From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
July 20, 2018
The first two segments of the Osprey Ave. improvement project are now at the point where a fresh layer of asphalt is being layed down.   This is welcome news for the many drivers who have endured a bumpy ride on Osprey.  The second and final layer will be installed in late 2018.  To lessen traffic conflicts near Southside Elementary, this work was coordinated to start and end during summer vacation.  The project is ahead of schedule and the third segment, between Boyce St. and Hyde Park, is already underway.   That 5-block segment is located near the hospital and Southside Village and we appreciate everyone's continued patience and patronage of the Southside Village Business District during this needed road work.  As before, Osprey Ave. will remain open to 2-way traffic.  In total, 1.4 miles of Osprey Ave. will be resurfaced.  New curbs also are being installed, bike lanes restriped and new ADA compliant ramps added.


  • Firefighters' Pension Plan Board of Trustees
    Wed., July 25 - 9 a.m.

    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Board of Adjustment
    Wed., July 25 -1:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers

Caring for the Past

The Oaklands/Woodlawn Cemetery was the first in Sarasota County established for the burial of black residents. It is the final resting site of more than 1,200 people, including numerous World War I and II veterans.
The Oaklands/Woodlawn Cemetery was platted in 1910 as the first formally established cemetery for the burial of the city's and region's African-American residents.
In recent times, Oaklands/Woodlawn has suffered from a lack of clear ownership and lapsed maintenance, leading to vegetative overgrowth and gravesites in disrepair or hidden by vegetative debris. The s ite  became a magnet for homelessness and illegal activities, resulting in a poor representation of a community asset.
In 2016, the City Commission took action by reestablishing the cemetery trustees and directing City staff to work with the state to have the property brought into City ownership. In addition, the Commission  approved funding to begin restoration and enhancement projects at the property, which
started with the removal of invasive plant material and tree and palm work. Staff also coordinated with contractors to conduct an inventory of the burial sites, to perform restoration work to the nameplates, headstones and burial vaults and to perform site grading work to create a pond feature.
A before-and-after look at restoration work done at
the burial sites at Oaklands/Woodlawn Cemetery.

Those assorted projects have resulted in a more positive visitor experience and a sense of pride and ownership for the community. Students from Sarasota Military Academy students also got involved by placing American flags at the graves of service members, including World War I and II veterans who were laid to rest there. All these activities have greatly reduced the issues with homelessness and improved the cemetery's appearance.
The cemetery is the resting place of some citizens who were born at the
end of the Civil War. The earliest date of death on a marked grave is from 1905. Residents of the Johnson Camp for farm workers in the Fruitville area, the
Bee Ridge Turpentine Camp, Laurel and Woodmere (a sawmill town south of Venice) and from Sarasota's Overtown and Newtown communities are buried there. According to funeral home records and tombstones, at least 1,200 people were buried there by 1980, and there may have been even more whose wooden markers have disappeared over time.
Going forward, staff will work on developing plans for the ongoing maintenance and repair at the cemetery and work on additional enhancement projects to include decorative fencing and gates and improvements to the landscaping and walkway. They will also work on developing landscape guidelines for family members who wish to improve their loved ones' burial plots.
This proactive response from the City and community will ensure that the cemetery remains a peaceful, safe and beautiful place befitting the final resting place of our past community members, friends and family.  

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

Administrative Specialist II - Permitting
Landscape Maintenance Tech I
Pension Plans Administrator
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
PRD - Facility Maintenance Technician - Part-Time
PRD - Head Life Guard
PRD - Life Guard
PRD - Life Guard - Part Time
PRD - Maintenance Mechanic I - Clay Tennis Courts
PRD - Recreation Attendant - Part-Time
PRD - Recreation Facilities Supervisor - Arlington Park
PRD - Recreation Facilities Supervisor - Payne Park Tennis
PRD - Rec Leader - Payne Park Tennis
     Volunteer/Unpaid Intern    

This Week's Items to Know:

St. Armands Parking   - Available Spaces   As construction of the new parking garage on St. Armands Key continues on schedule, we'd like to remind those heading to St. Armands Circle there's plenty of available parking in the area. 
Visitors are encouraged to park on-street along John Ringling Boulevard and Boulevard of the Presidents.  Surface lot parking is also available in the Fillmore Lot behind Crab and Fin.
From those parking locations, it's a brief walk to the many popular cafes, shops and restaurants along the Circle.
The Parking Division is distributing a flyer with a map showing available parking areas.  Click here to check it out.  
Construction crews are making good progress on the new garage and it remains on schedule to open in December.  
The green highlighted areas indicate available on-street and
surface lot parking on St. Armands Circle. 
Sustainability - Regional Leader Recognition   The City's commitment to creating a more sustainable community has been  recognized as one of the top in the southeast region.
Community Sustainability USA recently analyzed 131 cities with a population over 50,000 in seven states:  Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  Key factors were compared, including greenhouse gas inventories, measurable greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, government installations and procurement of renewable energy, measurable renewable energy goals, climate action plans and city resolutions for climate action.
Out of the 131 cities, Sarasota is ranked #2 in the southeast (tied with Atlanta) --  and we're the top city on Florida's west coast.  To be recognized as a leader in setting renewable energy goals and tracking that progress is indeed an honor.   
This past January, the City Commission adopted a climate adaptation plan which is now a working guide as the City replaces or modifies assets that could be especially vulnerable to climate change.  Last month, the Sustainability Team wrapped up a series of community input sessions for our local Ready for 100 initiative with a target of 100% renewable energy for City operations by 2030 and community-wide by 2045.
Thanks to Sustainability Manager Stevie Freeman-Montes and her team for their impressive work leading this important program for our community. The foundation has been laid for even more progress in the future. 
Budget - Preliminary Millage Set   Monday night, the City Commission set the preliminary operating millage rate at 3.2632 mills for the Fiscal Year 2018-19.  This modest millage adjustment of .0904 mills from the current rate would be the first increase since 2014.  Notably, the City's current rate is one of the lowest city millage rates in the state with Sarasota being in the bottom 25 percentile.   
The expense structure of the budget will change on October 1st as Sarasota County returns five popular parks and rec facilities to the City for operations and maintenance.  The net cost to maintain these well used facilities at a proper level of service will be approximately $914,000 next year -- the same amount that will be generated with the slight millage increase.
With 35+ years' experience as a city administrator in the Midwest and Florida, and in sharing experience with colleagues, auditors and bond rating agencies, I've learned the best method to address a significant structural change to an annual budget, such as the addition of the five parks, is to build it into the budget immediately.  Waiting to address it can only compound the issue down the road.   
Five positions also are being added to the Sarasota Police Department to help respond to the needs of our growing resident and visitor populations. 

Other major cost increases that are being addressed include $1.3 million in retiree benefit increases, $2 million absorbed responding to Hurricane Irma and beginning to fund long-overdue repairs at Bobby Jones Golf Club. These expenses exceed growth revenues, and were able to be covered through reserves saved for such circumstances.
Two public hearings are scheduled for the budget.  Both will take place during City Commission meetings at 6 p.m.  All are welcome to provide input:
  • Tues., September 7
  • Mon., September  17
The proposed FY 2018-19 budget is available for review on the City's website SarasotaFL.Gov 
Homeless Response  - WLSS Radio Interview   Day in and day out our Homeless Outreach Teams are actively working with homeless individuals in the city limits connecting them with available resources including temporary housing, permanent housing, mental health and substance abuse programs.
Since 2014, the number of homeless in the city has dropped significantly -- by 60%.  And, 39% of the individuals checked into a bed at The Salvation Army by one of our HOT teams have a positive outcome:  they're placed into housing or receive other needed services.  Much more work needs to be done, but we're seeing signs of  improvement.   
Recently, our Homelessness Response Coordinator, Kevin Stiff, sat down with Chuck Englund of WLSS 930 AM for a 30 minute conversation about the state of homelessness in the City.  They talked about many aspects of this complex issue, from the relatively new coordinated response with Sarasota agencies to Housing First to panhandling.
If you'd like to better understand the homeless issue in Sarasota and how it's being addressed, I recommend listening to this engaging interview. Click here to listen (The interview with Kevin Stiff starts at 27:05).  
Thanks to Kevin and the HOT teams, comprised of SPD officers and street social caseworkers, for their ongoing dedication that is making a difference with quality of life.      
Homelessness Response Coordinator Kevin Stiff talking with Chuck Englund on 'Suncoast Speaks'. 

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

The following is a list of shows through December 2018.  To view the entire Van Wezel season, visit    

Reverend Barry & The Funk 
Friday, July 27:  5 p.m. - 9 p.m. 

Rebel Heart 
Friday, August 17:  5 p.m. - 9 p.m. 

Dr. Dave Band 
Friday, September 14:  5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Jerry Seinfeld will be at the Van Wezel on Sept. 20.
Jerry Seinfeld 
Thurs., September 20 - 7 p.m.

Lord of the Dance 
Sun., October 14 - 7 p.m.
Kenny G 
Fri., October 19 - 8 p.m.
The Simon & Garfunkel Story 
Sat., October 27 - 8 p.m.

Doo Wop Spectacular 
Sat., November 10 - 7:30 p.m.

Brian Wilson Presents:  The Christmas Album Live  
Tues., December 11 - 8 p.m.

Celtic Thunder X 
Tues., December 18 - 8 p.m.

Moscow Ballet:  Great Russian Nutcracker  
Fri., December 21 - 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.

The Sweet Caroline Tour 
Mon., December 31 - 9 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

I often say we enjoy some of the most colorful and memorable sunsets in the world right here in our special city -- and that's been especially true the past couple of weeks.  Our resident photographer Norm Schimmel captured a real beauty at the mooring field recently as seen below in 'Sarasota Scene'.
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 CityNews@SarasotaFL.Gov 

Tom Barwin
City Manager