From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
February 15, 2019
Drizzly, chilly conditions couldn't stop these faithful  Baltimore Orioles fans from patiently standing in line at Ed Smith Stadium this week to purchase spring training tickets. The O's are starting to return to their spring home here in Sarasota with pitchers and catchers reporting earlier this week. Soon we'll hear "Play ball!" when the first home game gets underway Saturday, Feb. 23, against the Minnesota Twins.


  • City Commission
    Tues., February 19 - 1:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Development Review Committee
    Wed., February 20 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection Board
    Thurs., February 21- 5 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
Going Solar

Florida is known as the Sunshine State. We're the sixth-sunniest state in the country, with the sun shining about 66 percent of the day.      

When it comes to using solar energy, Florida is only 10th in the country, behind New Jersey and Massachusetts, and just beating out New York.

To put that into context, only two percent of Florida Power & Light's electricity is generated by clean, renewable, abundant solar energy.  

In a state surrounded by water, with nearly 1,200 miles of coastline threatened by sea level rise and increasingly volatile storms, that's just not very good, because carbon-generated energy, even from natural gas, causes sea level rise.       

With the Gulf of Mexico having risen by over seven inches since 1945, and with the pace increasing, the public is beginning to demand more leadership and innovation toward reducing carbon in the atmosphere.
An FPL solar power center 
Just two years ago, the Sarasota City Commission adopted renewable energy goals called Ready for 100. The first goal of Ready for 100 was for all city government electricity usage to be powered by renewable energy by 2030.

I am very pleased to be able to report to you that last week the commission authorized the City to enter into an innovative agreement with FPL to secure 100 percent of our city government electricity needs from solar energy beginning in 2020. If all goes as planned and FPL's new program is approved, within the next year, all our city buildings -- our water plant, wastewater plant, pumps, recreation centers, City Hall -- everything but unmetered street lights will be powered by renewable, abundant solar energy.

Our $3 million annual electricity bill will go up by about $32,000 next year but will rapidly decline, and we will begin accruing savings beginning in year five.     
We have exceeded our first renewable energy goals by 10 years, and we thank FPL for designing this program. Our next goal is to get our entire city on renewable energy, a difficult goal under current state regulations.  If we do not see more innovation by the big utilities and the state, we may see the big utility monopolies face deregulation at the ballot box, in hopes that new innovative, competitive, renewable energy businesses will be born, akin to what occurred in the telecommunications industry, when the big Bell Telephone companies were deregulated. Stay tuned.   

Featured Job of the Week 

  Other great opportunities!

This Week's Items to Know:

Presidents Day - Feb. 18   Next Monday, Feb. 18, is a national holiday -- Presidents Day -- and City administrative offices will be closed.   
Public Works crews will be working on the holiday collecting garbage and yard waste as usual.   
The Parks & Recreation facilities that will be open (Bobby Jones Golf Club, Payne Park Tennis Center, Robert L. Taylor Community Complex) may have abbreviated holiday hours, so please check in advance.    
The Box Office at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.   
A full schedule of holiday hours can be found on the City website.
Also, the City Commission meeting that regularly would be held on Monday the 18th will be deferred the following day on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

St. Armands Parking District - Open for Business   Years in the making and a mutual collaboration between the City, St. Armands property owners and merchants, the St. Armands Parking District officially came online this week when the new St. Armands Garage  opened.
A car pulling into the new St. Armands Garage on opening day. 
Located at the corner of North Adams Drive and Madison Drive next to Fire Station #3, the new garage is a beautiful and welcome addition to the neighborhood and business district, with 484 parking spaces around the block from the Circle. With the parking rate just $.50 per hour, it will be an affordable and convenient place to park while taking in the attractions on the Circle. On opening day, many visitors parked in the garage and expressed how happy they are to have an easily accessible parking destination and will no longer have to spend time circling the Circle in search of an empty space.
At the same time, metered on-street parking went into effect. With options ranging from $.75 to $1.50 per hour, we expect the rates are properly set. The pay-by-phone app, ParkMobile, also will make it even more convenient. I downloaded the app ... have you?  
The revenue generated from the paid parking program will pay for the new garage as well as operations.   
A brief three-minute video below provides a helpful overview of the new parking district, the garage and amenities and the tiered parking rate structure.   
St. Armands Parking District 
Video:  Overview of the St. Armands Parking District 
So far, visitors, employees and merchants are acclimating well to the change. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments:  ParkingInfo@SarasotaFL.Gov or contact the Parking Operations Division directly:  941-954-7057.      

Parks & Rec - Discovery Saturday   Our Parks & Recreation team at Arlington Park has launched an interesting, interactive community program called Discovery Saturday.
Once a month on a Saturday, a parks/environment subject will be featured, and residents will be invited to learn more about that topic along with their neighbors. 
The inaugural Discovery Saturday was held last weekend at Arlington Park with an
Composting was the first topic for Parks & Recreation Department's new Discovery Saturday at Arlington Park. 
outdoor classroom session on composting. Our friends from Sunshine Community Compost explained the concept of composting and how individual residents can significantly cut the amount of garbage going into the landfill simply by diverting food scraps for compost.  Ultimately, the compost becomes rich, fertile soil that can be used around flower beds and gardens.  What an informative and beneficial topic to kick off Discovery Saturday!
The next Discovery Saturday will be March 9, and the topic is very timely and important to our coastal community: red tide. This is sure to be a popular program! Early registration is recommended.   
Registration forms are available at the Arlington Park and Aquatic Complex office, 2650 Waldemere St.  For more information, please call 941-554-2110.
Thanks to our new team at Arlington Park for developing this education program designed for youth and adults alike.
Community Conversation at Bookstore1    Staff members from our Planning Department took part in an informative conversation Wednesday at Bookstore1 in downtown Sarasota.
Planning Director Steve Cover and transportation planners Colleen McGue and Megan Lui spoke with a few dozen interested residents about the many exciting initiatives their department is working on this year, particularly the City's transportation master plan.

Transportation planners Megan Lui and Colleen McGue and Planning Director Steve Cover took part in a "Community Conversation" on Wednesday at Bookstore1.
The plan, which we've dubbed "Sarasota In Motion," will study existing conditions on our road network and identify ways we can improve multimodal transportation and enhance connectivity. The staff shared with attendees how they will go about gathering public feedback on transportation needs in the form of workshops and an online survey, then putting the plans that are developed into action.

This was a lively discussion, and it's good to know our residents are interested and concerned about the future of transportation and mobility in our City. We're lucky to have such a wealth of experience and backgrounds on staff in our relatively new Planning Department leading the charge on this important initiative.

Wednesday's event was part of Bookstore1's continuing speaker series, and I'm looking forward to joining them at 2 p.m. March 5 for my own "Community Conversation," when I'll be sharing my perspective on everything that's going on with our organization and in our special City. The event is free to attend, and you can register and find more information here.

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

To view the full Van Wezel season, visit 
Dancing With The Stars 
Fri., February 15 - 8 p.m.
Sat., February 16 - 8:30 p.m.
Sun., February 17 - 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Finding Neverland 
Tues., February 19 - 7:30 p.m.
Wed., February 20 - 7:30 p.m.
The Beach Boys 
Mon., February 25 - 7:30 p.m.
Sarah McLachlan 
Tues., February 26 - 8 p.m.
Russian National Ballet:  The Sleeping Beauty 
Wed., February 27 - 7:30 p.m.
David Foster 
Thurs., February 28 - 8 p.m.
Celtic Woman 
Sun., March 3 - 3 p.m.
Rain:  A Tribute to the Beatles 
Tuesday, March 5 - 8 p.m.
The Sarasota Ballet 
Fri., March 8 - 7:30 p.m.
Sat., March 9 - 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
The Lion King 
Thurs., March 14 - Sun., March 31
All 23 dates and tickets

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Thurs., April 4 - 7:30 p.m. 
RENT 20th Anniversary Tour 
Tues., April 9 - 7:30 p.m. 
Wed., April 10 - 7:30 p.m. 
Peter Gros
Sun., April 14 - 2 p.m. 
The Music of Cream 
Mon., April 15 - 8 p.m. 
The Second City:  It's Not You. It's Me.
Tues., April 16 - 8 p.m. 
Menopause the Musical
Wed., April 17 - 7:30 p.m. 
Boz Scaggs - Out of The Blues Tour 2018 
Thurs., April 18 - 8 p.m.
Alan Cumming - Legal Immigrant 
Sat., April 20 - 8 p.m.
Rosanne Cash and Band 
Thurs., April 25 - 8 p.m.
The Temptations and The Four Tops 
Fri., April 26 - 8 p.m.

Whoopi Goldberg 
Sat., April 27 - 8 p.m.
Lee Greenwood and Crystal Gayle 
Sun., April 28 - 7 p.m.
The Illusionists 
Tues., April 30 - 7:30 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

Weekly Briefs will be on hiatus until March 1st.

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