From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
February 2, 2018
Construction crews mobilized to Luke Wood Park this week to begin demolition on Phase II of the Lift Station 87 project.  This process involves heavy construction equipment, and proactive measures are in place to minimize impacts to the surrounding area.  Sensors are now installed to monitor vibration levels and crews will be adhering to the City's noise ordinance.  In addition, steps have been taken to reduce the amount of dirt/mud tracked onto Mound Street as trucks exit the site.  We encourage drivers to be on the lookout for slower moving trucks and construction workers in that area as demolition continues for the next  2-3 weeks.  For more information on this significant infrastructure project please visit:


  • City Commission
    Mon., February 5 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Downtown Improvement District
    Tues., February 6 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., February 7 - 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.
Accounting & Payroll Systems Supervisor
Commission Reporter
Digital Forensic Specialist
Inventory Technician
Irrigation Technician I
Landscape Maintenance Tech II 
Pension Plans Administrator
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
  Senior Pension Accountant
Solid Waste Helper - Collections, Part-time
   Volunteer/Unpaid Intern     

Vincent Academy

For the past few years, City Commissioners, I, the leadership of the Sarasota Police Department and others have noted that Florida is 50th in the U.S.A. in terms of state funding of mental health and substance abuse programs.  This situation often results in serious challenges to communities, the criminal justice system, and the emergency medical response system, not to mention individuals in crisis and their families.
With this background, it was a special pleasure for my office to tour the Vincent Academy located on Glengary Street, just south of our municipal boundary off of US 41, adjacent to bus route #17, within a stone's throw of Trader Joe's. The impressive new facility serves as a much needed vocational training center for adults who have experienced mental health challenges who too often have been isolated from the community.  The Academy provides skill training in a range of vocational training areas combined with a strong social network and support system.  During our tour, we shared a delicious and healthy lunch prepared and served by academy members. 
This hidden gem in our community is an asset you should be aware of.   The center welcomes tour requests and guests for lunch, although they request, if possible, you call ahead at 941.921.9930.  At $3 per lunch, $1 for the daily soup and $1 for a lunch salad, you can't beat the price and the quality is excellent.

Enjoying lunch at the Vincent Academy and learning about this impressive facility. 
We thank the major funders who made this remarkable facility come true including Joan and Bob Guyer of the Sunset Automotive Group, the Selby Foundation, the Steinwachs Family Foundation, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Central FL Behavioral Health Network and a variety of smaller donors who help sponsor programs and tuition support for academy members.
An ongoing need of the center will continue to be part-time employment opportunities for graduates of the academy.   The graduates cherish their jobs and being able to contribute to our economy.  The success stories are amazing as are the dedication and talents of Vincent Academy members.  

If you or your business or your association can help the Academy and its members in any way, I encourage you to think about it.  This is truly a community building opportunity and example of a community wide collaboration which can really make a difference.     
To learn more about the Vincent Academy visit their website:                                                    

This Week's Items to Know:

Parks & Rec - Online Survey    It's been nearly 30 years since a formal Parks & Recreation Department has been part of the City of Sarasota.  Now, the newly re-established department is very busy assessing the condition of the City's 50+ parks and evaluating community needs. 

Over the past several months, community meetings have been held to discuss the creation of a Parks & Rec Master Plan.  And, we'd like to hear from as many parks users as possible, to help chart a path forward with amenities, programs and equipment.

A comprehensive survey is now available online to help determine priorities.  To participate click here.

Thank you in advance for your time and thoughtful input.

And, thanks to Parks & Rec Director Jerry Fogle for shepherding this process along and casting a wide net seeking public input. 
New Utilities Director - Bill Riebe  Last Friday I had the opportunity to welcome our new Utilities Director, Bill Riebe, and meet with him out in the field inspecting some of the significant water and wastewater capital improvement projects underway that he will oversee on a day to day basis.

Bill is a registered Florida professional engineer and certified general
Welcoming Bill Riebe during his first day on the job and inspecting a new water main installation at Bahia Vista & East Ave.

contractor and comes to us with extensive experience in the public and private sectors, having served as a Utilities Director (Village of Wellington, Florida & City of North Augusta, South Carolina); and most recently Vice President of a global engineering consulting firm. 

Executing projects efficiently, on time and on budget are top priorities for him as well as addressing residents' concerns. For those on the interview committee, his expertise and approachable demeanor stood out. He tells us he's as comfortable working with a field crew on a water main break as resolving customer concerns.  And, he has returned to the public sector because he misses being part of a community and working to make a positive difference.   

Bill is replacing Utilities Director Mitt Tidwell who is retiring after doing a yeoman's job the past 5+ years shepherding critical improvement projects including major water main replacements and the successful microtunneling under the Hudson Bayou for Lift Station 87. We appreciate Mitt staying on board for awhile to help with the transition.       
Music Half Marathon - Feb. 4   Plan ahead for Sunday morning!  Approximately 4,000 runners, participating in the 4th Annual Sarasota Music Half Marathon, will hit the streets.

The 13.1 mile run starts at the Van Wezel at 6:30 a.m., goes down U.S. 41, across the Ringling Bridge, out to St. Armands Circle and
The Half Marathon will be held Sun., Feb. 4 from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 
through Harbor Acres, and Cherokee Park, with the finish line back at the Van Wezel. 

The event is a partially closed course, meaning runners and motorists will safely share the roads, with lane closures, including U.S. 41 and the Ringling Bridge. In the neighborhoods, police officers will be on site to help drivers safely navigate streets when gaps between runners permit. 

The fastest runners are estimated to be on Orange Ave. at approximately 7 a.m.  So, expect runners through that area until 9:30 a.m.  The cut off to finish the race is 10:30 a.m.

The half marathon features 21 live bands along the course and organizers encourage residents to line the streets and show their support for the runners.

If you have questions about the event, organizers ask that you send an email to:

With the combination of ideal running weather and a picturesque course, the Music Half Marathon quickly has become another signature special event for Sarasota.  Good luck to all!   

The Bay - Open Houses  The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization and the design and planning firm Sasaki will host three open houses next week seeking input on the future of the Bayfront.

The open houses will include interactive stations where visitors can come and go at their own pace and learn about the Sasaki team, the history of the Bayfront, and possibilities for the future.  Those in attendance will be asked to share what they envision for the Bayfront including activities, buildings, events, and open space.

The open houses will be held:

Tues., February 6
5 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Robert L. Taylor Community Complex

Wed., February 7
11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Van Wezel Grand Foyer

Thurs., February 8
8:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Van Wezel Grand Foyer

The Sasaki team plans to take feedback from these open houses and develop options which will be presented at the next major community meeting scheduled in April. 
ADA Symposium  The City's Human Resources Department recently hosted an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) symposium which included several discussions on voting accessibility, education on interactions with service animals, and a review of ADA compliance with building, parking and facility usage.

Held at our Robert L. Taylor Community Complex, the 6 hour seminar
was a free educational opportunity for municipalities, businesses and
60+ individuals from the Sarasota region
attended the symposium.
citizens to learn and ask questions about accessibility related concerns.

Architect Jeffrey Gross, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner and Suzy Wilburn, Director of Southeastern Guide Dogs, gave presentations.

Suzy, with her service dog, Carson, was kind enough to spend an hour discussing appropriate service dog etiquette, the parameters when welcoming service animals into businesses, specifics of training and supportive tasks that service animals perform for their owners.  The discussion was so enlightening and inspiring, the HR Department plans to invite Suzy back to speak with City employees so they can expand their knowledge of service animals.

This informative symposium was attended by 60+ staff members from the City of Sarasota, Sarasota County, Manatee County, City of North Port, Lakewood Ranch, Lee County and Suncoast Center for Independent Living as well individuals from the building and construction professions.

The City's Citizens with Disabilities Advisory Board along with the City Commission supported this educational opportunity and approved the funding, generated from accessible parking fines within the city limits.

Thanks to the HR Department for taking the lead and organizing this symposium on this important issue.    

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      
In The Mood 
Mon., Feb. 5 - 8 p.m.
Diana Krall 
Tues., Feb. 6 - 8 p.m. 
Travis Wall's Shaping Sound After The Curtain 
Wed., Feb. 7 - 8 p.m.
Brian Regan Live 
Thurs., Feb. 8 - 7:30 p.m.
Diana Krall will perform Feb. 6. 

Tony Bennett 
Sat., Feb. 10 - 8 p.m.
Ramsey Lewis & John Pizzarelli 
Sun., Feb. 11 - 8 p.m.
Dancing With the Stars: Live! - Light Up the Night 
Tues., Feb. 13 - 8 p.m.

The Beach Boys 
Wed., Feb. 14 - 7:30 p.m.
George Benson 
Thurs., Feb. 15 - 8 p.m.
Barry Manilow 
Fri., Feb. 16 - 8:30 p.m.

Michael McDonald 
Sat., Feb. 17 - 8 p.m. 
Catch George Benson on Feb. 15.

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

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Tom Barwin
City Manager