From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
February 10, 2017

Photo of the Week
Within weeks, expect to see a fleet of electric vehicles like this moving people around downtown and the Rosemary District at no cost to riders.  The City Commission approved a contract for a two year pilot program with The GOTCHA Group (Green Operated Transit Carrying Humanity Around) which has similar successful initiatives throughout the country.  One of their vehicles was on display at City Hall for the public to see, including yours truly.  I had a chance to kick the tires (so to speak) and inspect the interior (roomy and comfortable) and discuss some of the fine points of the program with City staff and the GOTCHA Group vice president. Click here for a close up video view. Kudos to Downtown Improvement District Operations Manager John Moran who did much of the heavy lifting researching options for a cost effective, route flexible, sustainable people mover -- and making arrangements for a vehicle to be on display.  Congratulations to all involved!  Look for more information in the coming weeks.       

  • City Commission Workshop
    Mon., February 13 - 5 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • St. Armands BID
    Tues., February 14 - 8:30 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Historic Preservation
    Tues., February 14 - 3 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Development Review Cmte
    Wed., February 15 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 112
  • Employee Retirement Account Cmte
    Thurs., February 16 - 10 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
Black History Month
Few existing neighborhoods in Florida have endured for 100+ years.  One of the exceptions is the Newtown neighborhood in North Sarasota.  Wanting to preserve the vast history of this predominantly African American and segregated community, in 2015 the City Commission approved the Newtown Conservation Historic District Task Force and funding for a first-ever extensive and detailed history report.
The report, 'Newtown Alive', is comprehensive, taking readers on a journey from the area north of downtown, known as Overtown aka "Black Bottom," to the development of Newtown in 1914 through Newtown's centennial in 2014. Vivid, personal accounts from long-time residents are weaved into the report, including razor sharp memories from Mayor Willie Shaw, who recalls being raised in "Black Bottom" the swampy area in segregated Overtown.  Over 350 pages in length, the report preserves the important history of Newtown from the lives of early settlers, education and schools, segregation and integration, churches, military service, and athletics.  There's so much to remember and cherish about Newtown!
This monumental undertaking was guided by a 6-member task force and consultant Vickie Oldham with oversight from City Senior Planner Dr. Cliff Smith.  During a year of research, many resources were collected and studied to assemble a full picture of Newtown's history including oral histories, letters, diaries, videos, census records, maps, landmarks and city directories.
This fascinating report is available online and we encourage Sarasotans and history buffs alike to check it out: 

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

Building Inspector (Single License)
Electrical Maintenance Mechanic
Golf Course Attendant (Part Time)
Inventory Technician (SPD Part Time)
Landscape Maintenance Tech I
Maintenance Mechanic II - RLT
Manager, Accounting & Payroll Systems
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Refuse Equipment Operator SA
System Integrator  
Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator C


This Week's Items to Know:
LS 87 Update - Microtunneling Success!   Earlier this week, the microtunnel boring machine being used on the Lift Station 87 project successfully cleared the Hudson Bayou and the Osprey Bridge abutment.  This is a significant achievement and welcome news for
Inside the control room at the construction site where the microtunnel boring machine is being guided.

this project! Congratulations to the City's engineer of record, McKim & Creed, contractor Vadnais Trenchless Services, microtunneling expert Staheli Trenchless, and our Utilities staff -- all of whom have been on-site guiding the effort. 

The previous engineer of record, AECOM, failed to microtunnel under the bayou because of what has been documented to be a severely flawed design plan and inadequate geo-technical research.  We're still in litigation over the matter.

The microtunnel machine is boring approximately 20 feet a day, which is right on schedule.  It should reach the receiving shaft near Osprey Ave. and Mound within the next few weeks. Then, the machine will be placed in a shaft on the Lift Station 87 site and guided back to the shaft at Osprey and Mound.

Once the microtunneling is finished, a 36-inch wastewater main will be installed and the area will be restored.  We anticipate that work should be completed this summer and the Osprey Bridge and road will re-open.

Centennial Park - Boat Basin Area Improvements   The Public Works Department soon will be making some much needed improvements near the boat ramp at Centennial Park. 

Please Note:
  The boat ramp will remain open throughout the duration of the work except for two days and nights when the area will be closed to resurface the parking lot.

On Monday, February 27 crews will begin removing and replacing the
The dock surfaces will be replaced starting Feb. 27. 
decking of the docks.  The work is planned so that two boat ramps will always be open and available to the public.

The current decking is approximately 25 years old and is in disrepair.  It will be replaced with pressure treated composite lumber, the same material that was used recently to replace the 6th Street canal bridge. 

We expect the project to be finished by early to mid-May.  Toward the conclusion, the entire parking lot -- including the boat ramps -- will be temporarily closed for two days and two nights when the area is resurfaced.  We've been in close contact with the Coast Guard Auxiliary that is nearby and area boaters about the project and we will make sure the public is notified before the resurfacing begins.

Dredging - Over the years, the boat basin has filled in significantly with silt and needs to be cleaned out for the health of Sarasota Bay, and to maintain marine navigation.

The dredging project will start in early March, so it will be going on simultaneously with the decking replacement.  Both project managers
Over the years, the boat basin has filled in with silt. 
are in close coordination to ensure these projects do not interfere with each other -- and to keep public impact to a minimum.  The boat ramps will remain open during the dredging and crews will work around boaters.  We understand this is a popular boat ramp and want to keep it open to the public while these improvements are underway.

As part of the dredging project, a large storm water runoff nutrient separating baffle box will be installed in the storm water system at Florida Ave. and 10th Street.  With this in place, it's expected the amount of silt, pollutants and debris accumulating at the boat basin and in Sarasota Bay will be dramatically reduced, helping to make the Bay healthier for people, sea grasses and our marine friends.

The dredging will continue through summer and is expected to wrap up in August.
Bottom line:  Major improvements are coming to the Centennial Park boat basin area and City staff will do their best to keep disruptions to a minimum.

ThisSpaceshipEarth.Org - "Crew Friendly" City   Sarasota is the national headquarters for a new organization focused on environmental preservation -- specifically transfering a person's environmental concerns and interest in sustainability into actual action. 

Called " ThisSpaceshipEarth.Org", I've had the pleasure of getting to know two of the principals over the past several months:  David Houle, a futurist in residence at Ringling College, and Tim Rumage, head of environmental studies at Ringling College.  These realistic and passionate leaders are extraordinarily knowledgeable about the real challenges we face with documented climate change and what we can do in our every day lives to reduce our carbon footprint, clean our air and waterways, and make a difference.

The concept behind the group's name is that there's just one life sustaining, humanity nurturing Mother Earth and we're all 'crew members' on our collective spaceship earth planet.  Essentially, we all need to do our part to preserve the planet for future generations.

Earlier this week, issued a news release announcing Sarasota is its very first 'Crew Friendly City' -- deeming us a role model for how cities around the country and world should approach sustainability.

We're proud of this designation which comes as a result of our City Commission's renewed commitment to sustainability.  Over the years, Sarasota quietly has been gaining a reputation for environmental preservation by investing million of dollars to clean Sarasota Bay, exploring solar installations and energy efficiencies, adding electric vehicle charging stations, conducting greenhouse gas inventories, and undertaking a climate change vulnerability assessment.

We appreciate and David and Tim's energy and enthusiasm with this compelling issue. We look forward to collaborating with them to help educate our community for the betterment of future generations. recently conducted a fascinating interactive exercise at Siesta Beach showing participants what sea level rise potentially could mean for the area.  Check out an eye opening video from that event below. exercise showing potential sea level rise. 

Planning Director - Meet the Candidates: Feb. 15  During the Great Recession, as interest in development in the city limits slowed, the Planning Department was consolidated with the Neighborhood & Development Services Department.  Those efficiencies worked well, as intended, to move the city through those challenging times.

Now, as you know, we are facing unprecedented growth and interest Logo in development, connectivity and community cohesion in our physical (built) realm. We're working diligently to strike a balance and move forward with smart community strengthening growth strategies.

The City Commission approved reinstating a Planning Director position and we're in the process of considering candidates following a national search.  This position will be geared toward long range sustainable growth and planning, including weaving transit and affordable housing into the fabric of our community wherever possible.

We're inviting you to meet the four finalists for the position:

* Joseph Barris - Freehold, New Jersey
* Steven Cover - Arlington, Virginia
* Leslie Creane - Hamden, Connecticut
* Susan Swift - Rockville, Maryland

You'll have an opportunity to meet them in person during an open house at Robert L. Taylor Community Complex on Wednesday, February 15 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.      
Hazardous Waste Collection - Feb. 11   If you have paint, pool chemicals, cleaners, motor oil etc. that you want to dispose of but don't know exactly what to do with it  -- we have the answer!

The City, in conjunction with Sarasota County, will host a household hazardous waste collection event Saturday, Feb. 11 from 8 a.m. to noon in the parking lots at Payne Park.  This is a great opportunity to unload unwanted items in a safe eco-friendly manner.     

For a comprehensive list of items that will be accepted click here.  

We appreciate the chance to partner with the County to ensure these household items are disposed of properly and we continue to safeguard our precious environment.

Upcoming Events 
  Household Hazardous Waste
Collection Event
Payne Park - Parking Lots
Sat., February 11
8 a.m. - Noon 

Vintage & Collectibles Fair 
Municipal Auditorium
Sat., February 11:  10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sun., February 12:  10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Downtown Festival of the Arts 
Main Street
Sat., Feb. 11 & Sun., Feb. 12
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Planning Director: 
Meet the Candidates Open House
Robert L. Taylor Community Complex
Wed., February 15
5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.

RSVP Deadline:  SPD Use of Force Education Day
RSVP by Friday, Februay 17
Call Colleen Woods:  941-363-5807

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

The following is the current show schedule through February 2017.  For more information visit    

Steve Martin and Martin Short
Fri., February 10 - 8 p.m.

Dave Chappelle
Sat., February 11 - 7 p.m. & 10 p.m.
Pippin will be at the Van Wezel Feb. 17 & 18.


Ringling Town Hall - Geena Davis
Mon., February 13 - 10:30 a.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Neil Berg's 108 Years of Broadway
Tues., February 14 - 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

Twyla Tharp
Wed., February 15 - 8 p.m.

Fri., February 17 - 8 p.m.
Sat., February 18 - 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

The Summit: The Manhattan Transfer Meets Take 6
Sun., February 19 - 7 p.m.

Ringling Town Hall - Jared Cohen
Mon., February 20 - 10:30 a.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Alvin Ailey will be at the Van Wezel Feb. 21.


Alvin Ailey
Tues., February 21 - 8 p.m.

Lang Lang
Thurs., February 23 - 8 p.m.

Sarasota Orchestra - Masterworks: Estonian Voices
Fri., February 24 - 8 p.m.
Sat., February 25 - 8 p.m.
Sun., February 26 - 2:30 p.m.
Sarasota Orchestra

Jackie Evancho
Mon., February 27 - 8 p.m.

Swan Lake - The Russian National Ballet Theatre
Tues., February 28 - 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

Reminder:  The SPD Use of Force Education Day is coming up!  RSVPs are needed by Friday, February 17.  Please contact Colleen Woods:  941-363-5807. The event will be held on March 4.  More details here

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Tom Barwin
City Manager