20151211-11 Dec 2015

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Benches slated to make reappearance in Sarasota’s Five Points Park

No benches next to Five Points Park Dec. 8 2015 RogerCity Commission authorizes staff to come up with a plan for ‘activating’ the park

Several passersby walked through or by Selby Five Points Park on the cooler but sunny morning of Dec. 8. Among them were a vacationing couple, a mom with a stroller and another child in tow, a doctor who has a downtown Sarasota office, and a woman on a break from work. However, in the span of more than an hour, no one lingered or stopped to rest in the downtown Sarasota park. No one paused to read a book or drink coffee. City leaders and downtown advocates hope that will change — that more of the public will utilize the facility — as the city explores a plan to reintroduce benches, or some other combination of seating accommodations, and “activate” Five Points Park. (Read more »)

Palm Avenue hotel project moves ahead

Hilton Curio-Palm Avenue-hotel onlyBreaking ground next month on the proposed Hilton Curio would be a significant milestone for a parcel that has been the center of several failed attempts to foster development

The plan for a modern boutique hotel adjacent to the Palm Avenue public parking garage is moving forward. On Monday, Dec. 7, the Sarasota city commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a purchase and sale agreement with Palm Avenue Hospitality Holdings for the city-owned property. The closing will take place no later than Dec. 17. Angus Rogers, the developer who established Palm Avenue Hospitality Holdings, told The Sarasota News Leader after the vote that he and his team plan to break ground on the hotel in early January, shortly after taking ownership of the nearly 1-acre parcel. (Read more »)

School district employee’s remarks to the Venice Council leads to County Commission vote on communications regarding school impact fees

Kathie Ebaugh School Board Sept. 15 2015 RBHChristine Robinson raises concerns about other county governing boards protesting the level of the new fees to her board; in the meantime, a public hearing on the fees is set for Jan. 26

The Dec. 8 Sarasota County Commission agenda item said simply, “To authorize a public hearing on an ordinance amending Article VIII, Chapter 70 of the County Code, relating to Educational Impact Fees.” But it led to more than a vote on that topic after a commissioner told her colleagues about a Sarasota County School District employee’s recent comment to the Venice City Council. (Read more »)

City seeks allies against shelter

Shirley Brown Oct. 20 2015 RBHCurrent and former city commissioners urge the School Board to get involved in county plans for addressing chronic homelessness, but School Board Chair Shirley Brown says the board will not insert itself in the matter

Two current and two past Sarasota city commissioners were among 10 speakers who urged the Sarasota County School Board this week to “choose to weigh in,” as Kate Lowman put it, on the potential for the County Commission to establish a come-as-you-are homeless shelter near Booker Middle and High schools and the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex in north Sarasota. (Read more »)

Total of seven county impact fees for a new 2,000-square-foot home could rise $1,400, based on an updated study

Clancy Mullen BCC Dec. 9 2015 TVThe County Commission learns details of the first review in eight years of fees for parks, libraries and other services

A family moving into a new home with 2,000 to 3,000 square feet of space would pay $1,400 more in impact fees for a range of services Sarasota County provides if the County Commission adopt new sets of fees at the full, legally defensible levels supported by a recently completed study, the commission heard in a Dec. 9 presentation. (Read more »)

South Siesta Key Renourishment Project to get under way in January, thanks to Dec. 9 votes on funding and contractor

South Siesta renourishment project area BCC Dec. 9 2015County Commission approves the necessary facets of the $21.5 million undertaking, including assessments of the affected property owners

It took only about 10 minutes on Dec. 9 for the Sarasota County Commission to vote unanimously to authorize the second nourishment of an approximately 2-mile stretch of south Siesta Key. The work is expected to begin in January and conclude before sea turtle nesting season begins on May 1, county staff has said. One critical component of the funding for the $21.5 million project is the establishment of a Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU) district. (Read more »)

Osprey couple considering options after commission formally denies their petition for construction on Siesta Key

Sania and Ronald Allen BCC Oct. 14 2015 RBHRonald and Sania Allen could choose to pursue legal action claiming the board decision constitutes a ‘taking,’ attorney says

The attorney for an Osprey couple who failed for the third time this year to win a county variance for the construction of a house at 162 Beach Road on Siesta Key are “weighing their various options” after the Sarasota County Commission voted formally this week to uphold its Oct. 14 denial of their petition. The board’s action was part of its unanimous approval of the Dec. 8 Consent Agenda during its regular meeting in Venice. (Read more »)

Assistant Sarasota County Administrator Lowery to retire next year

Lee Ann Lowery via Sarasota CountyAnnouncement gives county administrator an opportunity to make his first outside hire for a high-level management position

Assistant County Administrator Lee Ann Lowery has submitted her notice of retirement, effective Sept. 30, 2016, County Administrator Tom Harmer informed the County Commission in a Dec. 9 email. When she steps down, Lowery will have completed 30 years of public service in the Florida Retirement System, the last four of those in Sarasota County government, Harmer added. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

Ben Quartermaine Ocean Higel Drainage Project SKA Dec. 3 2015 LOW REZCounty stormwater engineer offers more details on drainage project for Ocean Boulevard/Higel Avenue; SKA gets county permission to undertake beach trash collection program; SKA has a new board member; and the SKA is encouraging members to pay renewal dues online

As he had two days earlier before the Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA), Sarasota County stormwater engineer Ben Quartermaine presented details about an upcoming drainage project to about 25 members of the Siesta Key Association (SKA) on Dec. 3. This time, however, one of the residents in the affected area, Paul Chadwell, challenged Quartermaine. (Read more »)

Sandy Claws Run to be held Dec. 12

Sandy Claws Beach Run via scgov.net copyParks, Recreation and Natural Resources will host the 39th annual event

The 39th annual Sandy Claws Beach Run will be held on Siesta Key Public Beach on Saturday, Dec. 12, Sarasota County has announced. This event “draws hundreds of runners, joggers and walkers to the beautiful, hard-packed sand of Siesta Beach, with many participants wearing fun holiday costumes,” a county news release points out. (Read more »)

Six Sarasota County libraries to be closed Dec. 11 for staff development

Selby Library with building name LightenedJacaranda and Gulf Gate libraries to remain open

Six Sarasota County public libraries will be closed Friday, Dec. 11, for staff development as library employees attend a full-day training session, the county has announced. Two libraries will remain open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day: Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Public Library at 4143 Woodmere Park Blvd. in Venice; and Gulf Gate Public Library, located at 7112 Curtiss Ave. in Sarasota. (Read more »)

School district receives $25,000 grant from Gulf Coast Community Foundation

School Board sign June 2012 copyFunds support the Reading Recovery program at three elementary schools

The Sarasota County School District has received a $25,000 grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation for the district’s Reading Recovery program, which is designed to help struggling readers at three elementary schools, the district has announced. The schools are Atwater and Cranberry in North Port and Tuttle in Sarasota, a news release says. Gulf Coast also serves as the fiscal agent for the project. (Read more »)

Maio elected commission chair

Commissioner Al Maio via scgov Dec. 2015Commissioner Paul Caragiulo to serve as vice chair, and Commissioner Charles Hines named pro tem

The Sarasota County commissioners unanimously elected Alan Maio of District 4 as chair and Paul Caragiulo of District 2 as vice chair for 2016, the county has announced. The votes came during the board’s annual retreat, which was held at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota on Dec. 4. Charles Hines, who represents District 5, will serve as pro tem. The positions are effective as of Jan. 1. (Read more »)

Shirley Brown elected chair of county School Board for one-year term

Shirley Brown-Sarasota County School Board LOW REZCaroline Zucker to serve as vice chair

During the annual reorganization meeting of the Sarasota County School Board, held Nov. 17, the members elected Shirley Brown chairwoman to succeed Frank Kovach, the district has announced. Caroline Zucker was elected vice chair for the same term. Both will serve until the board’s next annual election, in November 2016. (Read more »)

Sarasota County jail medical accreditation renewed

Sarasota County Jail cropped RBH July 2013 LOW REZCommittee visited the facility in June

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight announced on Dec. 8 that the Accreditation Committee of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) has voted to continue to accredit the medical services at the Sarasota County Jail. “Every three years, the Accreditation Committee inspects the facility’s compliance with NCCHC’s Standards for Health Services in Jails,” a news release explains. (Read more »)

Magazine names Sarasota’s Marina Jack 2015 Marina of the Year

Marina Jack smallFacility recognized for investment in its amenities and customer service, along with its community partnerships

Marina Jack in Sarasota has been named the 2015 National Marina of the Year by Marina Dock Age magazine, the marina industry’s leading publication, according to a news release from Marina Jack. “This highly competitive accolade” is awarded annually to one small marina — with fewer than 250 slips — and one large marina — with more than 250 slips. Established in 1968, Marina Jack has 316 wet and dry slips, a full-service fuel dock, a ship’s store and an on-site Yacht Services Department. (Read more »)

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