Hampshire reappointed to Downtown Improvement District, while Krusing wins other open seat

Salem gets another term on city Planning Board

The City of Sarasota’s Downtown Improvement District (DID) advisory board has its second female member, thanks to a unanimous vote of the City Commission on Dec. 5.

Harmoni F. Krusing, who owns the Lotus Boutique at 1464 Main St., will join long-time DID member Eileen Hampshire.

Krusing will replace Ron Soto, whose term expired this month. Soto did not seek reappointment, City Auditor and Clerk Shayla Griggs reported.

A third person, Susan North, also submitted an application for a seat on the DID board. She and her husband own the North Star Fine Jewelry and Gift Boutique, which stands at 107 S. Pineapple Ave.

“I’ve made a huge investment in building [that business],” she wrote in her application. “The city’s continued success in development and ability to thrive is imperative for future growth and enjoyment of living and working in this incredible and vibrant city,” she added.

Hampshire first won a seat on the advisory board in February 2013, a city document shows. She and her husband own Art to Walk on Inc., which stands at 16 S. Palm Ave. The shop offers rare antiques and decorative carpets.

The other members of the DID are Dr. Mark Kauffman, Chris Voelker and Wayne Ruben.

The Agenda Request Form for the Dec. 5 commission item noted that each member of the Downtown Improvement District must be the owner of property “subject to ad valorem taxation within the District.”

As the DID’s website explains, its mission since 2008 has been “to improve the downtown core of the City of Sarasota through maintenance, infrastructure and beautification projects. As a self-taxing association of downtown commercial property owners with a five-member board, the DID strives for transparency, consensus-building and fiscal responsibility.”

Commissioner Erik Arroyo opened the nominations by naming Hampshire and Krusing.

Referring to the three applicants for the two seats, Arroyo said, “They’re all extremely, extremely impressive, and they care about this community.”

Vice Mayor Liz Alpert then nominated North instead of Krusing.

Because Krusing is “very involved” in the Sarasota Downtown Merchants Association, Alpert said, she felt that North would be a better choice, because North would “broaden our leadership” and “build up our bench” of persons involved in community leadership.

Arroyo noted that Soto also was a leader of that association. He added that he felt it would be good to have another representative of the merchants’ group on the DID.

Mayor Kyle Battie said he had spoken to all three applicants, as well. Referring to North, he continued, “I could see her zeal and her enthusiasm and her vision … Downtown … needs a new look; it needs a new vision.”

“Sometimes, you know, I think we need that new fresh perspective on things,” Battie pointed out.

While Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch said she agreed “that all three are veryimpressive candidates,” but she added that she felt that institutional knowledge is important for the DID board members. Ahearn-Koch acknowledged that North is “really energetic and excited to be involved,” but Ahearn-Koch noted that Hampshire and Krusing “have really solid institutional knowledge.”

Moreover, Ahearn-Koch noted, “I try to attend … as many of the advisory board meetings as I can.” Over the years, she continued, she had seen Krusing at DID meetings. “She really has been putting in the time, getting to know the board,” and its mission and vision, Ahearn-Koch added.

Nonetheless, Ahearn-Koch said that she was “really impressed” to learn that North had made the effort to watch videos of past DID sessions.

She would prefer that North remain involved in downtown Sarasota issues and then seek future service on the DID, Ahearn-Koch added.

“I was just blown away by all three of the individuals,” new City Commissioner Debbie Trice told her colleagues. Yet, “I sort of agree with Commissioner Ahearn-Koch,” Trice added.

“I believe there will be openings this time next year [on the DID],” Trice continued. North could apply for one of those.

Although Vice Mayor Alpert did not withdraw her nomination of North, she acknowledged that it was clear that a majority of the commissioners supported Krusing instead of North.

City Auditor and Clerk Griggs accepted Hampshire’s appointment by consensus and then asked the commissioners to vote on Krusing. That vote was unanimous.

“These are not the most fun meetings,” Arroyo said of the city advisory board sessions. That was all the more reason, he continued, that he wanted to encourage anyone who would like to be appointed to one of those boards to stay involved in city matters. “There is a spot for you,” he added.

Salem reappointed to Planning Board

During a separate, unanimous vote, the commissioners reappointed Terrill Salem of North Sarasota to the Planning Board. His term also expired this month.

As the city’s website explains, “The Planning Board/Local Planning Agency holds public hearings and makes recommendations to the City Commission on a variety of development applications and related issues including:

  • “Proposed amendments to the Sarasota City Plan (2030)and the Sarasota Zoning Code [2002 edition];
  • “Ordinances and regulations governing development of land in the City;
  • “Whether proposed development conforms to the principles and requirements of the Sarasota City Plan (2030).”

None of the other Planning Board seats will be open until June 2023, according to city documents.

The other Planning Board members are Daniel Clermont, Damien Blumetti, Michael Halflants and Kathy Kelley Ohlrich. Douglas Christy is an alternate.

In response to the application question about why he wanted to continue his service on that board, Salem wrote, “To provide a voice for the working people of the city.” He added that he is licensed by the state as a general contractor and as a contractor for roofing, plumbing and mechanical equipment services; he also is a licensed real estate broker.

This year, Salem ran for a seat on the City Commission; he was defeated in the August Primary.

Commissioner Arroyo nominated Salem for reappointment to the Planning Board.

“Mr. Salem is great,” Arroyo said. “He always provides a fresh perspective. He cares deeply about the community.”

“I concur,” Mayor Battie told his colleagues.