20170317-17 Mar 2017

Construction of groins for Lido Renourishment Project would be prohibited during sea turtle nesting season, U.S. Fish and Wildlife says

Biological Opinion lays out series of stipulations to protect wildlife

With the focus having been put on legal challenges over the past couple of months, a Biological Opinion the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued on the plans for the Lido Renourishment Project figuratively “flew under the radar,” The Sarasota News Leader has learned. Yet, that opinion — issued on Dec. 29, 2016 — will have substantial bearing on the timing of part of the joint initiative of the City of Sarasota and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), if it is allowed to proceed. (Read more »)

City attorney says city has ‘no legal obligation’ to convey former Police Department property to county

Robert Fournier provides current city commissioners a copy of a 2015 memorandum he wrote on the issue and exhibits to back up his assertions

Following a Sarasota County Commission discussion of the issue in mid-February, Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier has reported to City Manager Tom Barwin that he believes the city “has no legal obligation to convey the former police station site to Sarasota County.” (Read more »)

Tourist Development Tax collections for December and January lagging behind those for the same months in previous fiscal year

Number of visitors from the United Kingdom and ‘German-speaking central Europe continues to decline,’ Visit Sarasota County president says, but Canadian tourism rebounding a bit

Tourist Development Tax collections (TDT) were down in December 2016 and January, with the latter month showing a drop of more than $220,000 compared to the same month in 2016, the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office has reported. (Read more »)

Diversity in Sarasota County hiring shows ‘dramatic improvement’ from 2015 to 2016, report says

Assistant Administrator Cunningham loses out on bid to be Pasco County administrator

Sarasota County achieved a “dramatic improvement” in the diversity of employees it hired in 2016, according to a report provided to the County Commission. (Read more »)

Ahearn-Koch, Brody and Hyde headed to May 9 runoff

City voter participation was 19.12%, elections office unofficial totals show

Tahiti Park Neighborhood Association President Jen Ahearn-Koch, attorney Hagen Brody and businessman Martin Hyde are headed to a May 9 runoff for two at-large City of Sarasota Commission seats. (Read more »)

Construction likely to begin this summer on first new Siesta Key condominium development since 2009

County staff has approved the site plan for Oceane, which will front on Big Pass

Almost exactly five years ago, representatives of the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast — based in Osprey — appeared before the Siesta Key Association (SKA) with a proposal for a pocket park on almost an acre of land perched on Big Sarasota Pass. (Read more »)

Economic impact on county of annual Grand Prix festival more than $37 million in 2016

Event continues to rank No. 1 on Visit Sarasota County list in terms of financial contributions to the community, research shows

With its 33rd event ahead this summer, Suncoast Charities for Children’s Grand Prix Festival has seen its economic impact on Sarasota County rise about 5% year after year, the nonprofit’s executive director, Luci Nicandri, recently told Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Council (TDC). (Read more »)

City seeking about $30 million in state loans to proceed with final phases of Lift Station 87 project

Osprey Avenue could reopen to traffic as early as July

As the City of Sarasota’s Utilities Department director put it: “We’ve been saying December of 2020; we’re still looking at December of 2020.” Mitt Tidwell was speaking of the timeline for completing the Lift Station 87 project, which will include the construction of a new facility in Luke Wood Park near downtown Sarasota. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

Solorzanos Code Enforcement violation resolved before hearing; FL Parking Co. owner provides more information; Fire Station 13 statistics shared; Rhana Bazzini remains focused on a park in place of Siesta Promenade; Commissioner Maio shows his humorous side to SKA members; Sgt. Osborne back on the Key for Spring Break patrols; and Easter Egg Hunt reminders

A Sarasota County Code Enforcement case involving Solorzanos Pizzeria on Avenida Madera in Siesta Village was on the agenda for Special Magistrate Court last week, The Sarasota News Leader learned. However, the parties resolved the issue in time for the March 10 hearing to be cancelled, Kim Francel, the public records coordinator for Sarasota County, told the News Leader in a March 7 email. (Read more »)

Potential improvements at intersection of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue to be focus of March 28 FDOT meeting in Sarasota

Session to be held at the Municipal Auditorium

From 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28, representatives of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will conduct a public meeting on proposals to improve traffic flow at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue in downtown Sarasota, the department has announced. (Read more »)

Open house in Venice to focus on how to drive the Jacaranda Boulevard roundabout

Session set from 4 to 7 p.m. on March 22

Sarasota County staff and representatives of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will host an open house on March 22 to update the public on improvements to the Jacaranda Boulevard roundabout, the county has announced. (Read more »)

ALSO Youth seeking a new executive director

Nonprofit offers support to LGBTQIA youth

ALSO Youth’s executive director, Donna Hanley, has announced that she will be leaving her position effective April 14, the nonprofit has announced. (Read more »)

Sarasota in Defense of Animals to host open house and picnic on Sunday, April 2

Fundraising event to enable contributors to see the facilities and meet some of the animals

Sarasota in Defense of Animals (SDA), a nonprofit animal rescue organization, will host an open house and picnic on Sunday, April 2, it has announced. The fundraising event will begin at noon and end at 3 p.m., a news release says. The cookout will feature vegetarian items. (Read more »)

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe announces auditions for its 2017-2018 season

March 25 and March 26 have been set aside for that purpose

On Saturday, March 25, and Sunday, March 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) will hold auditions for its 2017-2018 season, the theater group has announced. Auditions will take place at the WBTT Binz Building (1012 N. Orange Ave. in Sarasota), which is adjacent to the troupe’s theater building. (Read more »)

High school seniors urged to get no-cost vaccines for college before school year ends or before they turn 19

Health Department staff recommends a variety of immunizations

Local public health and Sarasota County School District leaders are reminding high school seniors to get their immunizations updated before graduating or turning 19. Vaccines are only available at no charge through the federally funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) program while a student is enrolled in high school or younger than 19, a Health Department news release points out. (Read more »)

City recognized as Healthy Weight Community Champion

Award presentation set for March 20 during City Commission meeting

The City of Sarasota has been recognized by the Florida Department of Health as a Healthy Weight Community Champion, the city has announced. (Read more »)

Sheriff’s Office offers tips to visitors and residents to ensure a safe spring break

Enhanced patrols provided in various areas of the county

With colleges’ and school districts’ spring break observances underway, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is enhancing patrols in areas of the county, the office has announced. “An increased law enforcement presence at local beaches and popular entertainment establishments is intended to disrupt incidents before they happen and reduce crimes of opportunity,” a Sheriff’s Office news release says. “Special attention is being paid to underage drinking and drug possession, as well as traffic enforcement.” (Read more »)