From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
February 17, 2017
Photo of the Week
This week we hosted four finalists for the recently reinstated Planning Director position.  Following a national search, we encouraged the community to learn about the candidates, meet them at an open house at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex this week (photo above) and even sit in during in-depth panel interviews at City Hall.  Because this position will focus on long range planning and the future quality of life in our city, it's important to gather as much input as possible as part of the process.  All four candidates offer substantial knowledge and experience with urban planning and each is well qualified.  We're fortunate to have such a strong candidate pool.  We expect to make a selection very soon.

  • City Commission
    Tues., February 21 - 2:30 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 Stakeholders
    Tues., February 21 - 4:45 p.m.
    Selby Botanical Gardens - 811 S. Palm Ave.
  • Firefighters' Pension Plan Bd. of Trustees
    Wed., February 22 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Board of Adjustment
    Wed., February 22 - 1:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Fruitville Rd. Streetscape Enhancement
    Wed., February 22 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Police Complaint Cmte.
    Wed., February 22 - 5:30 p.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Police Officers' Pension Plan Bd. of Trustees
    Regular Meeting
    Fri., February 24 - 8:15 a.m.
  • Police Officers' Pension Plan Bd. of Trustees:
    Special Meeting

    Fri., February 24 - 10 a.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
Black History Month

Although younger generations may find this hard to believe, and it remains difficult to comprehend today, but not so long ago Lido Beach was off limits to many Sarasota residents.

The racial integration of Lido Beach was a lengthy struggle which started in the early 1950s.  Jetson Grimes, a lifelong Sarasota resident and frequent Lido Beach walker to this day, recalls the resistance he and friends encountered when they arrived at the beach.  That resistance, Mr Grimes says, escalated to violence with bricks being thrown at them and their cars.  In the face of anger and hostility, a small group of brave African Americans returned to Lido Key weekend after weekend trying to gain equal access to the public beach. 
At the time, local government officials were not on their side and some
A Sarasota Herald-Tribune article from 1955. 
actively worked against civil rights.  In fact, a newspaper article from that time period references the Sarasota City Commission quietly considering the sale of the Lido Casino to a private interest so it would not have to be integrated as a public facility.  That did not occur.
In an effort to calm the growing racial divide, an idea was floated to create a segregated beach for blacks only somewhere in Sarasota County.  That option was met with resistance from white residents who lived near the beaches on Lido Key and Longboat Key.  A handful of vocal supporters championed the need for blacks to have access to beach facilities, including Pulitzer prize winning novelist MacKinley Kantor, who threatened to write an expose entitled "Sarasota Cheats Its Black Children", if the County Commission refused to designate a beach. 
Ultimately, an 8-member bi-racial committee was assembled to study the feasibility of a segregated beach.  Unofficially, a beach in south Venice became the designated black beach.  It was a long distance though -- 40 miles round trip -- from Newtown, the predominantly African American community.  At the same time, plans for a blacks only swimming pool in Newtown moved forward, and in 1957 a pool opened at the Newtown Recreation Center. 
Meanwhile, civil rights activists continued their fight for equal beach access for all.  Even after the  Civil Rights Act became law in 1964, several years passed before Lido Beach gradually was integrated.

Today a historical marker is placed at the Lido Beach pavilion documenting that turbulent time and the brave men and women who persisted and won equal access to what is one of the city's most cherished natural treasures. 

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
Manager, Accounting & Payroll Systems
    Police Officer, 2nd Class
System Integrator  


This Week's Items to Know:
Presidents' Day: Feb. 20 - City Hall Closed   City administrative offices will be closed next Monday, February 20 in observance of the federal holiday, Presidents' Day.

Garbage, recycling, and yard waste will be collected as usual.

Bobby Jones Golf Club will be open regular hours (6:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.) as will Robert L. Taylor Community Complex (6 a.m. - 8 p.m.).  The Van Wezel will host two Ringling Town Hall shows.

The regular City Commission meeting will be held the following day on Tuesday, February 21 at 2:30 p.m. & 6 pm.  


SPD - Overall Crime Down -6.9% Led by Chief Bernadette DiPino, the Sarasota Police Department has been diligently working with the community to build strong trust based relationships.  This partnership policing philosophy is a proven method to help reduce crime in neighborhoods as residents and SPD officers strengthen their communications and trust.

We're pleased to report our partnership policing techniques, tailored specifically to Sarasota, continue to be results oriented.  During the past year, violent crime dropped 16.2% and property crimes went down 5.5% for a total crime index reduction of -6.9%. Bravo to all!

Since Chief DiPino came on board with SPD in December 2012, overall crime in the city has dropped nearly 25%.  Congratulations to Chief DiPino, all our dedicated officers, and the community who are working together every day to make Sarasota the safest city it can be.  

St. Armands Parking Garage   The technical working group for the St. Armands Parking Garage assembled earlier this week to discuss the status of the project. Over a dozen representatives were on hand from the St. Armands business district,
The St. Armands parking garage working group meeting
at City Hall earlier this week.

engineering firm, construction company, architectural firm, Parking Operations Division and other key staff members.  I sat in on the meeting and can report this important project is in good hands.

We're in the very early design stage, awaiting final geo-technical information to help chart a course for the building footprint. As part of the design phase, staff will consider sustainability options including possibly adding energy efficient lighting, sustainable water mechanisms, electric car charging stations and solar panels (in an unobtrusive manner to the surrounding area).

As part of the overall project, a new water line will be installed and utility lines currently hanging along John Ringling Boulevard will be buried to provide a safer environment in the event of a severe storm.

A community meeting is scheduled for Wed., March 8 at 8:30 a.m. at the St. Armands Key Lutheran Church to go over the initial plans and discuss conceptual designs.

We appreciate everyone working on this important project and look forward to it coming out of the ground.

Parking Management - Getting Tech Savvy  Through next week, you may see a 3-man crew working in public parking spaces throughout the city.  They're installing electronic sensors that will provide information on parking availability.  Through the use of a cell phone app, drivers will be able to make smart parking decisions based on availability and lessen their time seeking a space.    

A sensor being installed in a parking space on Links Ave. 
The City was approached by a private smart parking company, Streetline, that proposed to install the infrastructure for the system and operate it at no cost to the City.  Following due diligence by the Parking Operations Division, we decided to embark on this tech savvy program that will empower drivers and strengthen parking management.

1-2 sensors (slightly larger than a hockey puck) will be installed per block into the blacktop. Combined with other reporting technology, the sensors will enable accurate aggregation of parking data, and through sophisticated algorithms, report with high accuracy information about the availability of parking spaces. Once the program is up and running, that information will be available via a mobile app. The possibilities for enhancing parking experiences are exciting!

While the sensors will be installed by next week, it will take the company 3-4 months to confirm the sensors are working properly and activate the system for public use.  We'll keep you posted when the app can be downloaded and used in Sarasota.

Thanks to Parking General Manager Mark Lyons for pursing this cutting edge approach to parking management.  We look forward to the program being unveiled soon and helping us park smart!

GIS Maps Page - Relocated   We recently relocated the GIS maps page on the City's website to the very top of the homepage at   Just look for the word 'Maps'.

Since being introduced to the public last spring, the maps page has become a go-to resource for many professionals doing business in the city limits including engineers, architects, utility contractors and real estate agents. Lots of other information that residents might be interested in, including the location of bus stops, bike paths, multi-use recreational trails, schools and voting districts, also can be found on the site.
The link to the GIS maps page is now at the top of the homepage. 

Human Resources - Professional Certification  At the City of Sarasota, we encourage professional growth.  And, we're proud to announce our Human Resources Training Coordinator, Dennis Baker, recently passed a rigorous exam to become a Society of Human Resource Management - Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).  The test involved realistic work scenarios and on-the-job situations, making this a very relevant certification. Receiving this professional accreditation recognizes Dennis as a leader and expert in the field of Human Resources. Congratulations, Dennis!

Every aspect of our City work involves individuals. And in the evolving world of Human Resources, it's important to have well trained personnel who have the education, experience and temperament to help guide us through hiring, compensation, benefits, performance management, training and potential workplace issues. 

Our current HR team, led by HR Director Stacie Mason, includes five certified professionals -- the most the City has ever had on staff.  That's an impressive achievement and testament to our commitment to professional growth and well qualified individuals.

Our certified HR professionals:

* Stacie Mason, HR Director:  SPHR and SHRM-SCP
* April Bryan, HR General Manager:  SPHR and SHRM-SCP
* Dominique Anderson, HR Generalist:  PHR
* Dennis Baker, HR Coordinator:  SHRM-SCP
* Cheryl Garrett, Sr. HR Generalist:  PHR

We appreciate the team's dedication and expertise, especially as we fill vacant positions and help new employees assimilate so we can  work together toward the betterment of the City.

The Human Resources team.  Front (L to R): HR Director Stacie Mason, Dominique Anderson, Julie Block; Back (L to R): Dennis Baker, April Bryan, Cheryl Garrett, P.J.  Hahn, Terrance Gilliam, Judy Dubreuil 

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

Art at J.D. Hamel Park 
J.D. Hamel Park
Sat., February 18 & Sun., February 19
10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

A Little Night Music/Sarasota Orchestra 
Municipal Auditorium
Tues., February 21
6 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Coffee with a Cop 
Starbucks - 1401 First Street
Thurs., February 23
8:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Gillespie Park Compost Pilot 
Information Meeting (Gillespie Park Residents)
Thurs., February 23:  6 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Sat., February 25:  11 a.m. - Noon
Gillespie Park Police Substation (710 N. Osprey)

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

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

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.
Jackie Evancho will perform on Feb. 27.


Ringling Town Hall - Jared Cohen
Mon., February 20 - 10:30 a.m. & 7:30 p.m.

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.
Lang Lang will be at the Van Wezel on Feb. 23.

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

Weekly Briefs will be on hiatus next week.

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Tom Barwin
City Manager