From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
March 17, 2017
Photo of the Week
The mercury dropped a bit this week bringing cooler temperatures that are fairly unusual for Sarasota this time of year.  For those visiting from regions experiencing snowy, gray skies, like this trio from New York, the crisp blue skies over Sarasota Bay and our idea of "cooler temperatures" are a welcome respite.         

  • General Employees' Pension Plan
    Mon., March 20 - Noon
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • City Commission
    Mon., March 20 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • St. Armands BID
    Tues., March 21 - 10 a.m.
    City Hall - Room 109
  • Firefighters Pension Plan Bd of Trustees
    Wed., March 22 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Police Complaint Committee
    Wed., March 22 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.  

Electrical Maintenance Mechanic
Golf Course Attendant (Part Time)
Landscape Maintenance Tech I
Maintenance Mechanic II
Manager, Accounting & Payroll Systems
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
Supervisor - Landscape Maintenance
System Integrator  
Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Apprentice


This Week's Items to Know:
New Planning Director - Steve Cover  Congratulations to Steve Cover, the City's new Planning Director!  Steve was appointed after a an extensive hiring process including a nationwide search, panel interviews, and an open house for community input.  Feedback from these varied participants was taken into consideration before making the appointment.

Steve's 30+ years as a professional planner with a focus on
Steve Cover will begin his new role as
Planning Director on April 12. 
innovative strategies for walkability, code development, and housing will serve Sarasota well.  Through thoughtful long range planning, his work has resulted in a positive impact on the quality of life in attractive communities like Madison, Wisconsin and Arlington, Virginia.

We look forward to Steve bringing his progressive approach to transportation and housing issues to Sarasota, and being a key figure in shaping our future quality of life.

Steve's first day is April 12.  Let's give him a big Sarasota welcome! 

St. Armands Parking Garage - Computer Model  During a recent community outreach meeting, a computer model showing the initial design of the St. Armands Parking Garage was unveiled to residents and stakeholders.  The response was positive and encouraging!

The computer imagery is very helpful, providing an animated fly through of the location, scale, and appearance of the garage. The proposed design blends well with the surrounding environment. Toward the end of the video, there's a unique proposed feature:  an atrium within the parking structure that will fill the area with natural sunlight.  Check out the video:

Computer model:  St. Armands Parking Garage 

Two more community input sessions will be held over the next several months before the proposed design goes to the City Commission for consideration.  We anticipate that occurring in the Fall.  Our goal is to have the garage completed by December 2018.

This is a significant and much needed project that will add to our public parking inventory and reduce the amount of traffic driving around St. Armands Circle seeking parking.  More info about the garage can be found at

Thanks to Parking General Manager Mark Lyons for shepherding this project and the City's design consultant, Kimley-Horn, for the realistic computer model that gives us a good vision for the future.   
LS 87 Update - Microtunneling Success!    We are excited to announce the first microtunnel, under the Hudson Bayou parallel to Osprey Avenue, was a success!  Tuesday night, the microtunneling machine arrived at the receiving shaft near Mound Street.  We cannot emphasize the significance of completing this key phase of the project.

The photo below shows the head of the boring machine as it emerged through the tunnel into the receiving shaft. As you can see, the engineering plans and execution had to be precise.  The margin for error was minimal.

The microtunnel boring machine emerging into the
receiving shaft at Osprey and Mound.

Congratulations to Engineer of Record McKim & Creed, on-site microtunneling experts Vadnais Trenchless, Utilities Director Mitt Tidwell, Utilities Engineer Manager Mike Crumpton and Project Manager Tony Centurione for their unwavering commitment to making this critical utility project a success.

Next, a 36-inch wastewater main will be placed inside the steel casing that was installed during the microtunneling process.  In the meantime, crews are breaking down the boring machine.  The second microtunnel - from the the lift station site in Luke Wood Park to the receiving shaft at Osprey and Mound -- will begin next month.

National League of Cities - D.C. Visit   This week, Mayor Willie Shaw and I had the opportunity to attend the "Congressional City Conference" hosted by the National League of Cities in Washington,
Mayor Shaw and I with Rep. Buchanan. 
D.C.  It's a chance for local leaders around the country to unite and advocate for their top priorities.  With a new President and Congress in place, it's an especially important time for city leaders to have an audience with decision makers in our nation's capital.

Several significant highlights: 

(1) Sen. Bill Nelson - Mayor Shaw and I sat with Senator Bill Nelson and had a beneficial conversation sharing updates on issues at the local and federal levels.  We expressed the urgent need for federal funding for the long term U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to stabilize and protect Lido Beach. While President Trump's preliminary budget was unveiled this week, it's too early to know the possible impact on this important project that would safeguard our infrastructure.

(2) Rep. Vern Buchanan - We also spoke with Congressman Vern Buchanan.  We shared local and federal information and noted our concerns about possible federal budget cuts that could impact environmental projects and CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) initiatives. 

(3) William Russell -  We had a chance to catch up with our friend and colleague, William Russell, the Sarasota Housing Authority President and CEO, who is on temporary leave
With William Russell and Mayor Shaw at the
HUD office in Washington, D.C.

while he assists the new HUD Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, with the housing transition team.

Over the years, the Sarasota community has benefited from William's passion for safe, affordable housing, plus his extensive knowledge of federal housing rules and programs.  Originally, he moved to Sarasota with the challenging assignment to reorganize the SHA and pull it out of federal government receivership.  Not only did he succeed, he transformed it into a model program.  For those who know and work with William, it comes as no surprise, he would be tapped to help with the transition.  We wish him all the best. 

While we are unsure how the proposed federal budget cuts may affect City programs, including community housing initiatives, it's good to have these strong ties to Sarasota and we'll continue to keep the lines of communication open.      

Election Runoff - May 9   The Sarasota community is now entering the second phase of the City Commission election cycle following the election results Tuesday night.

Three candidates advanced to the runoff election on May 9:

* Jen Ahearn-Koch
* Hagen Brody
* Martin Hyde

The top two vote getters on May 9 will be sworn into office as At-Large City Commissioners a few days later on Friday, May 12.

We appreciate all the candidates who made personal sacrifices to run for office and their desire to help shape Sarasota's future.    

Upcoming Events 
Gem, Jewelry & Bead Show 
Municipal Auditorium
Fri., March 17 - Sun., March 19  
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

St. Patrick's Day: Block Party 
Ringling Boulevard
Fri., March 17
2 p.m. - Midnight

St. Patrick's Day: Block Party 
Lemon Avenue
Fri., March 17
7 p.m. - 1 a.m.

UN Women Happiness Walk 
Payne Park
Sat., March 18
8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Congressman Vern Buchanan - Town Hall 
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Sat., March 18
11 a.m.

First Watch Half Marathon
Sun., March 19
Start:  6:45 a.m. - Van Wezel
Finish:  11 a.m. - Van Wezel
Course Map

FDOT Workshop: U.S. 41 & Gulfstream Ave. 
Municipal Auditorium 
Tues., March 28 
5 p.m. - 7 p.m. 

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

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

Fri., March 17 - 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

Sarasota Orchestra - Masterworks: Titan 
Sat., March 18 - 8 p.m.
Sun., March 19 - 2:30 p.m.

Jump, Jive & Wail featuring The Jive Aces 
Tues., March 21 - 8 p.m.

Ringling Town Hall - Kofi Annan 
Wed., March 22 - 10:30 a.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Shadowland by Pilobolus 
Thurs., March 23 - 8 p.m.

Fri., March 24 - 8 p.m.
Sat., March 25 - 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Sun., March 26 - 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band 
Mon., March 27 - 8 p.m.

Momix - Opus Cactus 
Tues., March 28 - 8 p.m.

Sarasota Concert Association - Piano Duo 
Thurs., March 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

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