From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
September 16, 2016

Video of the Week

Tuesday was a significant and festive day in our community as we officially opened the new artificial turf athletic field at Robert L. Taylor Community Complex.  During the ribbon cutting ceremony, several members of the community commented that the field is the realization of a dream 20+ years in the making.  Thanks to the perseverance of the community and vision of the City Commission, which kept funding in tact through budget cuts associated with the Great Recession, the field is now a reality and open for play!   During the first 3 weeks of the soft opening, 4,200 players and spectators visited the field -- a remarkable number that highlights the enthusiasm and need for this regional recreation destination.  Already, the field is being reserved for adult and youth football, soccer, lacrosse and other sports.  We anticipate many family memories will be made here! Congratulations to everyone for your dedication and commitment to the project.  For more information please contact the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex:  941-954-4182.    

  • General Employees' Pension Board
    Mon., September 19 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commission
    Mon., September 19 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Development Review Cmte
    Wed., September 21 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Firefighters' Pension Plan Board of Trustees
    Wed., September 21 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Community Workshop
    Thurs., September 22 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112

City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.  

Box Office Operator
Engineering Technician III
Facility Maintenance
Facility Maintenance Tech
GIS Coordinator
Landscape Maintenance Tech I
Lifeguard I
Maintenance Mechanic II
Parking Administrative Specialist
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant
Refuse Equipment Operator
Supervisor - Landscape Maintenance
Utilities Capital Projects Manager
Zoning Analyst


Homeless Update     
This past Wednesday, Mayor Shaw, Deputy Manager Brown and I visited Leon County and its largest city, Tallahassee, to tour the Kearney Homeless Emergency Services Center.  Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight, Sarasota County Homeless Services Director Wayne Applebee, and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation's Executive Director Mark Pritchett and Senior Vice  President Jon Thaxton were also a part of the delegation.

Inspired by businessman Rick Kearney, the privately led center has dramatically improved the services to the chronically homeless by coordinating mental health, physical health, job and housing services in a new emergency services center located six miles from downtown Tallahassee.  Located on approximately 4 acres, the Kearney Center cost approximately $7 million to build and runs on an annual budget of approximately $2 million.

Beyond the Center, the Kearney team continues to build innovative housing programs into their operation.  In Leon County, our delegation toured a rooming house which accommodates 20 formerly homeless people per building.   We observed a short term bunk house and walked the property where ground will be broken next month for a new single room occupancy building. 

Graduates of the Kearney Center qualify to live in this community. 
Kearney strives to make housing units available for $375 per month, the costs of which are typically covered by income formerly homeless have through employment or benefits they have qualified for. Case support for those who need it is provided by the local agencies who specialize in this work and who partner with the Kearney team.

With site plan approval by Leon County in hand, Kearney's next housing project will be the construction of small so called "tiny" homes.

Rick Kearney and his team will visit Sarasota County next week and will be featured at a Sarasota Tribune Hot Topics Forum next Tuesday, September 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the Selby Auditorium on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail.

I'd like to thank Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer for making us aware of the Kearney operation in Leon County.

We remain hopeful that some of the best practices we have learned about will continue to gain momentum in our county. 

This Week's Items to Know:
Lift Station 87 - Progress Update   Work on the Lift Station 87 project continues to go well.  This week, the contractor began horizontal directional drilling to prepare for the installation of a 24-inch drinking water pipe under the Hudson Bayou.  Once drilling is completed, crews will begin pulling pipe into the bore path.  That's expected to occur next week sometime between Sept. 21 and Sept. 23.

During the pipe pull-back activity, crews will stage the pipeline temporarily in the center of Osprey Ave. between Lincoln Dr. and Alta Vista.  Flag persons will be present to help direct drivers.

The installation of the new potable water main is an important infrastructure investment which will enhance service reliability to water customers in the area.

Three sections of water main pipe, each 250 feet long, have been fused together in preparation for the horizontal directional drill.  For staging purposes, the pipes will be temporarily moved south into the center of Osprey Ave.
Lift Station 7 - The recent heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Hermine highlighted again the need for a new, modern lift station (LS 87) to replace the aging Lift Station 7. 

The torrential rains decreased the pumping capacity at LS 7 to the point that the Utilities Department is now undertaking a 4-step emergency process to restore the full capacity.  That process will include checking all the valves, removing the pumps, cleaning the wet wells, and repairing or replacing the pumps. 

A portion of this unexpected maintenance will require the wet well to be open.  That means odors could be present.  To help mitigate the situation, additional odor control equipment will be brought to the site. The cleaning is currently underway and is expected to be finished in two weeks.
We appreciate the understanding of residents who live near LS 7 as we endeavor to maintain this critical Utilities infrastructure which handles one-third of the City's wastewater flow.    

Bobby Jones Golf Club - American Greens    Crews finished installing 18 new greens on the American Course at Bobby Jones Golf Club last week.  Now, we're waiting for nature to take its course with the Diamond Zoysiagrass growing together.  All the rain we've been receiving recently has helped with the greens taking root.  If it continues to go well, we anticipate the American Course with the brand new greens will reopen to the public sometime in October.

Re-grassing greens is a somewhat lengthy process with many stages, which were documented by staff.  You can check out a pictorial of the various stages by clicking here.        

Not only did the installation go well, the final project cost came in $61,600 under budget.  Well done! 

Newly installed sod on the #6 green immediately after being mowed and rolled.  The seams will be virtually invisible when the American Course reopens. 

We anticipate the new greens will inject renewed enthusiasm at the course, as we move toward creating a long term master plan for this community jewel.   
Bobby Jones Golf Club - End of Summer Sale    The End of Bobby Jones Logo Summer Sale is going on now through September 30 at Bobby Jones Golf Club.  Almost everything at the golf shop is discounted up to 40 percent off.  Bridgestone golf balls, Adidas polo shirts, and golf shoes -- all are on sale at inviting prices.  Stop by the golf shop, 1000 Circus Blvd., now through the end of the month and take advantage of these great deals.  For more info click here.  

Watershed Audio Tour   The City of Sarasota is featured in an educational audio tour about watersheds in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.  Coordinated by the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida, the goal of the audio tour is to educate the public about the importance of protecting watersheds.

32 different messages -- from living shorelines to seagrasses -- can be heard by calling 941-926-6813 or visiting   Each message is associated with a location in our area.  You're encouraged to download a tour map from the website and visit each location for a more interactive and personal experience.  For example, at Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota you can learn about sea level rise.

The watershed audio tour features 32 locations.
Photo Courtesy:  Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida. 
Our Sustainability Manager, Stevie Freeman-Montes, is the voice on stop #15 at Bayfront Park talking about sea level rise  -- what it is and what it means for the community.  As a city, we're already beginning to research and plan for sea level rise and how it will impact our infrastructure  So, we enthusiastically support sharing information with the public about sea level rise and its anticipated acceleration.

This public awareness campaign was partially funded by the Florida Beverage Association and Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.     

WSRQ - Monthly Guest    Donnie Cogswell and Bob Rinear, talk show hosts on WSRQ, have invited the administration to be a regular guest on their program 'SRQ Review'.  The second Tuesday of each month, we join them in the studio live on the air to discuss current events happening in our special city.  The show airs during the afternoon drive shift at 4 p.m.  And, if you can't tune in at that particular time, each program is conveniently archived on their website as a podcast.  This week's edition can be heard by clicking here.

We appreciate this partnership and the opportunity talk about a variety of issues impacting the community and what the city is doing to make Sarasota a vibrant and livable community.  See you on the air!
With Donnie Cogswell and Bob Rinear in the WSRQ studio. 

Communications - National Presentation    Senior Communications Manager Jan Thornburg was invited to make a presentation to a national conference of government communicators last week in San Antonio.  The topic was 'Mobile Video Production 101:  Create Quality Videos with Your Phone'. 

When it comes to content on social media platforms, video is king. 
Sr. Communications Manager Jan Thornburg at the annual 3CMA national conference.
And, with the prevalence of smart phones and video editing apps, the ability to record and edit a video in a matter of minutes -- including music, transitions and titles --  is now quite feasible. 

Using just a phone, Jan has produced interesting videos on everything from the new flower baskets in downtown to MLK Day and Friday Fest.  During the conference session, she explained how she's able to produce such high quality videos with just a cell phone.  Many attendees from across the country, with minimal staff and budgets, were particularly interested in the presentation saying it was the one of the most beneficial sessions during the 3-day conference.

Jan has been editing video for 30 years and never imagined being able to produce quality, impactful videos with a mobile device.  We appreciate her dedication to staying on the cutting edge with this technology and willingness to share her expertise. 

Upcoming Events 
Cowboy Hoe Down 
Municipal Auditorium 
Sat., Sept. 17 
8 p.m.

Scottish Heritage Bagpipes 
Bayfront Island Park
Sun., Sept. 18 
7 p.m.

Feldenkries Class
Bayfront Community Center 
Wed., Sept. 21 
9:15 a.m.

Folk Dance
Bayfront Community Center 
Wed., Sept. 21 
7 p.m.

Stop! Town Hall 
Selby Library - Geldbart Auditorium 
Thurs., Sept. 22 
6 p.m.

Mental Illness: 
Seeking Solutions for Sarasota Co.
Panel Discussion 
Sarasota Memorial Hospital 
Waldemere Auditorium - 1st Floor
Fri., Sept. 23 - 10 a.m.  

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

The following is the current show schedule through 2016. For more information visit    

Friday Fest:  Dr. Dave Band
Fri., September 23 - 5 p.m.

Sun., September 25 - 2 p.m.

Celtic Thunder
Sat., Oct. 15 - 8 p.m.

Doo Wop Spectacular
Sat., October 22 - 7:30 p.m.
Capitol Steps will be at the
Van Wezel Nov. 1.


Mary Chapin Carpenter
Fri., October 28 - 8 p.m.

ZZ Top
Mon., October 31 - 8 p.m.

Capitol Steps
Tues., November 1 - 8 p.m.

Mannheim Steamroller
Fri., November 18 - 8 p.m.

Decades Rewind
Sat., November 19 - 8 p.m.

Dave Koz Christmas Tour 2016
Fri., November 25 - 8 p.m.

Melissa Etheridge's Holiday Trio
Sun., November 27 - 7 p.m.

Jim Brickman
Tues., November 29 - 7:30 p.m.
Catch 'Decades Rewind' on Nov. 19 at the Van Wezel.

Fame The Musical
Wed., December 7 - 7 p.m.

Oak Ridge Boys
Sat., December 10 - 8 p.m.

Beach Boys 'Christmas'
Mon., December 12 - 7:30 p.m.

Garrison Keillor
Tues., December 13 - 8 p.m.

The Sarasota Ballet - George Balanchine's Jewels
Fri., December 16 - 7:30 p.m.
Sat., December 17 - 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Tickets - Sarasota Ballet Website

A Christmas Carol
Wed., December 21 - 8 p.m.
Garrison Keillor will be at the
Van Wezel Dec. 13.

Rogers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Tues., December 27 - 7 p.m.
Wed., December 28 - 7 p.m.

Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker
Thurs., December 29 - 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.

42nd Street
Fri., December 30 - 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