Put a Stop to STOP

Letter from Dave Morgan

BY DAVE MORGAN SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY APR 8, 2017

 “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision.”―Helen Keller

After reading the SRQ Daily last weekend where a letter writer shed light on the failed Starbucks project, which was STOP!’d, I was reminded of one of the last remaining planning puzzle pieces along the South Trail: the Cabana Inn. 

The Cabana Inn, a once highly-polished example of ‘60s Mid Modern sits on the South Trail caddy-cornered to Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Although partially demolished, what little does remain of the Cabana has, via the kindness of its owner, lately become an affordable shelter option for some who would be otherwise homeless. It is after all an active motel, but for the good of our city and my adjacent neighborhood, it is in desperate need of a serious re-imagining.

And it’s not as if they and we have not tried. But each time, through multiple proposals and decades—long attempts at redeveloping the Cabana Inn, every effort has been put to a STOP! Despite collaborative outreach, engaging and gathering input from our neighborhood to create a shared vision for a successful redevelopment of the area, we always find someone saying STOP! The group says it wants more public input? We are the public, and we’ve been there. We’ve asked and argued, begged for help but once STOP steps up to the mic, all bets are off.

Contributing to the organized effort to derail these projects include previous votes by the leadership of STOP! And now another of their own, Jen Ahearn-Koch, running for the Commission seat of their co-founder Susan Chapman will, if elected, likely continue as she did with that North Trail Starbucks—to prefer the disappointing realities of the Cabana Inn as it is, rather than vision with us what could be.

Anyone who reads SRQ Daily should have a pretty fair grasp of the issues facing Sarasota; homelessness, budget shortfalls, land use and urban design, creating jobs, traffic management, and the lack of affordable housing for our City's workforce and aging population. These issues are not unique to our community. But, what is unique to each city across our country is the shared vision they create and implement to solve these challenges. What I can share with you after 15 years of experience as an affordable housing consultant is that the formulation of these shared visions of success do not begin with telling everyone to STOP!

There are three names on the May 9th ballot for City Commissioner. Two, Hagen Brody and Martin Hyde, have made it clear they are no fans of STOP. Vote by Mail ballots are on their way, early voting begins in a couple of weeks, and the election is May 9. For the love of our city, only you can put a STOP to STOP!

Dave Morgan, Sarasota.

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