From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
March 15, 2019
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall kicked off a three-week run hosting the award-winning musical "The Lion King" on Thursday. The scale of this Disney production is massive: It took 18 trucks (the most in the Van Wezel's history) to unload the sets, 350 costumes and 200 puppets used in the show. This has been an extremely hot ticket, as you can imagine, but at last check a few seats still remained. See below for a link to purchase tickets for available dates. Kudos to our Van Wezel team for landing such a tremendous show!

Featured Job of the Week 

Other great opportunities!  

This Week's Items to Know:

St. Armands Garage - Solar Panels      Preparations began this week for the installation of solar panels atop the new St. Armands Garage. Energy produced by these panels will be used by the building to offset the amount of electricity that is needed to be purchased from Florida Power & Light. Power will go to the lights, elevators and the garage's multiple electric vehicle charging stations. 

We estimate these 98 solar panels will save us over $5,000 per year on electricity costs. The system will produce over 53,000 kilowatt hours a year. That's the equivalent of preventing the greenhouse gas emissions from 40,973 pounds of coal burned, 4,200 gallons of gasoline consumed or 91,600 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.

Whenever the sun is shining, the four-story garage will be partly powered via this automatic process. Installation of the panels is expected to begin next week. 

We appreciate the commitment from the City Commission and the efforts of all the City staffers involved in the parking garage's design and construction to have the demonstration solar panels included as part of the project.

This initiative supports the City's goal of transitioning all of our facilities to 100 percent renewable, zero-emission energy by 2030, as outlined in our Ready for 100 plan. The commission has also authorized our participation in FPL's proposed SolarTogether program, which, if approved by the Florida Public Service Commission, would provide all of our city government electricity needs via solar energy beginning in 2020.

The framework on the roof of the St. Armands Garage will hold 98 solar panels.

2019 Citizens Academy    This week we wrapped up a successful Citizens Academy, our first time holding this entertaining and educational course following a five-year hiatus.

Citizens Academy participants got to visit with Sarasota County firefighters to learn more about their jobs and how they serve our community.

Over the program's eight weeks, the 23 participants visited various City departments and facilities to learn about the inner workings of their local government, from Parks and Rec to Planning, Sustainability to Public Works and more. Some other highlights included meetings with SPD Chief Bernadette DiPino and Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Regnier, a site visit to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and a mock Planning Board hearing where students got to play the roles of interested/affected parties for a proposed development. 

Along the way, the participants got to hear from employees, charter officials and our city commissioners to learn about the complexities of our organization and how we are serving the community each day. 

Kudos to Neighborhood Planner Nancy Kelly for organizing and overseeing this revitalized and engaging program. We look forward to hosting a graduation ceremony for the students at Monday's City Commission meeting. And stay tuned for more information on how you can get involved when a new round of Citizens Academy returns in January 2020!

This year's Citizens Academy course included a mock Planning Board hearing.

Single-stream Recycling - Reminder  As we continue to roll out the new 65-gallon recycling carts for residents, our Solid Waste Division wants to remind you to please continue using your smaller, 18-gallon bins through the end of March .

Recycling pickup is still being handled by our vendor, Waste Pro, and their trucks are not equipped to pick up the new larger carts. When City staff begin collection service on April 1, their vehicles will be able to automatically lift and empty the new carts. That's when you can start filling and using the new carts for recycling. You can place your old, empty bins curbside at that time, too, so we can pick them up and either re-purpose or recycle them.

If you haven't received your new cart yet, sit tight - we're delivering them to 15,000 City customers throughout the month of March. Included with each cart is an info packet explaining the features of the cart and how you can start using it in April. Each cart also includes a nifty visual explainer right on the yellow lid showing which items can and cannot be recycled.

For questions about recycling, please contact Solid Waste at 941-365-7651.

Waste Pro will continue to pick up recyclables in residents' 18-gallon bins through March.

Arlington Park - Book Drive  The staff at Arlington Park and Aquatic Complex is collecting gently used and/or new books for its summer camp program. The goal is to create a library where campers can select books they enjoy reading. The staff will pair the books up with activities that keep the youngsters engaged and make reading fun.

Our camp at Robert L. Taylor Community Complex has participated in the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge every year, and this year, Arlington campers will too. The program, sponsored by the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, encourages students to read six books over the summer to combat what's known as the "summer slide." Research shows that children who don't read during the summer can lose up to three months of reading progress.

If you have any children's books to donate, please drop them off at Arlington Park, 2650 Waldemere St., during its regular operating hours. Books collected there will be shared between the camps at Arlington and RLTCC. For more information, call the Arlington Park front desk at 941-554-2110.

Special City Commission Meeting - Saturday    Our bustling downtown will be even busier than normal this Saturday. In addition to the weekly Farmers Market, which recently reported a steady increase in attendance, and the usual seasonal and spring break visitors, the City Commission is holding a special meeting at 9 a.m. at City Hall.

A large turnout is expected for the quasi-judicial hearing on an appeal of the demolition of the former G.WIZ building. The meeting convenes at 9, will recess at 11 a.m. and then resume at 2 p.m.

Those who are planning to drive downtown on Saturday morning are advised to park in the State Street, Palm Avenue or Second Street/Whole Foods garages or in available on-street spaces. A portion of First Street will be closed to vehicular traffic for the market and the lots immediately adjacent to City Hall will be unavailable. 
Motorists can find available parking at the Second Street/Whole Foods Garage.
Free CEO Course for Business Development      The City is once again partnering with the nonprofit CareerSource Suncoast to coordinate the North Sarasota Community Entrepreneur Opportunity (CEO) business course .

Held twice a year, the free, 10-week Introduction to Business Development course focuses on the core basics for new and aspiring small business owners. Through a combination of classroom training and mentoring by business consultants and other experts, participants will have an opportunity to assess their business acumen and determine the strength of their business concept.

The course will begin March 26 and will be held each Tuesday from 6-9 p.m. at CareerSource Suncoast, 3660 N. Washington Blvd. While the course is free, attendance and participation each week are mandatory.

For more information or to apply, contact the City's Office of Economic Development at 941-365-2200, ext. 3220, email or visit

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

To view the full Van Wezel season, visit 
The Lion King  
Now through Sun., March 31
Catch the RENT 20th Anniversary Tour on
April 9-10.    
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. 
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 Gale will perform April 28.

Lee Greenwood and Crystal Gayle 
Sun., April 28 - 7 p.m.
The Illusionists 
Tues., April 30 - 7:30 p.m. 

Purple Reign
Sat., May 4 - 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

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Tom Barwin
City Manager