20160325-25 Mar 2016

City and county agree to meetings to fill in information gaps pointed to in county-funded peer review of Lido Renourishment Project proposal

County administrator promises to keep the board apprised of details resulting from those talks

At the end of almost three-and-a-half hours of discussion and public comments regarding the proposed renourishment of 1.6 miles of south Lido Key with sand from Big Sarasota Pass, Sarasota County Commission Chair Al Maio summed up board direction on March 23. (Read more »)

County to embark on RESTORE pilot project in Sperling Park

Staff explains process for using BP settlement funds allocated to Sarasota County

With a unanimous vote on March 23, the Sarasota County Commission agreed to allow staff to proceed with the development of a pilot project for Ted Sperling Park on South Lido Beach, which will be funded by an allocation to the county through the RESTORE (Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies) Act. (Read more »)

Judge sets August date for case filed to stop Whole Foods development on University Parkway wetlands

Judge Rochelle Curley signs order expediting the non-jury trial, as the defendants sought

On March 23, 12th Circuit Judge Rochelle Curley set a date of Aug. 22 for a two-day, non-jury trial to hear a complaint a nonprofit environmental group filed against Sarasota County last month to stop the destruction of wetlands on University Parkway to allow a new Whole Foods store and a Wawa to be built. (Read more »)

City Commission makes it clear about representation it expects on Bayfront 20:20 planning committee

Board members debate timing and wording of a motion, as no leaders of the organization working on a new city cultural arts district were present at the March 21 meeting

Although they ended up with a unanimous vote in support of the proposal, disagreement arose among the Sarasota city commissioners on Monday, March 21, as they discussed three members’ assertion that a city staff person and a representative of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection (PREP) board serve on a small planning committee focused on the future of 42 bayfront acres. (Read more »)

Surplus land sale fails this week after question arises about last-minute remarks of one bidder

County Commission votes instead to seek an Invitation to Negotiate process on property at Apex Road and Palmer Boulevard

The average person reading the Sarasota County Commission’s March 22 agenda likely would have predicted that Item 34 would be pretty straightforward: “To consider two bids submitted for the purchase of a parcel of County surplus property located at the southwest corner of Apex Road and Palmer Boulevard, Sarasota.” (Read more »)

Survey of Gulf Gate Library patrons to be conducted in planning for new Venice facility

County Commissioner Christine Robinson seeks the undertaking as a way to improve the new Venice Library design

With planning underway for a new Venice Public Library, Sarasota County staff will conduct an informal survey of Gulf Gate Library patrons to find out what they wish was different about their new facility. (Read more »)

County arts and cultural organizations marking record seasons

Number of tourists attending performances well surpasses the national average, the county’s Arts and Cultural Alliance director tells the Tourist Development Council

Asolo Repertory Theatre’s report that it broke its box office record with West Side Story is just one of numerous signs of the strength arts and cultural organizations are experiencing this season, Jim Shirley, executive director of the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, told members of the county’s Tourist Development Council (TDC) during their most recent meeting. (Read more »)

Condominium rentals continue to bring in the most Tourist Development Tax revenue, the county’s tax collector says

Barbara Ford-Coates also says her staff is working to finalize an agreement with Airbnb so it will collect and turn over tax revenue from its hosts

Condominium rentals continue to represent the largest source of Tourist Development Tax revenue among Sarasota County accommodations, Barbara Ford-Coates, the county tax collector, told members of the Tourist Development Council during their regular meeting on March 17 in Sarasota. (Read more »)

Sarasota County ranks third once again in annual study of health factors

Annual foundation study looks at issues from smoking and obesity to the number of primary care physicians and mental health providers

For the second consecutive year, Sarasota County was ranked third in the state in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report of Florida health factors, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) announced on March 16. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

County Commission to hold public hearing in April so it can begin assessing property owners on south Siesta for the latest renourishment; a well-known county staffer is preparing for retirement; the SKVA finds an Easter Bunny; and the Chamber has a new membership director

As part of its March 22 Consent Agenda, the Sarasota County Commission formally authorized a public hearing pertaining to the levy and collection of the non-ad valorem assessments that will help pay for the South Siesta Renourishment Project. (Read more »)

Siesta’s ‘Sandman’ remains a mystery

Sculptor has become a regular feature on the beach

Who is the “Sandman”? Is he an imaginary person who materializes at Siesta Beach every weekend, where he creates his masterpieces? (Read more »)

Sarasota city leaders warning drivers of upcoming lane closure on Coon Key Bridge to St. Armands

Work expected to be completed in July

During the March 21 Sarasota City Commission meeting, City Manager Tom Barwin reminded Sarasota residents that work on the Coon Key Bridge (State Road 789) to St. Armands Circle will begin on April 4, with the westbound portion of the bridge reduced to one lane. (Read more »)

Booker High educator named Sarasota County Teacher of the Year

Khea Davis talks of her love for the school, its students and its principal

Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White announced on March 22 that Booker High School language arts teacher Khea Davis is the Sarasota County Teacher of the Year for 2016-17. (Read more »)

Sarasota resident Alex Miller files for Florida House District 72 seat

Incumbent Ray Pilon giving up his seat to run for the Florida Senate

Alexandra Miller, a longtime Sarasota resident and businesswoman, filed paperwork on March 21 declaring her candidacy for the District 72 seat in the Florida House of Representatives, Miller announced. (Read more »)

Big Truck Day EGGstravaganza planned for youngsters on March 26

Sarasota County staff hosting the event at Twin Lakes Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Big trucks and two egg hunts are in store for children at the 20th annual Big Truck Day EGGstravaganza, sponsored by the Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, the county has announced. (Read more »)

Sarasota County working to implement mangrove preservation act

New county program will be based on 1996 state law, but public comments are desired as staff shapes an ordinance

Sarasota County staff is developing a local program to implement the State of Florida’s 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act, on behalf of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and it is seeking public comments, the county has announced. (Read more »)

Library Advisory Board to host public forum in Sarasota on March 31

Session offers people an opportunity to suggest proposals about services

The Sarasota County Library Advisory Board (SCLAB) will host a public forum from 3 to 5 p.m., on Thursday, March 31, at the Selby Public Library, the county has announced. (Read more »)

Award-winning journalist to discuss author John D. MacDonald’s environmental themes

One Book One Community sessions planned on March 26 in Venice and Osprey

Award-winning journalist Craig Pittman will present A Flash of Green: John D. MacDonald and Florida’s Environment at two Sarasota County libraries on Saturday, March 26, the county has announced. (Read more »)