From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
December 1, 2017
'Tis the season on St. Armands Circle, where holiday lights illuminate the iconic statues. Not all lights are glowing quite yet though.  The St. Armands Circle Association's "Holiday Night of Lights" will be held tonight (Fri., December 1) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the annual tree lighting and a special appearance from Santa Claus. Downtown Sarasota hosted a tree lighting earlier this week at Selby Five Points Park and Newtown will light  its tree on December 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Fredd "Glossie" Atkins Park.  And, with this being the first weekend in December, that means the annual Downtown Holiday Parade will be taking place.  More details below in Weekly Briefs. 


  • General Employees' Pension Plan Board of Trustees
    Mon., December 4:  8:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commission
    Mon., December 4:  2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Downtown Improvement District
    Tues., December 5:   9 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., December 6:  9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Firefighters' Pension Plan Board of Trustees
    Wed., December 6:  9 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Tree Advisory Committee
    Wed., December 6:  2 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Board of Rules & Appeals
    Wed., December 6:  3 p.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Presentation of Draft Options - 2nd & 4th St. Bikeways (between U.S. 41 and U.S. 301)
    Wed., December 6:  5:30 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • St. Armands BID
    Thurs., December 7:  8:30 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio


City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Accounting & Payroll Systems Supervisor
Chief Transportation Planner
Deputy City Auditor & Clerk
Financial Accountant
Golf Course Attendant
Maintenance Mechanic Solid Waste Collection - Part-time 
Manager Maintenance Service
Parks Service Worker - Part-time
Part-time Parking Garage Attendant
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant (RLTCC)
Refuse Equipment Operator - Temporary Full-Time 
  Senior Pension Accountant
Senior Planner 
Transportation Planner
   Volunteer/Unpaid Intern     

Partnership Policing:  911 Dispatch

SCSO Lt. Brigit Leonard leading a tour of the 911 dispatch center.

Over the past five years, crime in the City of Sarasota has been reduced by nearly  25%.   Under the leadership of Chief Bernadette DiPino, with extensive public involvement, Sarasota has done even better at reducing crime than most of the country.   As crime has dropped, criminologists around the country continue to debate why crime rates have been going down in recent years.
Our theory is that crime has gone down as communications between citizens and the police have gone up.  The widespread use of mobile cell phones allowing citizens to call in crimes or suspicious circumstances as they happen has been a vital new tool to help reduce crime.     
Since 2012, the City of Sarasota Police Department has practiced a policing concept we coined called "Partnership Policing".   Partnership policing is an advanced form of community policing, the foundation of which is to encourage communications between each and every citizen and our local police agencies.   Partnership and community policing is built upon a foundation of mutual trust, communications, and citizen-police responsiveness to each other. 
Also contributing to the effort have been two citizen commissions, both formed in 2011, to help assure the community that our local law enforcement agency is transparent and responsive to each and every neighborhood and citizen in the community.   The Independent Police Advisory Panel (IPAP) meets regularly to review crime statistics, policy practices and policies. The Police Complaint Committee also meets regularly to review citizen complaints related to interactions with the police.   
Crime fighting 101 requires three key elements.   First, citizens calling 911 to report crimes or suspicious circumstances. Second, 911 must process the calls as quickly and effectively as possible.   And third, SPD must respond to dispatched calls as quickly and effectively as possible.
I would like to thank Sheriff Tom Knight for making himself available this week to give our two key criminal justice citizen committees a tour of the relatively new 911 dispatch center located at Cattleman Road and Bahia Vista.   The nearly 2-hour briefing and tour provided many new insights and information to our citizen committees as they strive to continue the vital work of helping to reduce crime in our community through the very best partnerships and crime fighting practices possible.
L to R:  Cpt. Timothy Enos, Tom Barwin, Sheriff Tom Knight, Randolph Coyner (IPAP), Don Baillie (IPAP), Bill Fuller (IPAP Chair), Heather Robison (Administrator, Police Advisory Panels), Jordon Letschert (PCC), Col. Kurt A. Hoffman; Back - Tom Fuerst (PCC), SPD Lt. Demetri Konstantopoulos, Mjr. Jon Goetluck, Lt. Brigit Leonard

The 911 dispatch employs 89 people who work 24/7/365 responding to about 700,000 calls each year for police or EMS assistance. The goal of 911 dispatchers is to dispatch a call within 2 minutes once the location of the incident and critically important information is obtained.     
The 911 center also has a non-emergency line for law enforcement or medical calls which may not be an urgent emergency but do need a response and that number is: 941-316-1201. 
Thanks to Sheriff Knight and the dispatchers for the pride they take in their work, our citizen panels for their volunteer efforts to help us be all we can be in the crime fighting effort, and each and every citizen who shares information with the dispatch and SPD in real time in the fight against crime. 


This Week's Items to Know:

Orange/Ringling Closure   The intersection of Orange Ave. and Ringling Blvd. is now temporarily closed to traffic until May 2018 as it is converted into a roundabout. 
Detour signs are in place and drivers should use State St., Lemon Ave. and Pineapple Ave. 
The intersection of Orange Ave. and Ringling Blvd. is closed to traffic for construction of a one-lane roundabout. 
Included in the project will be necessary infrastructure upgrades, additional lighting for drivers and pedestrians as well as enhanced landscaping.  
We try our best to coordinate significant construction projects like this so they occur during the slower, summer months.  In this case, construction needed to begin before 2018 in order to receive over $800,000 in grant funding from the Federal Highway Administration and FDOT.  Our repeated efforts to extend the deadline were declined. 


This is the latest in a series of roundabouts to be installed in Sarasota, as we focus on being smarter and more strategic with transportation planning with an emphasis on safety and sustainability.   
While this closure will create a temporary inconvenience, once finished, we expect the roundabout will provide enhanced traffic flow through downtown while boosting safety for motorists and pedestrians.
U.S. 41: 9th -15th St. Night Work   Expect Monday-Friday nighttime lane closures along U.S. 41 from 9th Street up to 15th Street as FDOT contractors begin the necessary prep work for construction of the two long planned and much anticipated roundabouts at 10th St. and 14th St.  These temporary evening lane closures will occur Fri., Dec. 1 and also Dec. 4-8. 

It's important to note U.S. 41 and access to the Van Wezel will remain open.  Mary Bensel and her exceptional staff at the Van Wezel have worked diligently to assemble a variety of exciting and captivating performances this year -- and the shows will go on!  For those heading to the Van Wezel, please arrive early.  Due to the nighttime lane closures, expect it will take longer to exit.
The road work also will have a modest impact on boaters.  The 10th Street Boat Ramp will be accessible only via 10th Street.  The U.S. 41 entrance will be temporarily closed.
City staff is working closely with FDOT to stay on top of their work schedule and plans as best we can -- and then share that information with residents.
A fact sheet about the project is available as well as a new FDOT website.    
The Bay - Community Forum 12/6  We're pleased to be part of an upcoming Herald-Tribune Hot Topics community forum, "Bayfront Planning:  What's Next?"
The City's Planning Director, Steve Cover, will be one of five panelists to talk about the future of the Sarasota Bayfront and the exciting possibilities in store for this community jewel.  Two members of the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization and two representatives with the planning firm, Sasaki, recently hired to develop a Bayfront master plan, also will sit on the panel with Herald-Tribune Opinion Editor Tom Tryon serving as moderator.
This will be an excellent opportunity to learn about The Bay project and the ideas to transform a beautiful underutilized area along prime waterfront real estate into a popular cultural arts park in the heart of Sarasota. 
The forum will be held Wed., December 6 at 4 p.m. in the Grand Foyer at the Van Wezel.  The event is free.  To reserve a seat, an RSVP is required by Mon., December 4. Please leave a message at 941-361-4065

Public Art Selection - Mon., Dec. 4   As we integrate roundabouts into mobility plans in a community which embraces the cultural arts, the City Commission established a policy requiring public art within new roundabouts.   
The first piece to be selected with this policy will be located at the new roundabout at Palm Ave. & Cocoanut Ave.  After going through an extensive Call to Artists process which garnered over 100 submissions, the Public Art Committee narrowed the selection down to three proposals.   
The PAC's #1 choice and recommendation to the City Commission is a piece called "Striding Liberty" by Michael Curtis.  
What do you think? 
Before the City Commission considers the item, they would like to know what you think.  
You can join the ongoing discussion on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or send an email to CityNews@SarasotaFL.Gov.  We'd like to hear from you.  
The City Commission will discuss the recommendation during the afternoon session of its next regular meeting on Mon., December 4, starting at 2:30 p.m.   Public input will be welcome. 
We appreciate the PAC's time reviewing the many and varied submissions.  And, we look forward to the roundabout having a new signature public art piece for the community to enjoy.     

Holiday Parade - Sat., Dec. 2  Believe it or not, the Holiday Parade is upon us!  The 22nd annual Downtown Sarasota Holiday Parade will be held Sat., December 2 starting at 7 p.m.
The parade route will begin at Main Street and U.S. 301 and travel down Main Street to Gulfstream Ave.  Some streets in downtown will close as early as 7 a.m. the morning of the parade in order to set up.  We encourage parade goers to arrive downtown early and park conveniently at the State Street Garage or Palm Ave. Garage which are a short stroll from the parade route. 
The Holiday Parade starts at 7 p.m. on Main Street on December 2. 
The parade is a popular Sarasota event that signals the official start of the holiday season with marching bands, floats, and, of course welcoming the jolly 'ol elf himself, Santa Claus, to town. 
We'd be remiss not to mention this will be the first Holiday Parade without "Mr. Downtown", Paul Thorpe, the parade founder and organizer for 20 years.  We know the best way to honor his memory is for the community to descend upon downtown and enjoy the family-friendly holiday festivities and parade tradition. 

Boat Parade - Sat., Dec. 9   Traditionally, the second Saturday of December is reserved for the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights and this year is no exception!  This will be the 32nd year for this festive event that lights up Sarasota Bay like no other time.     
Instead of decking the halls, local boat captains deck the...boat decks.  Entries range from small vessels to yachts and all are bright, colorful and filled the holiday spirit.
The parade route winds through the Bay starting near New Pass and ending at Marina Jack.  So, the best viewing areas are Marina Jack, Bayfront Park and Centennial Park. All public viewing areas are free and open to all.  
A prime viewing area at Marina Jack will be reserved again this year for approximately 60 special needs children, with arrangements made by Suncoast Charities for Children in conjunction with local agencies.  This is one of two community events hosted each year by the Suncoast Charities for Children, with the other being the Grand Prix Boat Races.
We look forward to seeing this festive flotilla on the Bay next weekend, Sat., December 9.  The parade starts at 6 p.m.       
The 32nd Annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights will be held
on Sarasota Bay on Sat., December 9 at 6 p.m.


Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

The following is a list of shows through Dec. 2017.  To view the entire Van Wezel season visit 
Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story 
Fri., December 1 - 8 p.m.
Tues., December 5 - 8 p.m.
An Irish Tenors Christmas 
Sat., December 2 - 8 p.m.
  Leann Rimes will be at the Van Wezel Dec. 3.

Leann Rimes - Today is Christmas Tour 
Sun., December 3 - 7 p.m.
Sarasota Orchestra 
Fri., December 8 - 8 p.m.
Sat., December 9 - 8 p.m.
Sun., December 10 - 2:30 p.m.
Choral Artists of Sarasota 
Sun., December 10 - 7:30 p.m.
98 Degrees Christmas
Mon., December 11 - 8 p.m.

Sarasota Ballet

Fri., December 15 - 7:30 p.m.
Sat., December 16 - 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
  Catch 'Cirque Dreams Holidaze' on Dec. 21.


A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage
Sun., December 17 - 2:30 p.m.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Thurs., December 21 - 7 p.m.

A Christmas Carol
Fri., December 22 - 7 p.m.

Moscow Ballet Great Russian Nutcracker
Fri., Dec. 29 - 3 p.m. & 7 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