Today in the SHT we read about the Wednesday Farmer’s Market "start up" problems. Apparently some businesses in the Burns Square area are struggling with access and parking issues during the Market time:
City commissioners tried to address the parking issue when they put together a deal to buy the Orange Dolphin Galleria and replace it with a parking garage on Dolphin Street. But the commissioners backed out of the expensive and unpopular deal.
"The city has really screwed up by listening to the
Elsewhere in the same edition we read about a proposed condo project biting the dust:
Sarasota Main Street LLC's decision to scuttle plans for Washington Place marks what some believe could be a market correction and a shift away from escalating land prices. Sarasota Main Street partner Michael Langton cited rising land prices and construction costs as the primary reasons for abandoning the 69-unit condo project, first proposed in July.
"What's happening in Sarasota is everyone has been getting inflated amounts for land, and it's gotten out of hand in the last six months," Langton said Tuesday. "That's what's killed this deal."
What’s the connection? It seems like the public was absolutely correct in believing that the Dolphin deal was too expensive. We are now seeing projects that are struggling because of high land costs.
We expect our City Commissioners to listen to the public. The public was vocal about the Dolphin deal and the Commissioners listened. Not listening to the public will always prove problematic to elected officials.
This happened recently when City Commissioners voted to give the land owners of Burns Square the Downtown Core zoning allowing 10 story high rise buildings, instead of the agreed upon Downtown Edge zoning that would have kept building heights to 5 stories. The public supported 5 story buildings in this historic area. This is what the public wanted when the Downtown Master plan was reviewed and accepted. This is what the public expected.
Instead, a different direction was taken.
As we have indicated previously, the city survey completed earlier this year noted that in response to the question "I am pleased with the overall direction that the city is taking", responders ranked Sarasota in the 13th percentile compared to cities our size - way below the norm.
In response to the question "The city of Sarasota government listens to citizens", the responders ranked Sarasota in the 27th percentile. Again well below the norm.
Is our government working to listen better? Do they understand why citizens are not pleased with the direction the city is taking? We hope this is happening.
Several important decisions about our city's direction will be made in the next couple months. The Commissioners will have the opportunity to listen and make decisions that will take Sarasota in a direction that is in line with what the public wants and expects. The opportunity is here now.
By listening to the citizens and acting according to the public's wishes, the Commissioners will be applauded. They will certainly not screw up by listening to the public.
The newspaper is a major voice in our community in commenting on public policy. As we all know there are many sides to the newspaper. The editorial side gives honest, well researched opinions about important community issues. The news side reports on issues and they take great care to present all sides of an issue while at the same time dealing with known facts - they do focus on conflict as this is what many readers like to read. It is likely that news stories about conflict are not pleasing to everyone. They do make interesting reading however. Another side of the newspaper is investigative reporting - in depth study and reporting on major issues in our community - large issues that need careful study and policy decisions that really address community needs.
While all of us take issue with the newspaper from time to time, it does serve the community well. It is a significant voice in the community and we would all suffer without this voice.