20160304-4 Mar 2016

Residents get their first look at City of Sarasota’s Fruitville Road plan

Both supporters and opponents weigh in on the design that city planners and consultants say would finally accomplish the goal of making the thoroughfare more pedestrian-friendly

As Steve Stancel, chief planner for the City of Sarasota, spoke at the front of a packed City Commission Chambers during a workshop on Tuesday, March 1, he described the current conditions on Fruitville Road in downtown Sarasota. (Read more »)

Sarasota County staff learns of potentially illegal subdivision work undertaken on Manasota Key

Among the parcels is one the County Commission declined to buy in January and preserve through its Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program

After learning of records on the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s website about two property owners’ efforts to subdivide lots on Manasota Key without following Sarasota County land regulations, county staff is working to set up a meeting with the owners to discuss the situation, The Sarasota News Leader has learned. (Read more »)

Attorney for plaintiffs fighting destruction of wetlands for Whole Foods not averse to quick court case

Lawsuit filed on Feb. 25 seeks to keep the project on hold until the case is settled; owners of the property in question have filed to intervene

On Jan. 26, Jeff Garrison of S.J. Collins Enterprises in Fairburn, GA, told the Sarasota County Commission that Whole Foods already had signed a 20-year lease for the 8.24-acre site on University Parkway where the company planned to open a new store by the summer of 2017. (Read more »)

County budget forecast shows no shortfall for the next fiscal year

Latest state projections for property tax increases push out need for more ‘rainy day’ fund revenue to the 2019 fiscal year

On Feb. 20, 2015, the Sarasota County Commission was looking at a potential shortfall of $8,066,135 in its 2017 fiscal year budget. Jump to Feb. 29, 2016: Based on projected revenues and expenditures, the board should not need to take any money from its “rainy day” fund to balance its FY 2017 budget. (Read more »)

Shipping containers proposed as housing units for the homeless in Sarasota and Manatee counties

Sarasota resident tells Continuum of Care group about the potential, citing worldwide availability of the units

If Amsterdam and Vancouver can do it, why not Sarasota? While living in Amsterdam for 13 years, Robert Horrow was fascinated with the use of shipping containers to create a housing community for students. (Read more »)

Sheriff’s Office personnel continuing to handle calls about complaints at Siesta Public Beach picnic shelters

A homeowners association board member of one Beach Road condominium complex across from the structures plans a petition drive to change county rules for Beach Road street parking in that vicinity

In response to continuing complaints from condominium owners who live across Beach Road from parking spaces on the street that are parallel to Siesta Key Public Beach, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office personnel have “been very pro-active” about checking on people using the picnic tables next to those spaces, Lt. Debra Kaspar of the Sheriff’s Office told members of the Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) during their regular meeting on March 1. (Read more »)

Cost estimates expected in May for facilities to be funded by county’s November referendum

The early projection is about $191 million, but county staff says it will have more exact figures after discussions with stakeholders and site work

Sarasota County staff is working through stakeholder meetings and getting ready to create models of facilities in block diagrams on the sites of a new South County courthouse complex in Venice, a Public Safety Campus for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office on Cattlemen Road in Sarasota and a new fleet center for the Sheriff’s Office on Laurel Road in Nokomis, the County Commission learned this week. (Read more »)

Two commissioners reproach county administrator during budget workshop

Comments by Carolyn Mason and Paul Caragiulo stand in stark contrast to all the praise accorded to Tom Harmer over the past two years

In the 25 months Tom Harmer has served officially as Sarasota County administrator — after an initial interim period — county commissioners have accorded him plenty of plaudits, especially for his handling of the budget. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

Creating more Village parking spaces still a work in progress; Lido Renourishment Project to get a new manager; February Craft Fair comments lead to SKVA parking discussion; Sheriff’s Office ready for Spring Break; and Stickney Point bridge lane closures planned on March 11

Although Siesta Key Village property owners pushed back as expected on a Sarasota County proposal for them to pay about $100,000 to create new parking spaces out of right of way, Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) Vice President Mark Smith is not giving up hope. (Read more »)

Ed Smith Stadium gets No. 5 ranking on Sports on Earth’s list of Top 10 Spring Training destinations

Recognition follows soon after team’s announcement about its $81-million economic impact on Sarasota County

On the heels of the Baltimore Orioles’ announcement about the team’s $81-million economic impact on Sarasota County, the baseball club has earned plaudits and a Top 10 ranking for its Spring Training facilities. (Read more »)

Smuin Ballet offers mixed program, with mixed results, as Sarasota Ballet’s guest

The first ballet proves the best of four

The Sarasota Ballet has resumed an older policy of inviting a guest company to share its annual season, and while this is an opportunity to discover what is happening in other dance companies in the country, there is a temptation to compare rather than appreciate differences. (Read more »)

Early voting for March 15 primaries will begin on Saturday, March 5

Citizens reminded that an ID with signature and photo is required

Early voting for the March 15 Presidential Preference Primary, Holiday Park Park & Recreation District Election and Town of Longboat Key Bond Referendum will begin on Saturday, March 5, and continue through Saturday, March 12, the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office has announced. (Read more »)

Sarasota in Defense of Animals to host open house and picnic on April 3

Nonprofit seeking contributions to continue fighting for measures to protect animals and to care for those it has rescued

Sarasota in Defense of Animals (SDA) will host an open house and picnic on April 3 from noon to 3 p.m., the nonprofit organization has announced. Visitors will be welcome to visit the SDA catteries, feed the pigs and enjoy a vegetarian cookout, a news release says. (Read more »)

Fairy House Festival set for March 5-6 at Historic Spanish Point

Event to feature variety of structures ‘where fairies live in harmony with nature’

Historic Spanish Point will again be aflutter with fairies and fairy houses on Friday and Saturday, March 5 and 6, during its third annual Fairy House Festival, the attraction has announced. (Read more »)

Sheriff’s Office offering reminders to help people stay safe during Spring Break this month and in April

More law enforcement personnel will be visible at beaches and other popular destinations, the office says

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is enhancing crime prevention efforts again this year as Spring Break visitors come to the area and local students enjoy their time off from school, the office has announced. (Read more »)

Sarasota County Schools reach agreement with Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association on 2015-2016 contract

Increases pegged to years of employment in the district and other factors

An agreement on the 2015-2016 contract between the Sarasota County School District and the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association (SC/TA) was reached on Feb. 26, the school district announced. (Read more »)

Sarasota County adds Little Free Library to Newtown Estates Park

National reading program promotes sharing of books in communities

Sarasota County added a new “Little Free Library” to Newtown Estates Park on March 1, just in time for National Read Across America Day on March 2, the county has announced. (Read more »)

Suncoast Technical College to host 15th Annual Car Show as fundraiser

Admission is free; vehicle exhibitors welcome, with no registration fee charged

The main campus of Suncoast Technical College (STC) in Sarasota will host its 15th Annual Car Show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 6, the Sarasota County School District has announced. (Read more »)