From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
July 26, 2019

Along with community partners, Mayor Liz Alpert, the City's homelessness response team and I joined County Judge David Denkin of the 12th Judicial Circuit, center, in speaking to members of the media earlier this week about Community Care Court, which recently marked its six-month anniversary. This unique program, the first of its kind in the state, has already been successful in helping homeless individuals who are charged with minor criminal activity within the city limits be diverted into one of the many available social service programs and off the street. Read more below in This Week's Items to Know.


  • Downtown Improvement District
    Wed., July 31- 1 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Board of Rules and Appeals
    Wed., July 31 - 3 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Community Workshop
    Wed., July 31 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Newtown CRA Advisory Board Special Meeting
    Thurs., August 1 - 5:30 p.m.
    Robert L. Taylor Community Complex - 1845 John Rivers St.
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This Week's Items to Know:

Homelessness Response - Community Care Court   In our continued efforts to address homelessness, we've partnered with many agencies in Sarasota to start a specialized court called Community Care Court which focuses solely on homeless individuals cited for minor non-violent crimes.
Now in its sixth month, the Community Care Court is all about coordination, continuity and consistency.  A team of professionals -- case workers, attorneys, and a judge -- all work closely with the individual who voluntarily agrees to be diverted into the program.
This approach offers a consistent, coordinated effort to address the real
Community Care Court hearing this week with
County Judge David Denkin.   
underlying reasons for the person's homelessness through mental health screenings and substance abuse assessments.  The emphasis is to stay out of trouble while creating a better living situation, which includes the City's case workers helping with housing, employment and healthcare needs.
Recently, a news story circulated about a homeless person's unacceptable behavior in downtown Sarasota. Turns out, that individual had been cited 90 times for various minor infractions.  With Community Care Court, we're closing the gap so repeat offenders will be tracked and given an opportunity to participate in this new program.     
This specialized court will place those willing in a safe environment and on a path to find solutions to the root causes of their homelessness. 
Some individuals aren't ready to change and simply opt for jail time or fines.  Already, though, we're seeing interest in this new program.  Some of the chronic homeless who have been living on our streets for years are opting in.  And, we're seeing some early signs of success with individuals graduating from the program and being housed.
Herald-Tribune reporter Barbara Peters Smith attended the Community Care Court hearings this week and provided an excellent account of this herculean effort, which I encourage you to read.     
An endeavor like this is the result of many partners who are committed to helping the homeless and the community.  A special thank you goes out to County Judge David Denkin of the 12th Judicial Circuit, State Attorney Ed Brodsky, Public Defender Larry Eger, Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which generously provided $15,000 toward the new court's costs.
And, thank you to the SPD, Assistant City Attorney Joe Polzak and Homelessness Response Coordinator Kevin Stiff and his outstanding team of street case managers -- Krystal Frazier and Carly Tolkacz -- who have developed strong relationships with local service providers to get homeless individuals the attention they need -- when they're ready for it -- in a timely manner.
First Row: State Attorney of the 12th Judicial Circuit Ed Brodsky, Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, Mayor Liz Alpert, Clerk of the Circuit Court Karen Rushing, Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness Interim CEO Tara Booker, City of Sarasota Homelessness Response Coordinator Kevin Stiff

Second Row: 12th Judicial Circuit Administrator Walt Smith, City Manager Tom Barwin, former Chief Judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit Charles E. Williams, Assistant City Attorney Joe Polzak, Gulf Coast Community Foundation Senior Vice President for Community Investment Jon Thaxton, Public Defender of the 12th Judicial Circuit Larry Eger  

Sitting: County Court Judge David Denkin of the 12th Judicial Circuit
St. Armands - Pedestrian Safety  To help create a more pedestrian friendly environment at St. Armands Circle, the Florida Department of Transportation is installing speed humps entering, exiting and going around the traffic circle.
The installation is very weather sensitive requiring dry conditions before, during and after.  Due to Mother Nature and the heavy downpours we've been experiencing recently, the project has taken a bit longer than expected.   All the humps should be installed fairly soon after the soggy weather dissipates and the pavement dries.  
For now, be on the lookout for the new speed tables -- and be prepared to slow down and safely yield to pedestrians.   
One of the new speed humps on St. Armands Circle recently installed by FDOT.

Parks & Recreation - Social Media   Did you know our Parks and Recreation Department is on social media?   
Look for them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where they share information about upcoming activities, photos from fun events at our rec facilities (summer camp!), Parks and Recreation job openings and even historical retrospectives.  They also share interesting tidbits about our cherished urban park system, which is 50+ strong.  And, their social media channels are a good go-to to find out if inclement weather has prompted an outdoor facility like Bobby Jones Golf Club or Payne Park Tennis Facility, to temporarily close.
Whichever platform you choose -- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter --  we encourage you to follow Sarasota Parks and Recreation District and keep up with the very latest happenings with this very active part of the city. 
For updates on the 50+ parks and facilities included in the Sarasota Parks and Recreation District, follow the district on social media.    

Van Wezel:  Subscriptions on Sale Now! 

To view the full Van Wezel season, visit 
Friday Fest - Reverend Barry and the Funk 
Fri., August 16 - 5 p.m.
FREE Event 
Friday Fest - Ari and the Alibis 
Fri., September 20 - 5 p.m.
FREE Event 
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