1 Feb 2019



Approval of array of county agreements clears way for Mote Marine Aquarium project at Benderson Park

First came an abundance of plaudits for Sarasota county staff members and representatives of Mote Marine. Then the County Commission on Jan. 30 voted unanimously to approve an omnibus agreement with the Sarasota-based nonprofit that has been crafted to lead to the construction of a $130-million aquarium and science center at Nathan Benderson Park.

Public comment changes to be made in County Commission’s Rules of Procedure to prevent long delays for scheduled agenda items

The Sarasota County commissioners this week stressed that they want to make sure members of the public have the ability to address them on any topic. Nonetheless, board members said they also do not want to let people who sign up to speak on items not coming before the commission that day to create long delays for others who are present because they do have business on the board agenda.

Advocates of Celery Fields applaud facets of analysis planned in regard to future of county’s adjacent ‘Quads’

Supporters of the ecotourism that has flourished at the Celery Fields in the eastern part of Sarasota County have urged the county commissioners for more than two years to approve only compatible uses if they allow development on adjacent, county-owned property known as the “Quads.”

Issuance of Legacy Trail bonds receives formal County Commission approval

In November 2018, almost 72% of the Sarasota County citizens who cast ballots on the issue approved a referendum that will enable the county to pay for extensions of The Legacy Trail. On Jan. 29, the county commissioners cast the necessary follow-up vote.

In new Circuit Court complaint, Siesta Key Association points to 2017 meeting to show it formally asked City of Sarasota to seek county approval to dredge Big Pass

During a Dec. 20, 2018 hearing, a 12th Judicial Circuit Court judge asked the attorney for the Siesta Key Association (SKA) when the nonprofit had asked the City of Sarasota to seek permission from Sarasota County to dredge Big Sarasota Pass. Kent Safriet of the Tallahassee firm Hopping Green & Sams told Judge Andrea McHugh that the SKA had been asking the city to take that action for a year and a half, and the city had refused. He was referring to the original complaint in the case, which the SKA filed in March 2017.

Orange Hammock Ranch negotiations at standstill

Negotiations over the purchase of the 5,744-acre Orange Hammock Ranch in South County have come to a halt, Sarasota County Commissioner Alan Maio reported during the regular commission meeting on Jan. 29. The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) had taken the lead in the talks, Maio reminded his colleagues.

Sarasota County Administrator Jonathan Lewis marks eventful first year on the job

January was an important month for Jonathan Lewis — and not just because it marked his first anniversary as Sarasota County administrator. In fact, the anniversary was a secondary consideration. The exact date in 2018 when his contract with the County Commission became effective was Jan. 16. When The Sarasota News Leader reminded him about that during a recent interview, Lewis explained the date’s real importance to him: It is the birthday of his wife, Tamara.

Deputy County Attorney Elbrecht wins unanimous board support as replacement for County Attorney DeMarsh

After a two-week delay, it took only about 5 minutes on Jan. 29 for the Sarasota County ommission to give unanimous approval to a motion calling for Deputy County Attorney Frederick J. “Rick” Elbrecht to be the new county attorney. Commissioner Alan Maio repeated the motion he had made on Jan. 15, and Commissioner Michael Moran seconded it.

Lido Beach emergency renourishment project 40% completed by late January, city manager reports

“Those heading out to Lido Beach will enjoy a refreshed beach, which is now providing a much needed buffer between the Gulf of Mexico and nearby public infrastructure,” Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin reported in his Jan. 25 newsletter.

Siesta Seen

Last spring, a group of residents at the Bay Tree Club on the southern end of Siesta Key achieved success after about two-and-a-half years of persistent effort on a project: Sarasota County staff installed a crosswalk between their buildings on the bay side and on the Gulf of Mexico.

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OTHER NEWS (free):

Factors fueling red tide to be topic of Feb. 11 meeting of County Council of Neighborhood Associations

Say I Do Again vow renewal ceremony registration due by Feb. 8 via mail or by Feb. 11 through online process

Public art installation scheduled for Feb. 2 in downtown Sarasota starting about 6:45 a.m.

Annual Sarasota County Fire Fest to be held at Carlton Reserve in Venice on Feb. 2

Morganroths give $5 million to Selby Gardens

Feb. 11 the voter registration deadline for March 12 local elections, supervisor of elections reminding citizens