From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
September 13, 2019

Main Street came to a halt earlier this week as a portion of of the road was closed to vehicular traffic to accommodate work being done to FirstSarasota, the downtown Baptist church. Spectators gathered to look on as crews utilizing a large crane removed the church's steeple, which suffered damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017. Best of luck to FirstSarasota as they work to replace this treasured piece of our downtown skyline and make their property more storm ready!

  • General Employees' Pension Plan Board of Trustees
    Monday, Sept. 16 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commission
    Monday, Sept. 16 - 1:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Development Review Committee
    Wednesday, Sept. 18 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Planning Board
    Wednesday, Sept. 18 - 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers

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This Week's Items to Know:

Recycling - By the Numbers   It has been a little over five months since the City debuted its new 65-gallon recycling carts and switched to a single-stream recycling program for residents, and the results continue to be encouraging.
In August, our Solid Waste division collected 337.4 tons of recycling material from City residential customers, compared to 210.1 tons in August of 2018 - a 60 percent increase! As we expected, 
switching to the larger, easier-to-use carts and eliminating the need to separate paper and plastic materials into different bins has eliminated barriers that kept some individuals from recycling.
Our staff has done extensive outreach to the community, educating them about what can and can't be recycled.  We'll be distributing this information to our seasonal residents, who will soon be returning to Sarasota and may have missed the launch of the single-stream program, while also letting them know about the changes and their new carts.
As new people move to Sarasota from places all over the country and around the world, where recycling practices may greatly differ, our Solid Waste team is constantly working to educate them about the City's regulations and proper recycling techniques. And those efforts are paying off! 

Not only are we collecting more recyclables, but the company that runs the City's recycling transfer facility has not reported any issues with recycling contamination - in fact, they have not yet had to reject a single load from our collection trucks due to contamination from too much non-recyclable material. That means our residents are helping everyone out by cutting down on "wishcycling" - hoping something is recyclable, when it really isn't. Mixing these items in with recyclables can slow down the process, drive up costs and even endanger the workers who sort the materials.

For more info about what can and can't be recycled, just take a look at the helpful graphic included on the yellow top lid of your recycling cart, or visit There you'll find a helpful online tool where you can simply type in an item and find out how to properly dispose of it. 
We appreciate everyone doing their part to help make Sarasota an even greener, healthier and more sustainable community!     
Video - The Recycling Partnership   Speaking of recycling, we wanted to share this terrific video highlighting the City's new program: 
Sarasota's Single-Stream Recycling Program 
  Sarasota's single-stream recycling program - video courtesy: The Recycling Partnership 
The video comes courtesy of nonprofit The Recycling Partnership, which awarded the City a Coastal Communities and Waterways Grant of more than $100,000 that went toward the cost of our new recycling carts as well as education and awareness opportunities such as a recent community cleanup event.
We're also honored to be featured on The Recycling Partnership's website for our staff's efforts in transitioning to single-stream recycling. Their article mentions Sarasota's proximity to the water and the crucial role recycling can play in protecting our environment. 
Parks & Recreation - New Website   The Parks & Recreation District unveiled a new website this week, which is one-stop shopping for all things recreation! offers an overview of each of our 50+ parks with a photo and available amenities such as picnic tables, restrooms, boat ramp, kayaking and more. A detailed calendar is also available outlining all recreational programming, including events and classes with online registration.  The park and program guides can be viewed online or downloaded. 
The website also can be accessed from the City's main website, www.SarasotaFL.Gov
Kudos to Parks & Rec Director Jerry Fogle and his team, led by Marketing Coordinator Monique Budelman, for consolidating a tremendous amount of information into this one helpful location -- and presenting it with a beautiful new Parks & Recreation District logo.  Well done!      
MLK Park - Dedication Ceremony   We will host a special celebration next week to mark the completion of renovations to the pavilion at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park.

Parks and Rec staff were busy installing refurbished signage at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park this week.
The City applied for and received federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to pay for the work, which included making the bathrooms safer and ADA compliant, as well as repairs to the pavilion's roof.
Our Parks and Recreation District team also went above and beyond in adding new and improved landscaping and signage to the park. The end result is a safer, more attractive and welcoming environment at this community gathering spot. We appreciate the hard work of our Parks and Rec team and the diligent efforts of the Office of Housing & Community Development in securing the necessary funds for these improvements, and we can't wait to show them off. 
The dedication ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at the park, 2523 Cocoanut Ave. We hope to see you there!     
Retirement - Tim Litchet   Earlier this week, it was announced that Tim Litchet, director of our Development Services Department, will be retiring at the end of the year following 32 years of service with the City of Sarasota.
Development Services Director Tim Litchet started working in zoning
with the City 32 years ago.
Tim has had a front-row seat for the tremendous amount of growth and change our city has seen over the decades. His department is responsible for crucial services such as building, zoning and code compliance, and he and his staff have been busier than ever.
As I shared with our commissioners earlier this week, in my seven years working with him, Tim has been a bedrock of institutional knowledge, exhibiting perhaps one of the strongest work ethics I have witnessed as he worked to balance the many pressures his divisions faced during perhaps the greatest growth period in Sarasota's history.  Within his operational responsibilities, Tim has focused on team building and over the years his integrity and sense of humor have been greatly appreciated by his colleagues.  
We will value Tim's remaining time with the City as we begin to prepare a plan for leadership of the department going forward. And we wish him all the best in his desire to enjoy some well-earned relaxation while also finding time to volunteer and give back to our community. Thank you and good luck!
Communications - National Presentation   For the fourth time in five years, our Senior Communications Manager, Jan Thornburg, was invited to speak at a national conference about best practices for government communicators.   
During the recent 3CMA (City, County, Communications & Marketing
Senior Communications Manager Jan Thornburg speaking at the 3CMA annual conference.  
Association) annual conference in Denver, Jan spoke about the dissemination of inaccurate information and how to address it.  Given the state of our times and the ability for anyone to post about anything on social media, it was a well attended session with an engaged audience of 100-125 government communicators from around the country. 
Congratulations, Jan, for being recognized by your peers as a subject matter expert and providing insight into this very timely and important topic. 
By the way, Jan developed an affinity for local government and public process during her college years while working at a government access television station in Michigan, where it was commonplace for Planning Board meetings to adjourn well past midnight.  After a 20-year career as a TV reporter/anchor, she returned to local government and began building the City of Sarasota's reputation for strong media relations and a robust social media presence.        

Van Wezel:  Subscriptions on Sale Now! 

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

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

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