Spring in Sarasota

City Government


As winter fades and spring arrives, the storm winds emanating from our national political scene continue to swirl throughout the land. In our new reality of minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow, “breaking news” and Twitter updates, citizens can only wonder whether the tropical storm brewing in Washington, D.C. will dissipate or evolve to a full blown political hurricane.  

It is times like these that provide reminders of the often taken for granted stabilizing aspects of life. In a world of increasing uncertainty, the value of friends, family, civility and community may experience a renewal of appreciation. 

This spring, here at City Hall and in most of our amazing institutions in town, all hands remain focused on continuing to build and strengthen our community. Our Sarasota elected officials, their staff, employees, volunteers and the vast majority of our residents continue to believe that place still and always will matter. It’s good to have a great place to walk around and exhale after the TV news.  

Although 3D movies are fun and can also provide an escape, and virtual reality is coming, our geographical and physical places and spaces will always be where life is lived and where most of our human journey takes place.

Here in Sarasota, so many of our physical places feature the year around color of green trees, technicolor flowers and graceful birds, against the backdrop of blue sky, turquoise waters and interesting buildings. With so many areas of beauty in our coastal village, our physical spaces can often transfer us into the realm of joy, and even spirituality.

This spring citizens will begin to see many new place making enhancements, which have been designed to further enrich our quality of place. For example:  

  • A new Multi-Use Recreational Trail trail is now under construction to help better connect pedestrians and bicyclists from Bird Key to St. Armands Circle. 
  • New Boat dock installations and channel dredging are now underway to enhance the 10th Street Boat ramp to keep the Bay and Gulf open and accessible for boaters. This project will also incorporate new technology to help minimize storm water pollution from entering the bay as we strive to have more dolphins and manatees in our future.  
  • The Tony Saprito Fishing Pier is being inspected to make certain it is structurally sound as we plan improvements to enhance this wonderful asset for fishermen and all residents who enjoy being up front and personal with our gulf breezes. 
  • In North Sarasota, the first of Ringling College’s exciting new sound stage buildings should be ready for a ribbon cutting this spring at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Cocoanut Avenue. 
  • For those who live, work or love visiting downtown, a new, free downtown shuttle will begin operating very soon and is our latest experiment in how to move people around our growing downtown without increasing traffic or air pollution.
  • Supplementing these spring 2017 initiatives our talented new planning director Steve Cover will begin on April 12.
  • Momentum for connecting the remaining 8-mile gap of the Legacy Trail bicycle path from downtown Venice to downtown Sarasota continues to build.   
  • Throughout the spring the Sarasota Bay Planning Organization will continue its work on master planning our Bayfront for decades to come.    
  • By the end of spring we expect the Bobby Jones Golf Club master planning will be ready for consideration by the City Commission.   
  • Last, but not least, I am happy to report that it appears that the city, county, business community and philanthropic community are coming to a consensus on how to deal with the challenge of chronic homelessness. We will be working throughout the spring to organize ourselves to pursue a coordinated and systematic approach to dealing with this very difficult and complex challenge. 

As we continue to strengthen our community, everyone is welcome to participate, even if it is just sharing a thought.  

If you would like to have weekly updates on city initiatives, meetings, agendas, upcoming acts at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, or a link to share your thoughts, please consider signing up for our weekly newsletter delivered most Fridays at 3 pm. Sign up for “Briefs from Barwin” by emailing CityNews@sarasotafl.gov. 

So, when Washington or the news gets you down, I might suggest you take a walk around on solid ground, here in one of Florida’s and America’s awesome towns.    

Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s column. As always, your comments on this or any subject are welcome to thomas.barwin@sarasotaFL.gov

Tom Barwin is Sarasota City Manager.

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