From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
February 16, 2018
Weeknights are very active at the turf field at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex.  From lacrosse to soccer, high school teams to adult leagues, athletes are out here practicing, playing and competing under the lights at this popular regional recreational facility.  Every night in February is booked highlighting the need for this field and popularity of outdoor exercise and athletics in our region.


  • St. Armands BID
    Tues., February 20 - 8:30 a.m.

    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio

  • City Commission
    Tues., February 20 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., February 21 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Special City Commission
    Thurs., February 22 - 3:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers

  • Special City Commission
    Thurs., February 22 - 5 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Police Officers' Pension Plan Board of Trustees
    Fri., February 23 - 8:15 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Accounting & Payroll Systems Supervisor
Capital Projects Engineer
Commission Reporter
Communications Specialist
Irrigation Technician I
Janitorial/Maintenance - Van Wezel
Landscape Maintenance Tech II
Maintenance Tech - SPD 
Pension Plans Administrator
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
  Senior Pension Accountant
   Volunteer/Unpaid Intern     

Mental Health Seminar
Commissioner Jennifer Ahearn-Koch, Commissioner Hagen Brody, members of the SPD and our Independent Police Advisory Panel and I attended Tuesday's day long seminar on Sarasota County and Florida's mental health system at the Vincent Academy.

The comprehensive seminar was organized by Judge Erika Quartermaine of the 12th Judicial Circuit who heads up the local mental health court.   The key note speaker was Miami Judge Steven Leifman who has been a state and national leader in the movement to fill the gaps in our society's mental health system.  The de-institutionalization of the American model health system has created a crisis for our police, courts, jails, as well as the families and individuals in crisis.
Judge Leifman shared some amazing statistics, reminding those trying to make the system work that Florida is 50th in the country in funding mental health services.  The Judge also pointed out that because Florida has refused to participate in the Medicaid expansion program, which residents pay for, the result is that 90% of those leaving jail with mental health challenges have no insurance therefore have difficulty receiving treatment.

In those states which are taking advantage of Medicaid expansion, 90% of those leaving jail with mental health challenges are covered by insurance and can receive treatment.  This public policy decision made at the state level has Florida residents missing out on $52 billion worth of services, which could help greatly with our homeless challenges and jails, which have become de facto mental health holding cells.

L - R:  With Police Advisory Panel Member Dedra Anderson, 11th Judicial Circuit Judge Steven Leifman and Police Advisory Panels Administrator Heather Robison  

The other major suggestion Judge Leifman offered was that our Baker Act laws need to be modified to allow psychiatrists, magistrates and judges to order treatment for those found to be in need of treatment, not just those who are an imminent danger to self or others. 

Following this week's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the 18th mass shooting in the country in 2018, and it's only February, Judge Leifman's insights and policy suggestions should be taken up by the state legislature immediately.  Mental health disease needs to be taken as seriously and treated equally with physical health problems.  Even if the NRA continues to control our state and federal governments when it comes to the lack of assault weapon restrictions, local communities need the legislature to take up the mental health issue immediately and treat it with the sense of urgency and funding its needs.      

We thank Judge Quartermaine on her leadership with this issue and her team for putting together such an informative seminar on one of the most important and challenging issues of our times. 

This Week's Items to Know:

Presidents Day - Mon., Feb. 19   The City of Sarasota will observe the national holiday, Presidents Day, next Monday, February 19. 

While most administrative offices will be closed, trash, recycling and yard waste will be picked up as usual.

City recreational facilities will have regular hours of operation.

At 8 p.m., the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall will present ' Stayin' Alive', the quintessential tribute band to the Bee Gees.  The Box Office will be open until intermission.

Trash, recycling and yard waste will be collected as usual on Presidents Day. 
U.S. 41 Update - Notable Traffic Changes    FDOT has implemented several traffic changes along U.S. 41 between 14th Street and 10th Street in preparation for the roundabout construction:

(1) Traffic shift for NB & SB lanes is in effect 

(2)  No left turns --- NB and SB -- from 14th Street to just north of
      the 10th St. Boat Ramp 
(This includes no left turn into Whitaker
      Gateway Park.)

(3) Speed limit is reduced to 30 mph

(4) Speeding fines are doubled when workers are present

(5) Starting Monday, Feb. 19th, boaters will access the
Street Boat Ramp from U.S. 41 only.  The 10th Street
     access point will be closed.  Left turns from NB U.S. 41 into the
     Boat Ramp will be allowed. 

Some of the changes, such as the left turn prohibition, are due to a
The southbound lane shift on U.S. 41. 
lack of right of way to create a left turn lane.  By not allowing left turns, FDOT hopes to be proactive and prevent traffic from stopping and stacking. 

Following the City's request for  a neighborhood meeting to update the community on the project, FDOT is scheduling a meeting for early March. Project managers will be in attendance to explain the phases, answer questions and entertain suggestions.  As soon as the date and time are set we'll share that information on the City's social media channels.

Lido Pool - New Heater Coming    Even with the warmer temperatures we're experiencing, it can be a bit chilly swimming outdoors.  And, a heated pool can make all the difference when it comes to being motivated to get those exercise laps in.

After the Lido Pool was struck by lightning last summer, the heating system struggled and has not been operating properly.  That will change this Monday, Feb. 19 when a new heater will be installed.
A new pool heating system will be installed Feb. 19. 

The scheduling is well coordinated, since the pool is closed on Mondays, and the work will not interfere with anyone's exercise plans.

The heater typically is set at 80 degrees, which translates to a pleasant 78-79 water temperature, which Lido Pool patrons find favorable for laps.

We appreciate the patience of swimmers who have endured the chillier conditions while the heat was out.

Hazardous Waste Collection - Sat., Feb. 17   Do you have old cans of paint in your garage you don't know how to dispose of?  Or maybe pool chemicals or motor oil? 

You'll have a chance to unload those hazardous household items this weekend during a collection event the City is hosting at Payne
Last year's hazardous waste collection
event was also held at Payne Park. 
Park in partnership with Sarasota County.

Items will be collected Sat., Feb. 17 from 8 a.m. to noon in the parking lots adjacent to Payne Park between Ringling Blvd. and School Ave.

Extra dumpsters will be on site for household garbage, bulk items and yard debris.

The event is for City of Sarasota and Sarasota County residents.  So, you may be asked to show proof of residency.

For a list of items that will be accepted click here.

We appreciate our Sustainability team coordinating with the County again this year to offer this community service, which helps us be better stewards of our precious environment. 

Ready for 100: Meeting #2    The second in a series of community planning meetings focused on renewable energy for the City's Ready for 100 initiative will be held Wed., Feb. 21 from 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex.

The City Commission joined the Sierra Club's Ready for 100 program committing to 100% renewable energy for City facilities and operations by 2030 and community-wide by 2045. They're ambitious goals which we are organizing to achieve. To help realize these targets,we're reaching out to the community for thoughts and input.

An engaged audience of about 50 residents participated in the initial community meeting in December.  And, we would like the participation and momentum to continue.

For more information click here or contact the Sustainability team:  941-365-2200 ext. 4202. 
Rosemary Sunset Market at Cityside   City staff has been working with the Sarasota Farmers Market recently to help facilitate a weekly farmers market in the Rosemary District.

With many new residents moving into the neighborhood, the idea is to offer a smaller version of the popular Saturday market with 40 vendors selling fresh, healthy produce and other items.  Live music and seating will be part of the Rosemary Sunset Market.

The market will be held Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on May Lane between Cocoanut Ave. and Florida Ave. adjacent to the new Cityside apartments. 

It's scheduled to kick off Thurs., Feb. 22 with initial plans for it to continue for 8-weeks. 

We appreciate Executive Director Phil Pagano and the Farmers Market testing and expanding their business model outside of downtown to include residents who will be able to walk and bicycle a short distance to this outdoor neighborhood market. 
Climate Change Symposium - April 17   I'm honored to have been invited as a guest speaker at the Suncoast Climate Change Symposium:  "Climate in Crisis" on April 17 from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium.  As the renewable energy economy grows, more opportunities are generated for job creation throughout the nation, Florida and right here in Sarasota. I'll talk about the encouraging prospects for further economic development in this burgeoning field.

Two nationally known speakers also will discuss the impact of climate change.    Dr. Stuart Pimm, Chair of Conservation Ecology at Duke University will highlight present day extinctions and how we can prevent them.  And,  author and environmental journalist Dick Russell will take a thorough look at the energy industry and how its practices are altering life as we know it for generations to come.

There is a modest admission of $20, $10 for students, which includes dinner, book signing, and photo opportunities.

For a complete event schedule and to register click here.

Thanks to Sarasota resident Brian Hunter for organizing the symposium and his continued passion to educate people about the effects of climate change.

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

Van Wezel seats

The following is a list of shows through Feb. 2018.  To view the entire Van Wezel season visit    
Barry Manilow 
Fri., Feb. 16 - 8:30 p.m.

Michael McDonald 
Sat., Feb. 17 - 8 p.m. 

The Hot Sardines 
Sun., Feb. 18 - 7 p.m.
Stayin' Alive 
Mon., Feb. 19 - 8 p.m.
Gordon Lightfoot 
Thurs., Feb. 22 - 8 p.m.
Moscow Festival Ballet - Romeo & Juliet & Carmen 
Tues., Feb. 27 - 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

Weekly Briefs will be on hiatus until March 9th.  Have a wonderful weekend in our special city!

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Tom Barwin
City Manager