Commissioner Brody lays blame for Mote aquarium decision on shoulders of city manager

Feb. 20 exchanges at one point prompt mayor’s reminder about city’s code of conduct for meetings

At one point on Feb. 20, during a 41-minute City Commission discussion of Mote Marine’s proposed new $130-million aquarium at Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie had to bang the gavel several times and remind everyone about the code of conduct for the city’s public meetings. (Read more »)

Three vying for County Commission District 4 seat

Incumbent Alan Maio to face another Republican, Lourdes Ramirez, and Democratic newcomer Wesley Beggs

One candidate already has dropped out of the race, but two others — including a Democrat — have filed papers to run against incumbent Sarasota County Commissioner Alan Maio for the District 4 seat. The newcomer in the race is Wesley Beggs, who filed on Feb. 8. (Read more »)

County Commission to have final say on legalizing golf carts in Pinecraft, after Traffic Advisory Council votes ‘No’

County Commission public hearing set for March 14

Although the Sarasota County Traffic Advisory Council (TAC) voted unanimously to deny the request, the Sarasota County commissioners will have the final say on whether golf carts will be allowed legally on designated streets in Pinecraft. A public hearing on the issue has been scheduled on the commission’s March 14 agenda, county Planner Steve Kirk told The Sarasota News Leader this week. (Read more »)

City of Sarasota to install permanent generators at five sewer lift stations as part of state consent order related to Hurricane Irma

Purchase of portable generators and improvement to Whitaker Bayou sewer line also part of agreement

The City of Sarasota will be installing permanent generators at five of its sewage lift stations and purchasing portable generators for use at others as needed, thanks to a unanimous City Commission vote this week. The measures are necessary under the terms of a consent order city staff negotiated with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, former city Utilities Director Mitt Tidwell explained to the commission during its regular meeting on Feb. 20. (Read more »)

Sarasota County Schools seeking public comments on how to improve school security and student safety

Sheriff Tom Knight offers recommendation about hiring of retired veterans and first responders to supplement school resource officers on campuses

The Sarasota County School District is asking members of the public to offer comments and suggestions regarding school safety and security in the wake of the 17 deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14. Tracey Long Beeker, the district’s new director of communications and public relations, made the announcement on Sunday, Feb. 18, noting an “upcoming school safety task force meeting with Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday in Tallahassee.” (Read more »)

County ‘bed tax’ revenue up more than 15% for first quarter of 2018 fiscal year, latest figures show

Visitors’ direct spending up by 4.1% in December 2017

December 2017 was another good month for Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections, the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office has reported. In fact, the month-over-month increase for December continues an upward trend thus far since the current fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2017. (Read more »)

North Trail Overlay District extended with eye toward incorporating its incentives into City of Sarasota’s new form-based code

City Commission action includes caveat of sunset extension for five years, in case form-based code is not adopted

It has led to only two projects thus far — and one of those is still in progress. Nonetheless, the Sarasota City Commission has given full support to the crafting of a zoning text amendment that would extend the life of an overlay district originally approved in May 2013 with the hope of spurring more redevelopment on North Tamiami Trail. (Read more »)

County commissioner affirms opposition to tall commercial buildings 2 feet from Siesta Key streets

Alan Maio faces questions during Condo Council meeting about effort to amend island’s zoning regulations

Pressed by two people this week opposed to an initiative calling for shorter street setbacks for new commercial buildings on Siesta Key, Sarasota County Commissioner Alan Maio expanded upon a comment he made during the Jan. 30 commission meeting. (Read more »)

Arts and cultural organizations spend $295 million a year on local goods and services, study shows

National research underscores value of the arts to the community

Arts and cultural organizations in Sarasota County pump about $295 million per year into the local economy through the goods and services they purchase, the latest study by a national organization that supports the arts has found. That was the news Jim Shirley, executive director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, gave the county’s Tourist Development Council (TDC) on Feb. 15. (Read more »)

Giasson reappointed to Public Facilities Financing Advisory Board of Sarasota County

Kevin Cooper’s term on that board extended by three months to keep terms staggered

Almost exactly a month after their most recent appointments to the county’s Public Facilities Financing Advisory Board (PFFAB), the Sarasota County Commission approved another member’s reappointment and extended the term of a second member for three months. (Read more »)

Numerous traffic changes implemented in area of planned roundabouts at 10th and 14th streets

No left turns allowed from 14th street to just north of 10th Street Boat Ramp

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has implemented several traffic changes along U.S. 41 between 14th Street and 10th Street in Sarasota in preparation for the roundabout construction at those streets, City Manager Tom Barwin announced in his Feb. 16 newsletter. (Read more »)

Work of Innocence Project of Florida to be focus of two programs at North Sarasota Library

Events set for March 6 and March 13 at Newtown facility

The Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources Department will host a two-part program in March that will highlight the work of the Innocence Project of Florida, the county has announced. (Read more »)

Sunrise Beach Walks returning to Siesta Key and Nokomis Beach on Wednesdays

Participants get ‘goody bags’ after four walks and another incentive after eight walks

The Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department’s popular Sunrise Beach Walks are coming back at Siesta and Nokomis beaches, the county has announced. They will take place every Wednesday through March 28. (Read more »)

Beach University to return to Siesta Beach March 3

Sessions to be held on two Saturdays and every Wednesday of March

Beach University, a free environmental education program, will return to Siesta Public Beach on March 3, Sarasota County has announced. The program teaches people how to best care for the ecology of the area, a news release explains. (Read more »)

Groundbreaking held for Miss Susie’s Newtown Kitchen

Dining establishment to serve as training center for hospitality careers

The opening of Miss Susie’s Newtown Kitchen moved a big step forward on Feb. 20: The groundbreaking was held at 1741 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Sarasota, project partners announced. The dining establishment will provide hospitality training and jobs to local residents, a news release points out. (Read more »)

SMH selects design/construction firms to build its new $220-million Cancer Institute

First two facilities in the master plan to be completed over the next two to three years

On Feb. 19, the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board selected the nationally known Flad Architects to design its new cancer inpatient and surgical tower and outpatient radiation treatment center, Sarasota Memorial Hospital has announced. (Read more »)