July 21 & 28, 2017 Edition (Annual Double Issue)

Higher rates for NEW subscriptions coming August 1st

We are grateful for our Charter Subscribers, who have supported our publication so faithfully through our first two years as a subscription-based publication. Please know that your yearly rate WILL NEVER INCREASE from the Charter rate of $25 per year as long as you continuously maintain your subscription (which includes auto-renew to your credit card).
However, Piano Software, which manages our paywall, is significantly increasing our processing costs. They essentially have been giving us the service for the past two years, collecting only the fee for processing credit cards. Now they would like to have some sort of revenue from us and other publications using their service. That’s certainly fair, but we operate the SNL on very tiny margins as well. So we will need to increase the cost of NEW annual subscriptions (NOT Charter Subscriptions) to $30 per year as of August 1st. We regret the necessity of this increase. However, there is still time to become a Charter Subscriber and lock in that Charter rate of only $25 per year. Simply become a paid subscriber by July 31st, and maintain your annual subscription through auto-renewal.
Please know that we remain committed to providing our readers with the most comprehensive local news coverage in Sarasota County, and we provide that news at a fraction of the cost of other paid publications (and without any annoying ads whatsoever).
Thank you for your continuing support of The Sarasota News Leader.


With Sarasota County business having lost its appeal to put a retail pet sales ban on hold, focus of litigation back in 12th Judicial Circuit Court

Notice of October mediation filed in the case

The Florida Second District Court of Appeal has formally acknowledged the end of an appeal of a 12th Judicial Circuit Court judge’s ruling in January, which allowed a Sarasota County ban on the retail sales of dogs and cats to remain in effect while a Sarasota pet store fights the law in court. (Read more »)


City Commission splits 3-2 in voting down increase of business tax for the next two fiscal years

Mayor and vice mayor join Commissioner Brody in opposition to staff’s proposal

Sarasota Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie criticized city staff this week because changes she had sought — which were part of a July 3 motion — had not been incorporated into the proposed ordinance to raise the City of Sarasota’s business license tax by 5% for the next two years. She joined Vice Mayor Liz Alpert and Commissioner Hagen Brody in a three-vote majority on July 17 that defeated the tax hike. (Read more »)


Estimated cost of Lido Renourishment Project has risen $2 million, City of Sarasota document shows, with the 2019 fiscal year indicated for the work

City Commission reaffirms its commitment to the initiative — and its plan to use local tourist tax revenue for part of the expense — in a resolution for FDEP

The estimated cost of the City of Sarasota/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) proposed project to dredge Big Sarasota Pass to renourish about 1.6 miles of South Lido Key has risen, as detailed in a document provided to the City Commission for its July 17 meeting. (Read  more »)


City Commission agrees to ask County Commission to give it half the amount of the disputed final Downtown CRA payment, with interest accrued

City manager to convey that to county administrator before city board’s August meeting and then work on a list of projects the $2.6 million could fund

Having received no correspondence regarding the Sarasota County Commission’s discussion of the issue last week, the Sarasota City Commission took about 40 minutes this week to decide on its next steps in the city’s nearly 15-month-long effort to collect one final county payment into the Downtown Sarasota Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) Trust Fund. (Read more »)


Residents bemoan boom in towering Siesta Key houses designed for tourists, not families

Concerns growing about added traffic congestion, more garbage and lack of county requirement for fire suppression systems in the multi-family dwellings

Call it a “tale of four houses.” In a two-block span, three new towering residences and one under construction epitomize for longtime Siesta Key residents the unwelcome changes that have been taking place on the island in recent years. (Read more »)


Amended ordinance will require all dogs to be on leashes in City of Sarasota parks

Staff to continue to work on master plan for creating new enclosed areas designated for dogs to run freely

On a unanimous vote, the Sarasota City Commission this week agreed that all dogs in city parks — except in those areas specifically designated as dog parks — should be on leashes. The board members chose to remove from a proposed ordinance an option that would have allowed a neighborhood group to petition for a park to be off-leash, with the city’s Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection Board (PREP) having the final say on such action. (Read more »)


City of Sarasota’s preliminary millage rates approved for mailing to property owners in August

Unanimous vote keeps citywide rate at current level

The Sarasota City Commission this week unanimously approved advertisement of the proposed millage rates for the 2018 fiscal year, with the total for the citywide rate remaining the same as this year: 3.1728 mills. (Read more »)


On a 4-1 vote, City Commission agrees to try a ‘living seawall’ pilot program on the O’Leary’s waterfront

Design contract awarded to Sarasota firm, with total cost of that work and construction estimated at less than $300,000

To Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody, it just seemed “like a frivolous expenditure.” Nonetheless, his colleagues agreed this week with a staff proposal to use some of the city’s settlement from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to fund a pilot “living seawall” on the O’Leary’s shoreline in Bayfront Park. (Read more »)


Request for Qualifications issued in effort to secure a design team for master planning of the City of Sarasota’s 42 acres on the bayfront

Charrettes with the finalists to be held in October

The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization (SBPO) has issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to solicit a design team that will lead the creation of a comprehensive master plan for the 42 acres the City of Sarasota owns “at the heart of Sarasota’s Bayfront,” the SBPO announced this week. (Read more »)


SANCA board names new CEO to replace Sullivan

Stephen Rodriguez leaving the Florida Sports Foundation to begin work in August, SANCA chair announces

The senior vice president of the Florida Sports Foundation will be the new president and CEO of the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA), which manages events at Nathan Benderson Park. (Read more »)


Harmer’s final day with the county to be Dec. 8

Longboat Town Commission approves his contract as the new town administrator

With the Longboat Town Commission having voted on July 17 to approve his hiring, Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer officially tendered his resignation to the County Commission the same day. “I have been asked to assume duties of Town Manager no later than December 11, 2017,” Harmer wrote in his letter to the county board. “Therefore, please accept this as my notice that my last day with Sarasota County will be Friday, December 8, 2017.” (Read more »)


Siesta Beach Resort to be transformed into boutique hotel, with completion planned late this year

New owner’s goal is to make it one of the premier accommodations on the state’s west coast

Every time Michael Holderness used to drive by the Siesta Beach Resort & Suites, he would think about its potential. The only true hotel on Siesta Key — and in Siesta Village, at that — the property’s more glorious days had been in the past. Built in 1955, it used to be a small but popular tourist mecca. (Read more »)


Building Industry Association CEO wins County Commission appointment to Board of Zoning Appeals

Jon Mast to serve term through January 2020

Just a day before one of its most recent decisions was the focus of public comments, the Sarasota County Board of Zoning Appeals gained a new member. (Read more »)


Orange Avenue/Hillview Street intersection closed for a City of Sarasota project

New traffic signals to be installed and sewer line rehabilitation planned

To facilitate infrastructure improvements, full and partial road closures at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Hillview Street has begun and will continue through Friday, Aug. 11, the City of Sarasota has announced. (Read more »)


City wins state historic preservation grant to help it pay for improvements to Federal Building

Hurricane protection for windows and new air-cooling equipment to be installed, along with restoration of balustrades

The City of Sarasota has been awarded “a significant historic preservation grant from the State of Florida” to help cover the cost of improvements to the city-owned Federal Building, located at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Ringling Boulevard in downtown Sarasota, City Manager Tom Barwin announced in his July 14 newsletter. (Read more »)


Nine people arrested in Sheriff’s Office’s initiative targeting unlicensed contractors

Sarasota County Building Department and two state agencies worked with detectives on Operation Freelancer IV

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has arrested nine people on multiple charges as a result of its Operation Freelancer IV, an investigation to protect residents from unlicensed contractors, the office has announced. (Read more »)


Volunteers sought for county disaster response

Recruitment and training workshop set for Tuesday, July 25, at Twin Lakes Park

The Sarasota County Health and Human Services Department is recruiting a team of volunteers to run Volunteer Reception Centers (VRCs) during a disaster, the county has announced. (Read more »)


Performers announced for opening ceremony of World Rowing Championships, set for Sept. 23

Circus Sarasota, Cuban Ballet School, Sarasota Pops and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe among the participants

Incorporating a circus theme, performers from a variety of community arts organizations will collaborate for the opening ceremony of the 2017 World Rowing Championships, event organizers have announced. On Saturday, Sept. 23 — the eve of the first day of competition — the free event at 7 p.m. has been designed to resemble those held for the Olympic Games, a news release explains. (Read more »)