Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Plaza Verdi Swan Song

The city commission allowed the Plaza Verdi plan to slip away last night. The pull out of the Opera made the project too different from the original RFP, resulting in a recommendation from City Attorney Fournier that a new proposal must be considered.

The concept was bold, but in the end there was just too much complexity. All four participants (the city, Ersa Grae, the Opera and the Golden Apple) all had visions of what was needed from their own perspective but not everyone could be accommodated. In the end the Golden Apple and the Opera dropped out.

Like a Verdi opera, the twists and turns of the attempts to turn this property into public parking kept taking unpredictable paths - and ultimately commented on the human condition, our condition and our inability to satisfy everyone.

Commissioner Atkins commented that "We sit down here really dreaming and hoping with great expectations for something major to happen that involves parking, Every time we stick our neck out, somebody chops it off." Andy Dorr, project manager at Ersa Grae said he felt like he was attending his own funeral.

Frustration was apparent all around. Aside from the symbolic death, the real aspects of comedy and tragedy, combined with the frustration of not being able to fulfill dreams provided all the elements of a lively opera. Of course this is real life.

We think that the complexity of the proposal (the physical constraints, construction timing issues, the needs of the Opera and Golden Apple to maximize their income during the relatively short season available) was just too much to get a good grip on.

We wish the Opera and the Golden Apple well as they pursue their future destiny. Both have been (and continue to be) among the great Sarasota institutions that have done so much for our city. We also know that the city will get the needed parking at some point.

We would also like to see the city put more effort into looking at viable ways to reduce the number of cars downtown as this would lessen the parking need and make the downtown more pedestrian friendly and improve the atmosphere (literally and figuratively). We know there is no quick fix, but more attention in this area will pay dividends.

I liked Commissioner Atkins closing statement: "Be prepared for something to happen in downtown Sarasota, for all the nay-sayers out there." Maybe this is a continuing (soap?) opera and we haven’t seen the final act.

More about this in the SHT story.

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