From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
September 7, 2018

Where is this lush, green hill?  Payne Park!  Located in the heart of downtown Sarasota, Payne Park  is a crown jewel of the City's 50+ public parks.  We caught up with best buds Tom Parish, 4, left, and Rhett Fledderman, 3, racing down the hill on their bikes on a hot, sunny afternoon earlier this week.  Payne Park is home to a circus-themed playground, skateboard  park , Frisbee golf course, walking and bicycle paths and a lunchtime cafe.


  • Historic Preservation Board
    Tues., September 11 - 3 p.m.

    City Hall  - Commission Chambers

  • Planning Board
    Wed., September 12 - 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers

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

Assistant Head Usher
Commercial Plans Examiner
Computer Support Specialist
Deputy City Auditor & Clerk
Information Technology Manager
Network Analyst
GIS Coordinator
Pension Plans Administrator
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Senior Internal Auditor

     Volunteer/Unpaid Intern    

This Week's Items to Know:

Red Tide Update  Weather conditions remained favorable throughout the week with the affects of red tide continuing to lessen.  Site inspections are confirming no noticeable odors and very few -- if any -- dead fish.  This was the first week recently that NOAA did not issue any beach hazard statements along the west coast of Florida -- a definite improvement -- although, the water still is a dark brown hue. 
It's unclear what impact, if any, Tropical Storm Gordon had on the Karenia brevis organism which causes the harmful algal bloom, but recent northwesterly surface currents have transported the red tide offshore slightly.   
Consistent with local observations, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), reports that high concentrations of red tide were not found in Sarasota this week.  Just to the north, though, in Pinellas County, deceased sea creatures are washing ashore including stingrays, sharks and a Goliath Grouper this week.  Scientists are trying to recover the carcasses so necropsies can be performed to hopefully gain a better understanding of this deadly algal bloom.    

A handful of people visited Lido Beach on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 6th.
While the fish kills are gone the water remains a dark brown color. 
At this this writing, FWC, Mote Marine Laboratory, Florida Department of Health and many other agencies remain vigilant and are continually monitoring and evaluating conditions along the Gulf of Mexico including water and air quality. The most recent reports still show this overwhelming bloom stretching 120 miles from Collier County to Pinellas.   
City staff continues to participate in weekly executive and communications conference calls with these agencies and other regional governments, sharing information including what we're experiencing firsthand on the ground here.  Unfortunately, the experts are not able to predict at this time whether the red tide will move out to sea or linger longer along the coastline.  
With the uncertainty, the City remains under a local State of Emergency in hopes of recouping funds expended on this natural disaster, which scientists believe is worsened as it interacts with higher levels of nutrients close to the shore.          

Van Wezel:  2018-19 Season Sale Starts Sept. 8  The Big Day is nearly upon us!  Tickets for the exciting upcoming season at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, owned and operated by the City, go on sale Saturday, September 8 at 10 a.m.  Note:  Disney's The Lion King goes on sale November 2. 
Executive Director Mary Bensel and her dedicated team hav e b een  working tirelessly to bring the best season yet to the Van Wezel.   From Broadway shows headlined by The Lion King to star-studded variety shows, holiday specials, orchestras and dance, there is sure to be something for most everyone!
The full season can be reviewed online now at   
Individual tickets can be purchased for all shows starting Sept. 8 at 10 a.m. (except The Lion King) via the website, in person at the Box Office or by phone:  941-953-3368 or 800-826-9303.
We look forward to a blockbuster opening day and another successful year at our special performing arts venue on the Bay!  
City Size - Population Estimate     Earlier this week, we received a population update from the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida.
Researchers estimate the current population in the Sarasota city limits is now 55,832.  That's up 1,191 people or approximately 2% over the past year.
To put this into perspective, population estimates over the years have been slowly, incrementally moving upward with a slight downturn during the Great Recession:  
  • 1990:  50,961
  • 2000:  52,715
  • 2010:  51,917
  • 2015:  52,905
Sarasota continues to be a popular location, especially downtown and in the Rosemary District, where it's an easy stroll to the Bayfront, shops, restaurants, and the many cultural arts venues.   
Downtown Sarasota looking toward the barrier islands - (Photo: Eagle 8 WFLA) 
Projections indicate the city could grow by approximately 10,000 people by 2030. 
Our focus into the near future will continue to be transportation.  Our newly installed Planning Department is laser focused on developing a Transportation Master Plan, a first for the City of Sarasota, to sync with state and regional plans.  They'll be considering all viable mobility options from walking to biking to ride sharing as well as mass transit on land and sea, to move residents and visitors around our special city. 
Utility Locator - Recognition   Congratulations to City of Sarasota Utilities employee Alvin Hurskin, who was recently presented with the Locator Excellence Award by Sunshine 811, a statewide nonprofit that helps promote and facilitate excavation safety and prevent damage to underground utilities.
Engineer Tech Alvin Hurskin poses with the Locator Excellence Award along with Brad Martin of Sunshine 811 (left) and Utilities Engineer Tim Hill.

Hurskin, an engineer tech who has been with the City for 18 years, works with contractors who may be digging and helps them locate and accurately mark utility lines. He was nominated for the award by Nathan Anderson of J.W. Harris Contractors Inc., who said in part, "Alvin consistently demonstrates professionalism and pride in his work by not only promptly responding to all of our locate ticket requests, but also by calling or stopping by our job sites to communicate any special circumstances he may encounter regarding a locate ticket we have."

It's great to see our employees recognized for this kind of important customer service, communication, attention to detail and passion for their work. Thank you, Alvin, for being an outstanding representative of our City employee team!

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

The Van Wezel's full 2018-2019 season goes on sale Sat., September 8 at 10 a.m. (The Lion King goes on sale November 2.)   
To view the full Van Wezel season, visit    

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. & 9:30 p.m.

Eddie Izzard 
Thurs., October 11 - 8 p.m.

Lord of the Dance 
Sun., October 14 - 7 p.m.
Kenny G 
Fri., October 19 - 8 p.m.
Bob Dylan & His Band 
Sun., October 21 - 8 p.m.
The Simon & Garfunkel Story 
Sat., October 27 - 8 p.m.
Capitol Steps 
Wed., November 7 - 8 p.m.
Neil Berg's 50 Years of Rock & Roll Part II 
Fri., November 9 - 8 p.m.

Doo Wop Spectacular Vol. 3 
Sat., November 10 - 7:30 p.m.
Stills & Collins 
Fri., November 16 - 8 p.m.
  Black Violin will be at the Van Wezel on Nov. 27.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
Sat., November 17 - 8 p.m. 
Beyond Glory
Mon., November 19 - 7:30 p.m. 
Dave Koz 
Fri., November 23 - 8 p.m.
KC and the Sunshine Band 
Sat., November 24 - 8 p.m. 
Black Violin 
Tues., November 27 - 7:30 p.m.
Jim Brickman:  A Joyful Christmas 
Wed., November 28 - 7:30 p.m. 
Brian Wilson Presents:  The Christmas Album Live  
Tues., December 11 - 7:30 p.m.
Itzhak Perlman: In The Fiddler's House 
Mon., December 17 - 7:30 p.m.

Celtic Thunder X 
Tues., December 18 - 7:30 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

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