeless individuals living on the streets has decreased slightly over the past year to approximately 250.  We believe the reduction in numbers is in part due to the success of the HOT group and local agencies working to help get over 100 homeless veterans off the streets, following the Housing First strategy.

While much remains to be done, especially in the area of mental health facilities and housing, we're moving in the right direction. 

This Week's Items to Know:
Coon Key Bridge - FDOT Project   After hearing residents' concerns, staff intensified talks with FDOT to mitigate the traffic congestion resulting from the FDOT construction project on the Coon Key Bridge.

Since the project started less than two weeks ago, we've learned that some drivers are surprised when the two westbound lanes heading
Crews working under the Coon Key Bridge. 
toward St. Armands Circle merge into one.  So, FDOT will extend the notification and merge area by 200 feet.  Also, FDOT will hire an off-duty police officer who will be on site to help monitor drivers merging in the construction zone.

FDOT and SPD remind drivers to be cautious and not block intersections and crosswalks, which can create additional delays.  Also, drivers are reminded to follow the 'zipper' approach to merging -- alternating cars one by one from each merging lane which helps move traffic as efficiently as possible.

Although FDOT started construction after Easter (the traditional end of season) midday traffic back-ups have been longer than expected.

Regarding the timing of the project, FDOT has explained that there are structural safety issues with the bridge which need to be repaired before the height of hurricane season.  And, unfortunately, night work isn't a viable option due to the heavy machinery needed to break concrete which would disturb residents trying to sleep.
Coon Key Bridge work
Heavy machinery breaking concrete on the Coon Key Bridge earlier this week. 
We hope the measures being put into place, plus drivers being more aware of the new (temporary) traffic pattern, will help calm traffic throughout the project, which is expected to wrap up in early July. 
Orange/Main Roundabout - Public Art Installation     A sculpture will be installed in the center of the Orange Ave./Main St. roundabout this weekend, which will require a partial road closure for several hours.

Plan ahead:  Starting at 5 a.m. on Sunday, April 17,  the southeast
A rendering of 'Embracing Our Differences'
by artist S. Blessing Hancock. 
portion of the roundabout will be closed for several hours -- possibly into early afternoon -- while crews install "Embracing Our Differences", a public art piece.

To meet the public art requirement for major developments, the sculpture was commissioned by the developer of the Aloft hotel and One Palm apartments.  That developer partnered with the Embracing Our Differences organization in Sarasota to select the artwork and artist.

The sculpture will be a colorful infinity loop, signifying unity and diversity in the community.  It also will be the first public art installation in a roundabout within the city limits.

Towles Court - Art Award    For the second year, the Towles Court Art Association has recognized a young student with the High School Art Award.  This year the recipient is Angel Gonzalez at Riverview High School.

Angel's fabulous artwork will be formally honored during the Towles Court Third Friday Art Walk on April 15 and will be awarded $500.  Julisa Diego, a student at Suncoast Polytechnical High School, will be recognized with an honorable mention.

Congratulations to the artists and the Towles Court Art Association for encouraging young, aspiring artists to pursue an arts education.
L to R:  Donna Raymond congratulates winner Angel Gonzalez;
"Festival" by Angel Gonzalez

Instagram - #cityofsarasota    If you're on Instagram, the popular photo sharing social media platform, we encourage you to follow us! 

We launched an official City of Sarasota Instagram account earlier this week: 

This platform emphasizes visual images over the written word, so expect to see a healthy dose of beautiful photos from our special city, as well as groundbreaking ceremonies for community improvement projects, employee recognitions, and other interesting tidbits.

Instagram demographics skew more toward younger users (particularly those 18-29) and we hope to engage everyone, including our young residents.

The City also posts regularly on the following social media sites:

* Facebook
* Twitter
* YouTube

In addition, some departments and facilities have their own social media pages with messages focused on their particular area:

If you're on social media, we encourage you to check out these pages -- we like to share with the community!  


Upcoming Events 
Suncoast Boat Show 
Fri., April 15:  10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sat., April 16:  10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sun., April 17:  10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Bayfront Marina 

Veterans Stand Down 
Sat., April 16
Payne Park Auditorium
8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Spring Arts & Crafts Festival 
Sat., & Sun., April 16 & 17
Selby Five Points Park
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

Tunes in the Park
Sat., April 16 
Laurel Park 
5 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Groundbreaking Ceremony:  Multi-Purpose Field 
Tues., April 19
Robert L. Taylor Community Complex
9 a.m. 

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

The following is a list of shows through April.  To view the entire Van Wezel season visit 
Paula Poundstone
Sun., April 17 - 7 p.m.
Catch Paula Poundstone at the Van Wezel on
April 17.


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

Cirque Mechanics Pedal Punk
Fri., April 22 - 8 p.m.

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

ZZ Top
Wed., April 27 - 8 p.m.
ZZ Top will be at the Van Wezel April 27.

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

With the Suncoast Boat Show at the Bayfront, it's expected to be a busy weekend in our special city.  Please note:  a "pay on entry" parking fee will be in place on Saturday and Sunday at both the Palm Ave. and State Street Garages.  $5 (cash only) to park in either location all day.  Whether you're attending the boat show, going to the Farmers Market or attending one of our marvelous cultural arts venues, we hope you enjoy your time in Sarasota.

'Weekly Briefs' will be on hiatus next Friday.  We'll be back April 29th.

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