From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
June 16, 2017
This is the remarkable view from the rooftop of the new Westin hotel overlooking the Bayfront.  The upscale hotel is scheduled to open for guests in August. Several City staff members toured the facility last week and came away impressed with the meeting spaces and modern decor of the guest rooms. More details below in Weekly Briefs.


  • General Employees' Pension Plan Board of Trustees
    Mon., June 19 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commission
    Mon., June 19 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers

  • Development Review Cmte Special Meeting
    Tues., June 20 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers

  • City Commission Budget Workshop
    Tues., June 20 - 5 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Development Review Committee
    Tues., June 20 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • City Commission Budget Workshop
    Wed., June 21- 5 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Firefighters' Pension Plan Board of Trustees
    Wed., June 21 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commission Workshop
    Thurs., June 22 - 5 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers

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

Crew Leader I Landscape Operations
Deputy City Auditor and Clerk
Golf Course Attendant (Part Time)
Landscape Maintenance Tech I (Part Time)
Landscape Maintenance Tech II
Lifeguard I
Maintenance Mechanic (Part Time)
Maintenance Mechanic II
Pension Plans Administrator
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant (Children's Fountain)
Rec Attendant (RLTCC)
Supervisor - Landscape Maintenance

This Week's Items to Know:

Westin Hotel -  Currently, the finishing touches are being put on the interior of the new Westin hotel, located at the corner of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Ave.  When it opens to guests on August 1st, an additional 255 rooms will be added to the inventory in Sarasota, which just a few years ago was considered to be in short supply with approximately 1,000 rooms.

With the recently opened Aloft on Ringling Blvd., and five hotels under construction including the Embassy Suites on U.S. 41, and Hotel Sarasota adjacent to the Palm Ave. Garage, the total inventory is expected to double, offering ample space for visitors whether they're in our special city for business or pleasure or a little of both.

During our tour of the Westin, we saw firsthand the captivating views of Sarasota Bay that will be sure to attract many visitors to the rooftop bar, which also will be open to the general public.  Overlooking the vacant
Studying the vacant Quay site and discussing
opportunities for connectivity. 
Quay site, which is planned for a significant mixed use development, we discussed opportunities for pedestrian connectivity on the west side of U.S. 41 all the way to the 42-acre Van Wezel site.  We need to ensure people can move along the Bayfront in a safe manner without always having to get in a car -- and now is the time to finalize those plans before additional construction west of U.S. 41 gets underway.

With a ground floor restaurant and 11 meeting spaces (the largest 6,000 sq. ft.), the Westin will undoubtedly translate into more foot traffic in the vicinity. 

A few weeks after the Westin opens, The Vue, the residential component of the development with 120 condominiums, also is expected to be finished.

Room with a view!  8th floor guest room at the Westin. 
In the meantime, City staff is closely monitoring FDOT's planned improvements to alleviate traffic backups on the Ringling Bridge during peak drive times in season.  Right now, a right turn only slip lane at U.S 41 & Fruitville Rd. is under construction.  FDOT expects it will process a higher number of vehicles more efficiently through that area, which will be welcomed.

Plans for roundabouts at U.S. 41 & Fruitville and Gulfstream Ave. are moving forward with construction expected to begin in 2019. Meanwhile, work on the approved roundabouts at 10th St. and 14th St. will start as soon as next winter.  Wherever possible, extra wide sidewalks to promote pedestrian activity will be installed.

As Sarasota continues to be a desirable location for residents and visitors, it's important for us to continue to explore all viable options for mobility and enhanced pedestrian connectivity between neighborhoods, parks, businesses and cultural districts.

Water & Sewer Revenue Bonds:  AA Rating   Good news -- Fitch Ratings affirmed the City's rating for three water and sewer revenue bond series at AA.  This is a high quality rating and indicates a low City Logo risk of default with a stable financial outlook for the City.

A bond rating can be one of the most important factors in determining interest costs.  So, a strong AA rating enables the City to borrow money at lower interest rates and potentially save millions of dollars in borrowing costs.

As with most local governments, the City of Sarasota uses bonds to fund significant capital projects in the community. Recently, those have included water and sewer line replacements, parking garages, and the SPD Headquarters.

Bottom line:  This AA rating reaffirms City staff's professional handling and safeguarding of public finances.  Congratulations to the Finance and Utilities Departments!   

Hurricane Grant - For Low Income Residents   The City's Office of Housing & Community Development was awarded a $194,000 Hurricane Loss Mitigation Grant from the State of Florida to help low to moderate income homeowners retrofit their homes to reduce losses and the costs of rebuilding.  Grants up to $20,000 will be provided to help strengthen homes with hurricane resistant doors, roofs and windows. We anticipate that as many as 10 residents will receive assistance through this grant.

Thank you to OHCD Director, Don Hadsell, and his staff for securing this grant.  Many times in dangerous weather situations, some of the most vulnerable are low income homeowners who haven't had the means to upgrade and harden their homes.

Applications will be available through the City soon.  Again, based on the grant amount, we estimate up to 10 residents will receive assistance. In the meantime, more information is available via the OHCD:  941-951-3640 or Adam.Naff@SarasotaFL.Gov  

Finance Dept.: 27 Years of Budget Awards   As we prepare to present the proposed Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget to the City Commission next week, it's with great pride we report the Finance Department was recently recognized for the 27th straight year with a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award by the Government Finance Officers Association.

It's an honor to be recognized by a peer group for one's professionalism and expertise -- but, for 27 consecutive years?  That's extraordinary! 
Throughout the entire country, just 168 government agencies have earned that distinction -- and 16 are located in Florida.

Several staff members have been part of the Finance team for most of those 27 years, and we greatly appreciate their institutional knowledge and professional acumen. Congratulations to the entire team on this well deserved award which highlights the City's finances are in a good state  --  outstanding honor!       

Bobby Jones Golf Club - Jr. City Tournament   Even with the soggy weather last weekend, all 36 holes of the 19th Annual Junior City Tournament were played at Bobby Jones Golf Club -- bravo!  Congratulations to overall girls champion Aaron Whitley and overall boys champ Louis Fiumara!

Junior City Tournament: overall girls champion Aaron Whitley
and overall boys champion Louis Fiumara
Three dozen duffers competed in age groups, with some as young as 10 hitting the links. It's great to see so many youngsters spending the start of summer vacation enjoying the outdoors, while exercising and competing.  Who knows....a few years down the road we could see them on the professional tour! 

We appreciate the players, families and City staff who endured Mother Nature's unpredictability and saw the tournament through.  Congratulations, everyone!    
Bobby Jones Golf Club - Jr. Golf Camps  If the kids or grandkids enjoy being outside and you're looking for a different kind of mini camp for them this summer, consider a Junior Golf Camp at Bobby Jones!

Once again our two in-house PGA professionals will provide personal
Bobby Jones PGA professional Daniel Bailey
during a Junior Golf Camp last year.

instruction to small groups (12 or less).  Whatever their experience level, our instructors, Christian Martin and Daniel Bailey, will help them with driving, chipping and putting skills in a fun, stress-free environment.

The camps are designed for children ages 8-18 and run 3 days for 3 hours (9 a.m. - noon) and include a kid-friendly lunch at the end of each day.  Registration is $100 per child per camp.  More information is available at

Recreation is an important part of a community.  And, we appreciate our staff at Bobby Jones investing in our youth and cultivating an interest in a recreational activity they can enjoy their entire lives.   

Friday Fest: FREE Concert Series  Friday Fest, our free outdoor summer concert series gets underway tonight at the Van Wezel with the blues band Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones.  The fun kicks off at 5 p.m. rain or shine!

Once a month through September, the Van Wezel will host Friday Fest on Sarasota Bay.  The price is right (free!)....and the sunset view magnificent.

Thanks to Van Wezel Executive Director Mary Bensel and her dedicated staff for going the extra mile to make this fun community event happen -- and to our other City staff members who volunteer their time pouring beer, with the team receiving the most tips claiming  bragging rights until the next Friday Fest. (All tips go to the Van Wezel and Friday Fest expenses.)

Friday Fest '17: 
  • June 16: Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones
  • July 21: Kettle of Fish
  • August 25: Jah Movement
  • September 15: Reverand Barry & Funktastic Soul



Automotive Tech Week   It's National Automotive Tech Week and we're pleased to recognize a special group of hard working unsung heroes on City staff:  our equipment techs! They maintain and repair almost anything with a motor, so they're automotive techs plus.

A crew of 5 techs care for 550 pieces of equipment -- everything from SPD patrol cars to Utility tanker trucks to landscape trimmers and generators.  With a combined 100 years of experience and knowledge, they're valuable additions to our staff, helping to cut costs by performing work in-house.

It's a great responsibility to care for the City's equipment and ensure it's safe for those operating it so they can be productive with their job duties.

We salute our equipment techs, especially as the days heat up. Thanks for all you do every day!

Front Row: Nick Vissagio, Mike Keim (Maintenance Manager), Roilan Vidal; Back Row:  Deontae James, Robert Veverka, Juan Velazquez


Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

The following is a list of shows through Nov. 2017.  To view the entire Van Wezel season visit 
Friday Fest:  Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones
Fri., June 16 - 5 p.m.
FREE Concert

Diana Ross
Fri., June 23 - 8 p.m.
Diana Ross will
perform June 23. 


Friday Fest: Kettle of Fish
Fri., July 21 - 5 p.m.
FREE Concert

Friday Fest:  Jah Movement Reggae Band
Fri., August 25 - 5 p.m.
FREE Concert

Friday Fest:  Reverend Barry & the Funktastic Soul
Fri., September 15 - 5 p.m.
FREE Concert

Doo Wop Spectacular 
Sat., November 4 - 7:30 p.m.
Celtic Thunder will be at the Van Wezel Nov. 15.


Celtic Thunder
Wed., November 15 - 7:30 p.m.

Straight No Chaser
Thurs., November 16 - 8 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

Tom Barwin
City Manager