From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
October 4, 2019


The informational open house for the US 41-Fruitville Road roundabout was very well attended earlier this week in the Grand Foyer of the Van Wezel.  Approximately 100 residents stopped in to chat with the project team, see visuals of the construction area, planned detours, and use Matchbox cars to simulate the proper way to enter and exit a two-lane roundabout.  Expect to see the project begin within the next couple of weeks and finish by Fall 2020.  Couldn't make it to the open house?  Materials, including a project overview video, will be posted next week on
(website currently under construction).  

Homelessness Update 

Our Homelessness Response team continues to receive national recognition for its innovative approach to addressing what is the most challenging issue I've experienced in my 30+ years as a police officer and city manager.  
Homelessness Response Coordinator Kevin Stiff and Assistant City Attorney Joe Polzak were invited to speak recently at the International Crisis Intervention Training conference in Seattle. Their 1.5-hour presentation discussed how their work stretches from outreach teams to systems. Our case workers talk with the chronic homeless on the street, then draw from the many social service systems in the region to connect individuals with needed mental health, employment and housing services.
Homelessness Response Coordinator Kevin Stiff and Assistant City Attorney Joe Polzak met with City of Seattle representatives about homelessness issues.      
A rapidly growing metropolitan area, Seattle is experiencing street homelessness like never before. During their time there, Kevin and Joe had the opportunity to meet with the City of Seattle Police Department, Mayor's Office and City Attorney's Office and compare notes about the ebb and flow o f chronic homelessness and effective solutions.  
Homelessness Response Coordinator Kevin Stiff talking with a Seattle Police Officer.
Progress in the Sarasota city limits has been steady and substantial. The Point in Time homeless count conducted in January 2019 by the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness showed a 50 percent reduction in homelessness over the past four years. Emergency medical transports for homeless individuals have decreased by 50.4 percent from August 2018 to August 2019.
While progress has been made, over the past month there's been a noticeable uptick in the number of homeless individuals in the Rosemary  District, Gillespie Park and downtown. We believe this may be connected to a recent policy change at the Salvation Army of Manatee. That agency discontinued its practice of providing emergency mat space for up to 90 individuals per night. Since the change, the Salvation Army Sarasota has
Social workers are part of the Sarasota Homeless Outreach Teams, which extend into outreach systems. 
experienced a 60 percent increase (approximately 50 people) for overnight shelter stays. The Resurrection House in Sarasota
shared with us that service requests are up, including record numbers for lunch recently. Our team met with the Salvation Army Manatee about the policy change and learned that while the emergency bed policy will not be reinstated, the agency is continuing to offer 150 beds for individuals registered in one of its recovery programs.  
As we monitor developments, we'd like to remind our charitable community that the most effective way to help the homeless is through a contribution directly to a social service agency. For more information please contact the   Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness
Also, congratulations to Kevin and Joe and the City's Homeless Outreach Team, who were honored Thursday night by the Sarasota NAACP during the 34th Annual Freedom Awards Banquet with the President's Award for their impactful efforts resulting in a significant decline in homelessness in the community.   


  • City Commission
    Monday, Oct. 7 - 1:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Informal City Commission
    Tuesday., Oct. 8 - 3 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • St. Armands BID
    Wednesday, Oct. 9 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Community Workshop
    Thursday, Oct. 10 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112

Featured Job of the Week 

Other great opportunities!  

This Week's Items to Know:

Lido Concession Stand - Updates   Two significant updates regarding our popular Lido Pavilion as we move forward with the long-awaited and much-needed renovations: 
A.  Temporary Food Trucks - With the concession contract now expired, food trucks will continue food and beverage service on a temporary basis while the concession stand is closed and improvements underway.  A variety of food trucks known in the Sarasota area will be there on a rotating basis, with one on site each day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. selling concessions and collecting Lido Pool entrance fees.
Ribeye Wagon launched the temporary food truck operations at Lido Beach earlier this week.  One truck will be on site daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
B.  Vendor Recommended -  After reviewing responses to the City's  Request For Proposals for a concessionaire at Lido Beach, the selection committee unanimously recommended ALA Restaurant, Inc./dba Bevardi's Salute.  This means the City's intent is to award the contract to Bevardi's Salute, a local entity with an established  restaurant in downtown Sarasota at Lemon Avenue and First Street.  Negotiations will begin soon, then a contract will go to the City Commission for consideration in the next couple of months. 
Thank you to our Procurement General Manager David Boswell for overseeing this solicitation process, which has a significant amount of community interest.  And, a big thanks to Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Fogle and his staff for ensuring food service will continue at our popular beach while the concession kitchen is renovated.   
Bobby Jones Golf Club - Park Conservancy:  Meeting 10/15 
Following the City Commission's decision to integrate the 300-acre Bobby Jones Golf Club into the entire community with a parks component and greater public access to the property, initial talks with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast about a possible permanent conservation easement have resulted in setting a public input session for park planning.
How do you envision Bobby Jones as a conservation area? Please join us for a discussion: 
Community Meeting
Tuesday, Oct. 15 - 6 p.m.
Bobby Jones Golf Club - Clubhouse, 1000 Circus Blvd.
An agreement for a conservation easement would ensure the permanent conservation of this vast green space for the betterment of the community.  For generations to come, golf and light recreation would be allowed on the protected parkland, which plays a vital environmental role retaining and filtering stormwater from the region before flowing into Sarasota Bay.
In the near future, 36 of the 45 holes at the historic municipal golf course will be renovated, with the remaining estimated 50 acres integrated into parkland.  The entire 300-acre Bobby Jones property is now being considered for permanent conservation through the Conservation Foundation. With hundreds of trees, dozens of species of birds and a multitude of wildlife species on the property, located within one half-mile from where the Legacy Trail extension will cross Beneva Road, the possibilities abound.
We'd like to hear from you. Please mark your calendars for this important community discussion on October 15. 
Bobby Jones
Historic Bobby Jones Golf Club  
Procurement - New Bid Solicitation Program   On October 1, the City's new budget cycle started as well as a new bid solicitation program. The new system, called BidSync, will improve the bid process for those doing business with the City as well as our procurement staff.
Similar to the previous service, BidSync is web-based.  It is used by Sarasota County as well as many municipalities,
Procurement General Manager David Boswell assisting a vendor register for the City's new bid solicitation program.

so it should be a seamless transition for many vendors.   
Vendors new to BidSync can register at no cost online.
To help with the transition, our Procurement team has been hosting complimentary training sessions at various locations around town, registering vendors with the new system and offering insight into the City's solicitation process one-on-one.  So far, during three training sessions -- including an evening at City Hall and a Saturday in North Sarasota -- 20 vendors have been enrolled.  
The final training session will be held Thursday, Oct. 10 at the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, 1945 Fruitville Rd., from 8 a.m. to noon.  We hope to sign up many new vendors there!
Congratulations to our Procurement General Manager David Boswell and his team for thinking outside the box to simplify and streamline the City's bid solicitation process, including the first step -- registering!
Community Canopy - 100 Free Trees!   The popular Community Canopy program returns to Sarasota next week, with 100 trees available at no cost for City residents.

  A Community Canopy sapling being planted last fall. 
The City has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation for the past several years to offer free, Florida-native trees, with the goal of expanding our urban canopy and cutting down on residents' energy bills. To date, we've given away more than 800 trees that will be cleaning the air and water in our local environment and reducing our energy consumption for decades to come.

The program is open to City residents only, with a limit of two trees per household. Four species are being offered this time - little gem magnolia, dahoon holly, sweetbay magnolia and baldcypress - and they'll be delivered to the resident's home in a one-gallon container.

To participate, you must reserve your trees online at when the program kicks off at midnight Sunday, Oct. 6. You may want to bookmark the website and set yourself an alarm - the trees are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and are often snatched up very quickly once the online reservation tool becomes active - sometimes within 24 hours!

Kudos to our Sustainability team for their efforts in overseeing the City's participation in this wonderful program. For questions or more information, contact the Arbor Day Foundation at 855-234-3801. 
Trunk-or-Treat: Registration    It's that time of year!  Registration is now open to enter a vehicle for our annual Trunk-or-Treat extravaganza at Robert L. Taylor Community Complex on Wednesday, Oct. 30. 
The deadline for Trunk-or-Treat vehicle
registration is Oct. 26.
Community members are invited to deck out their vehicles with spooky Halloween decorations for this fun, family-friendly event and pass out tasty treats to all the little ghouls and goblins as they tour the festive area. Prizes will be awarded for the Best Decorated Trunk.  
To participate in the trunk decorating contest, your vehicle must be registered by Saturday, Oct. 26.  Please note that vehicles will need to be in place at the RLTCC parking lot by 4:30 p.m. the day of the event and stay until the event ends at 7 p.m.  Those sponsoring a trunk need to provide their own vehicle decorations and wrapped candy or treats to give out.  Like more information?  Contact RLTaylor.Complex@SarasotaFL.Gov or 941-263-6562   
In addition to the decorated vehicles, Trunk-or-Treat will feature a costume contest, bounce houses and fun games for the youngsters.  The festivities will take place Oct. 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at RLTCC, 1845 John Rivers St.
Over the years, Trunk-or-Treat has become a neighborhood favorite, and we look forward to another ghoulishly good time! Thanks in advance to our Parks & Rec staff and their party planning efforts for kids of all ages.  

Van Wezel:  Subscriptions on Sale Now! 

To view the full Van Wezel season, visit 
Once:  The Musical
Wed., October 9
Neil Berg's 50 Years of Rock & Roll:  Part III 
Fri., November 1
Roy Orbison & Buddy Holly - The Rock 'N' Roll Dream Tour 
Mon., November 4 
Dwight Yoakam 
Sat., November 16
Straight No Chaser:  The Open Bar Tour 
Sun., November 17
Latin History for Morons 
Tues., November 19
Cirque Dreams Holidaze 
Fri., November 22
Sat., November 23
Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour 2019 
Fri., November 29
Sebastian Maniscalco:  You Bother Me 
Sat., November 30
The Book of Mormon 
January 7-12, 2020
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons 
Sun., February 9, 2020
Johnny Mathis - The Voice of Romance Tour 
Thurs., April 16, 2020
The Bachelor Live on Stage 
Thurs., May 7, 2020
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