Gruters Pushes to Fund Selby Scientific Priorities

Todays News

Photo courtesy Selby Gardens.

Heading into the final weeks of Session, Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said he wants to secure funding for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

He has two big asks for the local institution, filing an appropriations request for $1.8 million for shoreline restoration and protection at Historic Spanish Point, and another request for $1.8 million in order to safeguard Selby Gardens’ world-class collection of orchids and bromeliads in hurricane resilient glasshouses.

The state Senator heaped high praise on leadership for the botanical gardens, especially since the 2014 hire of Jennifer Rominiecki as president and CEO.

“Since Jennifer Rominiecki has taken over, it’s like Disney World,” he said. “It’s very nice, and they’ve done all of it through non-government grants and private fundraising. This is about the state stepping up and making sure they create a safe atmosphere and a resilient one for the research going on there.

The glasshouses would be used at Selby Gardens’ main Sarasota campus, where the plant life has been deemed scientifically significant. 

At the Downtown Sarasota campus, we are currently housing the world's best scientifically documented living collections of orchids and bromeliads in glass houses from the 1970s in the flood zone," Rominiecki told SRQ. "We lost one house during Hurricane Ian, and we need to embark on creating new resilient structures on higher ground to protect this vital research collection for future generations."

Selby Gardens took over Historic Spanish Point in Osprey in 2020. In the funding request there, Rominiecki wrote the funding was needed to reduce stormwater runoff and protect the historic pioneer-era buildings on site.

“This necessary improvement will protect the shoreline on pristine Sarasota Bay, including mangroves, vulnerable to storms and erosion on the shoreline of the 30-acre Historic Spanish Point campus,” she wrote in a request to the Legislature. “The site has two flood zones in the highest risk for annual flooding and one internal flood zone of moderate risk. Shoreline erosion is already present. It is critical now to reduce runoff, improve quality of State waters, and protect historic structures important to the State of Florida.”

Gruters will fight for the funding, along with other budget items as the 60-day regular legislative session winds down, which runs through March 8. The budget is also subject to vetoes by the Governor.

Photo courtesy Selby Gardens.

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