Saturday, December 22, 2007

County Super Majority Requirement Results in Denial of Comp Plan Change

At the Dec 19 County Commission meeting a Comprehensive Plan Amendment was denied because a super majority approval vote was not achieved. Even though three commissioner approved the proposal, but the super majority requirement required four commissioners to approve. This was not achieved.

An interesting "sidebar" is that apparently none of the commissioners was aware of the super majority requirement until after the Board Chair announced the proposal was approved, the applicant was leaving the chambers and then the county attorney indicated that this action required a super majority.

The video of the meeting can be found here. The item is number 10 on the agenda. the video segment is about 6 minutes long.

Friday, December 21, 2007

City Commission Workshop - Sustainability

City Commission
Workshop on Sustainability

January 4th from 2—4 p.m.

City Commission chambers

Join us as we welcome Alderman Mary Ann Smith from the 48th Ward of Chicago to discuss sustainability issues and solutions. Known for her concern for the environment, particularly Chicago's lakefront, Mary Ann represents the City of Chicago on the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives. Formerly she served as vice chair of the City Council Subcommittee on the Chicago Lakefront, as a vice-chair of the Lake Michigan Federation (now the Alliance for the Great Lakes), and a founding member of PCB's Gone. Her leadership on environmental issues earned a United Nations Environment Programme Award for Citizen Action to Protect the Global Environment and a fellowship to study urban planning in several European cities from the U.S./German Marshall.

After the Alderman’s presentation we will hear from local sustainability pioneers and experts in the field of environmental science and policy.

Michael Carlson - experience includes institutional and public sector projects such as local government facilities, public service facilities and educational facilities. As a licensed architect in the state of Florida since 1989, Michael has completed successful projects throughout Sarasota County and the Gulf Coast region. His continuing education is focused on Green Building, and he is one of the first Architects in the state of Florida to achieve the LEED Accredited Professional designation.

Albert Joerger - launched the Sarasota Conservation Foundation in 2003 as a result of his extensive expertise in intelligent conservation and his passion for the Gulf Coast. Mr. Joerger holds a BS in Economics, an MLA in Landscape Architecture and a Environmental Information Science, all from Cornell University. His broad experience includes market research, coastal land use and development, planning for sustainable tourism, environmental consulting on water resources, as well as fundraising and land acquisition for The Nature Conservancy.

Melissa Meehan - Southeast Coastal Organizer for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes responsible energy choices that solve global warming problems and ensure clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.

Speakers Bureau Member from FGBC - The Florida Green Building Coalition is a nonprofit Florida Corporation dedicated to improving the built environment. Our mission is "to provide a statewide Green Building program with environmental and economic benefits." Sarasota recently joined the FGBC Local Green Government Designation initiative.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CALL Michele Mician, Environmental Coordinator at 941-954-2670. Also visit

City Workshop - Green Policy

You are Invited to a

Downtown Green Space

Public Workshop

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Payne Park Auditorium

Your questions and comments are encouraged


The City Commission, at its meeting on October 15, 2007, directed staff to develop a green space plan through a process that includes significant public input reflecting the Downtown as a space for the entire community to convene and include a vision for the Downtown parks and streetscapes.

Workshop Outline

  • Process

  • Direction and Scope

  • Plans, Codes and Existing Inventory

  • Managing the Urban Forest

  • Green” Paving

  • Financial Sustainability

  • Public Questions and Comments

Further Information

Contact John Burg with the Department of Planning and Redevelopment at 954-4195 extension 4214 or e-mail at:

Thursday, December 20, 2007


An article in Newsweek describes some of the pressures faced by city and county planners here in Sarasota and elsewhere.

Urban Planner: A Day in the Life
By Marty Nemko

You're a planner for a midsize city, and, rather than filling the distant suburbs with minimansions, you're eager to redevelop faded urban areas. That approach will require fewer new roads and make better use of existing resources. So you've solicited proposals from developers and selected one.

Now the real work begins. Today, you're reviewing geographic information system maps and other computer-based data to predict how many city services will be needed, from lampposts to libraries to fire hydrants. What mix of parking garages, additional bus service, and other transportation should be required? What about plug-in shared electric cars? You work with the mayor's office to figure out how to extract as many freebies from the developer as possible, things like subsidized low-income-housing units, wireless Internet for the community, and money for the local schools. You call the developer to float the proposal. He's furious and quickly turnsthe conversation to demanding variances in the building codes and zoning regulations. You knew that was coming.

You get off the phone and weigh the impact of the various proposals on all the people affected. You need to get out of the office, so you visit one of the proposed building sites to mull over the options firsthand. Finally, it's back to your office for a phone call with an economist, who can provide some figures to plug into the first-draft budget you'll start on tomorrow.

The official workday ends at 5 p.m., but tonight, you need to attend a public hearing on the project. Everybody has a complaint. Environmentalists warn that wetlands will be destroyed. Preservationists worry that historic buildings might get torn down. Supporters insist that the community desperately needs redevelopment. Your job is simply to present the data. It's up to the politicians to decide whether to build or not.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


An interesting comment on sustainability:

Toronto's poet laureate argues that environmental sustainability cannot be achieved until people become better neighbors and create better communities.

"I shall make a plea for the salvific aspect of the act of walking. Yes, salvific. Not just to save the environment, but to save ourselves, and not just by regarding the environment.

We will not save the environment until we have found a reason for living together.

Until we discover civic care in each other, until we restore the city to its definition as a place of unexpected intimacies, not just as a place of amenities, convenience, business, and entertainment, we will not have sustainability.

For sustainability is about replacing an ethic of entitlement with an ethic of sufficiency. And sufficiency is what we find in each other.

In an era that glorifies independence and even inter-dependence we are shy of admitting the awful truth: that is, we are dependent on each other, not by connectedness, but because we are one body breathing the same air.

It is not cars that are the enemy of the pedestrian. The enemy is the absence of civic communion, the lack of empathic citizenship, our inability to see cohabitation as that place where we enjoy ourselves, by enjoying others."

From Planetizen

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Florida Maritime Museum - Cortez

The My Florida History Blog has a nice post about todays opening of the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez.


Recent news tells the story of a Nevada resident apparently determined to improve his view by removing trees - a lot of trees.

HENDERSON, NEV. -- Cloaked by darkness, a saw tucked under his jacket, Douglas Hoffman skulked through suburbia, methodically killing trees. He severed some. Others he sliced just enough so they would slowly die. In a year's time, authorities said, he wiped out more than 500 trees near an upscale retirement community just south of Las Vegas.

Greenery, he had complained to a homeowners committee, was blocking his view of the Strip.

In November, a jury convicted Hoffman, 60, on 10 charges in the destruction of nearly $250,000 worth of mesquite and other trees. He will likely face sentencing next month and could get as much as 35 years in prison.

This is an interesting commentary on life in America.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dancing Cars

Cars whizz past the Dance

Sarasota's latest version of the Season of Sculpture is generating interest and comment.

On of the more controversial pieces is named the Dance - it could be subtitled cars interacting. The piece is by Dustin Shuler.

Another of Shuler's controversial transportation sculptures is described in a NPR story.

A review of the display can be found here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Burns Square Chalk Festival

Burns Square recently sponsored a street art event featuring chalk drawings. Artists ranging from young to old and amateur to professional participated. The drawings were amazing.

Denise Kowal, the organizer, has indicated this would be an annual event.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sarasota Architectural Foundation Invite


Revive Rudolph's Riverview –
Campaign For Preservation & Recommended Adaptive Use Design

When: Thursday, November 29th, 2007
Time: 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Where: Roskamp Center for the Arts & Humanity
1226 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

SAF will discuss the campaign for preserving Paul Rudolph's Riverview High School, including a showing of the Metropolis film Site Specific.

Mark Smith, AIA FL President and member of the Revive Rudolph’s Riverview Committee will discuss the program.

The team that submitted the recommended adaptive use design – RMJM Hillier with Diane Lewis Architect and Beckelman+ Capalino, LLC, New York, NY, with Seibert Architects, Sarasota, FL – will present their proposal for the Riverview Music Quadrangle.

There will also be a display of the proposals by the other three finalist teams:
Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Atlanta, GA, in association with John McAslan + Partners, London; Mark S. Kauffman, Developer, The ADP Group, Architects, Sarasota, FL; and The Folsom Group and TOTeMS Architecture, Inc. Sarasota, FL.

This event is free and open to the public.

If you have any questions, please contact:
Samantha Allard
Sarasota Architectural Foundation

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rudolph's Riverview Closer to Being Saved

Harold Bubil has commented on progress made this last week toward saving the Paul Rudolph designed Riverview high School. The school board is in the process of rebuilding the entire campus, but has allowed proposals for saving the Rudolph building if the cost is not increased and the timetable is not delayed.

Harold's column says in part:
There's still a long way to go, but the effort to save the Paul Rudolph-designed buildings at Riverview High took a big step this week.

The Sarasota Architectural Foundation's Revive Rudolph's Riverview committee presented proposals to the Sarasota County School Board, which is building a new complex at the 42-acre site on Proctor Road.

Five architect-developer teams participated in the Request for Proposals process; one team withdrew. The four remaining proposals were ranked in order and presented to the School Board on Tuesday.

The first-ranked proposal, which called for an adaptive use that would join the historic and new RHS buildings, was dismissed by School Board members because it did not fit the criteria set forth by the board: the Rudolph project could not delay or add cost to the new RHS project.

That leaves the second-ranked proposal -- something called the Riverview Music Quadrangle.

Submitted by the design team of RMJM Hillier, with Diane Lewis Architect and Beckelman+Capalino of New York, and Seibert Architects of Sarasota, this plan calls for "a collaborative environment for new and existing Sarasota music activities," according to a statement by the Revive Rudolph's Riverview committee. "It would complement the Riverview High School and other Sarasota County school music programs, and it would provide studio space and performance venues for community groups and orchestras."

This and other proposals will be shown to the public on at 5 PM, Thursday (Nov 29) at the Roskamp Center on the North Trail.

More information can be found at the SAF Revive Riverview site.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

New Historical Marker

Recently Sarasota unveiled a new Historical Marker.

This marker recognizes the first motel that was built on the beach on Lido Key. It was constructed in 1950.

Today it is a condominium with individual owners who rent their units to visitors. The owners have indicated they wish to keep the character of the 50's motel intact.

The scale and design of the Gulf Beach Resort Motel does remind visitors of an earlier, slower lifestyle enjoyed by Florida west coast visitors.

The motel is located on Ben Franklin Drive, Lido Key.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thaxton on Water

October 25, 2007

One can't help but notice that: Atlanta is running out of water, Florida is in an ongoing drought, Mosaic phosphate mining, if allowed to proceed, would use up copious amounts of water and possibly compromise our fresh water supply while only providing back 10% of its product to a dying agricultural industry in Florida.

We ignore the implications of a limited water supply at our peril.

With this in mind, I bring you some notes I took at a fascinating talk given by Jon Thaxton on water, October 13, at the First Methodist Church as part of their environmental series, downtown Sarasota.


"Sarasota's economy and environment must both be healthy to survive."

Jon Thaxton (County Commissioner) has been ringing the alarm bill since 1990. (I recall Horace Sutcliffe, the state hydrologist, saying that all the water to southwest Florida was compromised because of the sump action of the orange, Disney and phosphate industries bringing salt water intrusion into our freshwater aquifer. That was in 1975.) The Florida Aquifer is the largest fresh water cavern in the world!

We have estimated a per capita need for water. Sarasota County uses less per capita than most any other county in the state, 80-86 gallons per person per day, while the state average per person is about 126 gallons. Water charges in the county are on a graduated schedule so the first 4,000 gallons are at the cheapest rates with prices going up as one uses more. Some questions we must ask ourselves:

* How much water will be needed for the people who are expected to move here?
* Estimate drought tolerance for our water system - factoring in rain and population fluctuations throughout the year.
* Then look for new water sources; figure out how much to charge.
* Approve and manage future growth appropriately.
* Up until now, Sarasota figures out its water needs and costs after growth arrives.

Currently, Sarasota County has a diverse set of water supplies. We can't rely on surface ground water. We can't rely solely on the aquifer as it needs rest to be recharged. We feasibly have enough water to take us to 2018-2022. It takes about 8 years to bring new sources on line (permits, put in lines, etc.) after it has been identified.

Sarasota's newest source is to tap the fresh water going into Dona & Roberts Bays. This requires a balancing act to take fresh water from Cow Pen Slough while restoring the estuary where much energy has been expended to bring it back from the brink by restoring wetlands.

Historically Manatee County built a long term water source while Sarasota allowed wells and septic tanks. But now, Sarasota, Manatee & Charlotte counties are all looking for new water sources. An interim water supply is being tapped - the Peace River - taking 36 million gallons of water a day. Sarasota receives one of the largest takes from the river. The Peace River is close to running out of water by having water demand that exceeds supply.

The budget needs to build schools, parks, roads, water, judicial systems are 50% of the need. We plan for an absolute minimum. Under normal conditions, we can meet 95% of our water needs. But we are in a drought. Cyclically these can last 2 to 5 years. According to the Peace River Water Authority all reserves will have been consumed by January. Last year at that time we had millions of gallons in reserve, next year we will likely have none.

Sarasota has two different kinds of water storage: surface water & underground. No, we won't run out of water, but we will run out of cheap water and we will harm the environment by taking the portion it needs to survive for ourselves. As for the aquifer, when we take out more than too much - then we invite salt water intrusion and degradation of our future water supply.

SWFMD (Southwest Water Management District) has said Sarasota County must team up with local counties who have very different growth management philosophies. We will have no say in their water usage. This proposition is not being run by the voters. Is this a deal we want?

The days of cheap water in Southwest Florida are gone. All water sources in the future will be more expensive. This should be no surprise as we have known that this was coming.

Consider that we used up five years of stored water in the first nine months of this year. That supply for us is gone. If the rains stay away and the drought continues into next year, we will have no storage reserves going into next year's wet season. What's in our future? A moratorium on all watering of landscaping. Thousands of dollars invested in plantings will be lost. Only a very small percentage (maybe 5%) of our potable water is used for drinking and cooking. Up to 40-60% could be used for landscaping, golf courses, swimming pools. It's going to take some political will to change our habits and policies.

What can be done? Desalinization? Not yet. It's expensive can use up 2 gallons of water for every drinkable gallon produced. We destroy wetlands and waterways by dumping the byproduct: brine.

All the old artesian wells that I knew of as a child are gone. Every 1st Magnitude Florida spring is now polluted due to nutrients.

Cisterns are an option. Used in households here only a few decades ago - the water could be used for bathing and watering yards, flushing toilets. At one time in Key West, it was their only water supply. Re-use water could be used on golf courses, etc. Have buildings save rainwater from the roofs in lakes (in town, in water vaults built into the building).

Not only Florida needs a water policy - the whole country does. It's a national priority. Don't fool yourself that because Florida is tropical, that the 50-60 inches of rainfall a year is abundant. It turns out to be just the right amount to keep our particular environment charged - our plants and animals require this amount to survive.

Thaxton went on to say that "historically we have done a pathetic job with water planning." And, we can't treat this resource the next 50 years the way we have treated it for the past 50 years.

Do you hear the alarm?

[Submitted by Jude Levy]

Monday, October 22, 2007

From SOS Steering Committee


Due to the large outpouring of pubic support for greenspace in our downtown, on October 15th the City Commission voted to request that city staff develop a strategic greenspace plan with significant public input that includes a vision for the city's downtown parks and streetscapes.

Thank you to all who attended the Commission meeting, sent emails, made phone calls and forwarded the info on to your friends. The Commissioners heard the importance you place on downtown greenspace and responded positively. We will keep you advised of the plan's progress as your voice will be an important part of that process.

Again, many thanks for your continued support in keeping Sarasota green and beautiful.

Save Our Sarasota Steering Committee

[If you would like to be on the Save Our Sarasota e-mail newslist, send an e-mail to and ask to be on the list]

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Downtown Greening

Roger Birkel of Selby Gardens recently wrote a letter to the editor (SHT) concerning a proposed Sarasota Green Policy:

As President of Selby Gardens, and a neighbor of downtown Sarasota, I have had the good fortune to work with many fine citizens interested in the creation of a vibrant downtown business district.

As merchants, developers, residents, and visitors, they share a vision of downtown that is a dynamic and thriving heart of the community, a place to conduct business, to shop, to dine, a place where people gather in the daytime or evening to socialize, a place that draws tourists and residents from our neighborhoods to enjoy a special moment in a beautiful urban environment. Downtown Sarasota can sing with beauty and purpose, and enhance the quality of life for the entire community.

I believe there is a window of opportunity right now to approach the future of downtown Sarasota with vision and creativity and cooperation, to implement the dream we all share.

Success will depend upon many things, but at its most basic level it will be a sense of aesthetics, of “place making,” that drives our urban renaissance. To put it simply, people will gather in places that are beautiful and comfortable.

The human experience cries out for a connection to nature. We are more comfortable when surrounded by “green”.

At Selby Gardens I see this basic truth played out everyday.

However, in many people’s minds there exists a dichotomy between the built environment and the natural environment. One is bare, hard, hot, and alienating, while the other is lush, cool and comfortable.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Great cities of distinction like Chicago and Toronto are showing that it is possible to combine the two and create magnificent destinations.

And there are added benefits to increasing the prevalence of parks, plantings, trees, green walls and green roofs in the core of downtown Sarasota. Vegetation cools the air, slows rainwater runoff, absorbs carbon dioxide, produces oxygen, offers habitat, and improves the aesthetic quality. What more can you ask?

There is one more thing that we can and should ask. Developers, planners, business owners and others often voice a concern that green design compromises the merchant’s prerogative.
Can a downtown sidewalk accommodate a merchant’s need for seating and visibility and be a greenscape at the same time?

Recent studies show that trees, and greenscape in general, increase people’s positive perception of central business districts, causing them to stay longer and spend more. Wouldn’t it benefit everyone if we collaborate to ensure that the addition of plantings does not hinder a merchant’s success but in fact increases profitability?

At present, the addition of paving and hardscape to our main downtown streets is the default strategy in the City of Sarasota Downtown Master Plan. The term “urban character” is used to advocate a reduction in greenery of all kinds. This should not be so.

We must strive for the best in urban design and living. When coupled with our continuing commitment to our spectacular and precious natural environment, we will realize a community that supports all of our citizens and neighborhoods, indeed all life, in the best possible way.

Roger Birkel
The writer is president and CEO of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Payne Park Opening

The Sarasota Herald Tribune's coverage of the opening of the city's new Payne Park was disappointing. An article about "politics" and an opinion piece about the displacement of the long time trailer home residents summed up the event for our local newspaper. Both were interesting but missed the point of the amazing transformation of this piece of land into great green space for our entire community. An editorial on Oct 9 provided a much better description of the festive mood:

In an age of budget battles and cutbacks, the opening of a new park is one of the few developments that can truly bring a community together.

And so it was Saturday, as Sarasota celebrated its new Payne Park.

Thousands of people of different incomes, ethnicities and ages -- natives as well as newcomers -- mingled to enjoy the festivities. The all-day party, with music, food, free skateboarding, a movie and exhibitions, was a cooperative effort between city staff, neighborhood volunteers and sponsors. They did an outstanding job.

Stan Zimmerman wrote an e-mail to city staff that came much closer to what everyone attending the grand opening on Saturday felt:

Michael (Raposa): Before I even shower, I'm sitting down to express my profound thanks to you and your folks for making the Payne Park Grand Opening a phenomenal success.

Several observations were striking.

1. The Number Of Kids. The skateboard park was jammed all day. Toddlers were rolling down down the grass of Duane's Mountain. Pre- teens were cruising the sidewalks. Babies were oogling from sidewalks. More kids than I have ever seen in one place in Sarasota. EVER. The average age of folks attending this event reflected so well the TRUE city demographic – average age is coming down.

2. Re-Acquaintances: I heard at least four times, "My word, I haven't seen you in twenty years!" Hugs and smiles. It happened to me twice, smiling faces I thought lost in my past were smiling anew. This event brought folks not only out, but together. In our world of "bowling alone," the stereotype was shattered.

3. Reawakening of Hope: Alta Vista gave away a half-ton of fruit today. Just shy of 1,000 pounds. Kids learned to fly kites, I helped a few myself.

There was a general outbreak of kindness today I haven't seen in town in...well...maybe never. 7-Up Cake, bet you never had that before, baked in an old tradition, and offered up with pride. This was event like no other. Without elbows, nastiness or tears. Spontaneous good will permeated the air. As the movie began, a thousand people jammed together to enjoy a night under the stars.

You helped make this happen. Your staff helped make this happen.

And tonight, I and many others are so glad to live here, where magic can happen.

Please circulate this e-gram to all the city employees who gave their time and attention to create this exquisite event. Without all of their help, none of this would have happened.


A big THANK YOU to Stan and all the community residents that also worked very hard to make this wonderful day happen. Another THANK YOU to Stan for capturing the feelings and happenings in words.

Pictures of the Payne Park Opening can be found on th City's Website.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Help Establish A Sarasota Green Policy

What: City Commission will discuss preserving and enhancing greenspace
When: Monday, October 15, during the 6:00 PM Session
Where: City Hall - First Street and Orange Avenue
What You Can Do: Attend to show support and email the Commissioners

At this meeting, we will have a unique opportunity to increase the quality of our lives by urging the Commission to preserve and enhance our greenspace downtown as well as develop an overall green policy for the city, including the protection of our coastal waters.

For simplicity, greenspace refers to trees, flowers, shrubs and grass.

We are asking for a new Green Policy that clearly articulates the importance of greenspace, providing that the destruction of any public greenspace be only a last resort, not a first option, and then only with appropriate mitigation.

It is essential that we show widespread community support for this initiative.

Ways you can help include:
  • Attending on Oct. 1st and bringing your friends and neighbors with you,
  • Forwarding this message to your friends and neighbors via email, hard copy and word-of-mouth,
  • Emailing the Commissioners (addresses below) to express your support for more greenspace
  • Calling 954.4115 and asking to leave one message for all five Commissioners.
Thanks for your help in letting our Commissioners know how important this issue is to Sarasota's residents.

SOS Steering Committee

Addresses to click and send:

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pelican Press Endorses Super Majority

From the Pelican Press

Super majority amendment is good government

Come November - and much sooner actually as absentee ballots are being mailed out this week - voters will be faced with a chance to require significant changes in city and county government, some of them possibly confusing.

But one issue is simple. It would require a super majority of at least four commission votes instead of three to permit increased height or density changes in our comprehensive plans. ...

The Pelican Press strongly believes the community of Sarasota deserves the added protection of super majorities on comprehensive plan changes in both the city and the unincorporated area of the county.

Read the entire editorial here.

City Charter Amendments - Vote Yes

Dear Friends,

Save Our Sarasota's Steering Committee has endorsed four amendments to our City Charter that will be on the November 6th ballot. As a public interest group, we do not endorse candidates. However, we feel these amendments are important enough to the future of our City to merit our support and encourage your support as well.

The amendments will give Sarasota citizens a stronger voice in growth decisions and provide local campaign finance reform.

A super majority amendment would require the vote of four of five City Commissioners when changing the City's Comprehensive Plan to permit an increase in height or density.

Three campaign finance reform amendments would:
  • Lower the campaign contribution limit from $500 to $200, bringing the City of Sarasota in line with Sarasota County;
  • Allow contributions only from individuals, thereby preventing corporations from bundling multiple contributions from several business entities; and
  • Change campaign finance reporting dates so that the press and public learn where the money is coming from before they vote, not after.
Sarasotans for Good Government, chaired by Susan Chapman, has been formed to support passage of these Charter amendments. If you would like to contribute toward the cost of signs and mailers to promote these measures, you may send a check,* limited to $200 per person, to:

Sarasotans for Good Government Campaign Account
46 Palm Avenue South,
Sarasota, FL 34236

If you would like a sign for your yard or are able to volunteer, please send an e-mail with your request and it will be forwarded to Sarasotans for Good Government.

Please vote Yes on November 6th and forward this to others who care about our city.

SOS Steering Committee

*No corporate checks. If check is for more than $100, please note occupation.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sarasotans for Good Government Political Committee.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Payne Parl Opening Day - Oct 6

Sarasota, FL: The public is invited to attend the grand opening of Payne Park Sat., October 6, 2007 noon – 10pm.

The event, hosted by the City of Sarasota along with area neighborhood associations and Sarasota County, is family friendly and will include a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1pm, live bands ranging from rock to symphonic, food vendors, a skateboard exhibition, a dance competition, a children’s play area, a multitude of exhibitors and free tennis. The day will be capped with a showing of a popular motion picture on a two-story movie screen. The park is free.

Payne Park is Sarasota’s long awaited signature park with 29 acres of beautiful landscaping, located on the edge of downtown. During the past year of construction, 420 new trees were added to the park, 13, 151 shrubs and plants, four flowing fountains, a skateboard clubhouse, a half-mile running/walking path and three additional tennis courts.

The grand opening of Payne Park fulfills the dream of the Payne Family, who donated the property to the City of Sarasota for use as a public park. In 1923, a public “work day” was held and the community built Payne Park. Through the years, the park was the site of spring training baseball and even a mobile home park. About seven years ago, the City began honoring the Payne Family’s request for a true public park by designing Phase I of Payne Park.

The county-wide penny surtax funded the $8.8 million park. Since 2000, a one-percent sales tax was collected throughout Sarasota County and earmarked specifically for Phase I of Payne Park, which voters approved as part of the penny surtax referendum. Phase II of Payne Park, which would include an amphitheatre, a new auditorium and a children’s play area, is slated to be funded by the upcoming renewal of the county-wide penny surtax. The penny surtax renewal is on the ballot Tues., November 6th.

The fee for a daily skateboard pass will be waived for the grand opening. Skateboarders must have a signed waiver in order to participate.

The Mayors Feed the Hungry Program will be on site collecting canned goods, preparing for the upcoming holiday season. All canned goods including soups, meats, and vegetables will be accepted.
Payne Park is located at 2000 Adams Lane. It is bordered by East Avenue to the north, Laurel Street to the south, School Avenue to the east and U.S. 301 to the west.

Parking is available in the Sarasota County parking garage located at Ringling Boulevard and School Avenue.

Schedule of Events

Noon: Suncoast Concert Band

1pm: Ribbon cutting ceremony - Official Payne Park opening at East Ave. and Adams Lane. Sarasota High School Marching Band - leads the crowd around the half-mile trail and stops at the tennis courts

2pm: Ribbon cutting ceremony - Official opening of three additional tennis courts

2:30pm: Papa Schmitz Band (Main Stage)

3:30pm: Concordia Praise Band (Side Stage)

3:45 pm: Big Night Out (Main Stage)

4pm: Jazz Juvenocracy (Payne Auditorium)

5pm: Dance Competition (Auditorium)

5:45pm: Concordia Praise Band (Side Stage)

6pm: Radio Free Carmela and the Transmitters (Main Stage)

7:15pm: Los Independientes del Vallenato

2pm – All Day: Free tennis Skateboard exhibitions Payne Park history slide show (Auditorium) Payne Family history (Auditorium) Food vendors

8pm: “Night at the Museum”, presented outdoors by the Sarasota Film Festival.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Protecting Sarasota's Waters

Help Protect Our Waters
Follow the Sarasota County Fertilizer Regulations Now

Fertilizer ordinance information:

On August 27th the Sarasota County Commission took a huge step to protect our waters by passing the strongest ordinance in the state to control the use of fertilizer. The Training related part of the ordinance does not take effect until 180 days after it is filed with the state.

We urge that homeowners and lawn care professionals begin today to follow the other new regulations now.

Here is what you should do now:

  • Do not apply fertilizer with Nitrogen and Phosphorus to your lawns during the summer rainy months of June through September.
  • Do not apply any fertilizer within 10 feet of any body of water. If you live on the bay or the gulf, we suggest you use a larger setback: 25 to 50 feet.
  • When you do apply fertilizer in spring or fall, use a blend that has at least 50% timed or slow release and apply no more than 2 lbs nitrogen and 1/4 lb phosphorus (if needed) per 1000 sq. feet per application. Four pounds nitrogen and 1/2 pound phosphorus are the maximum allowed per year.

Here is what you can do for future:

  • Remove as much sod as possible in favor of beds of Florida Native plants or Perennial Peanut or Sunshine Mimosa (they need no fertilizer or watering once established), mulched with Melaluca (an invasive plant) mulch (do not use Cypress mulch as wetland trees are cut down and ground up to make it).
  • If you live near a pond or other water element, plant aquatic plants at the edges. Some decorative types are: Pickerelweed, Duck Potato, Canna Lily and Water Lily. Grants are available from Sarasota County, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and Southwest Florida Water Management District.

These things will help to jump-start restoration of our waters, bays and gulf.

Note: Melaluca Mulch may be purchased at Troy’s Tropics, Albritton’s Nursery, Florida Native Plant Nursery and others. Florikan makes the fertilizer blend.

For more information contact:

Healthy Gulf Coalition Ph: 906-8176;

Sierra Club Ph: 951-6084;

Sarasota County NEST program Ph: 861-0929;

Beautiful Ponds, Inc Ph: 488-1942;

Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Ph: 955-8085

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Hazzard Fountain

This fountain is located in front of the Municipal Auditorium. In a city brochure describing the Municipal Auditorium, the fountain is described as follows.
In 1940, Maine shoe manufacturer R. P. Hazzard gifted the city of Sarasota with a lighted fountain designed by Frank Martin (son
of Auditorium architect, Thomas Reed Martin).
Built by renowned artisan Louis Larsen, the fountain was the auditorium's "crown jewel."

Widening of US 41 (Tamiami Trail) eventually
forced the fountain's removal. After years in storage, it graced the Ringling Museum entrance until changes there banished it to storeroom obscurity once again.

The only Art Deco-style fountain of its kind in public ownership in the U. S. today, the Hazzard Fountain was rescued by the city, restored and returned to its original site in front of the Auditorium in 1995.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Smart Growth and Living in the Suburbs

There is an interesting series of articles concerning smart growth in recent issues of the LA Weekly. This issue spotlights the neighborhoods where some of the most well known smart growth planners live. Not quite smart growth areas:

Do As We Say, Not As We Do
Smart growth’s biggest boosters still love suburban living

If any one principle provides the underpinning for smart growth, it’s density — putting multistory homes around rail stations, on bus corridors and at the heart of urbanized areas.So why are so many smart-growth advocates avoiding density in their own lives?

Take Henry Cisneros, a board member with Smart Growth America. The onetime head of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development came to Los Angeles a decade ago to work for the Spanish-language channel Univision — and immediately found a home in the plush, gated community of Bel Air Crest.

Cisneros, who now runs a company that builds entry-level housing, says that when his family moved, it was thinking heavily about crime — the 1997 North Hollywood bank shootout and the slaying of Ennis Cosby, the son of actor Bill Cosby. He also insists that he was not the driving force behind the decision on where to live.

“It’s the place my wife found,” he says. “We didn’t know the community very well. It’s what she chose, and given that I traveled a lot, and we did not know L.A., I felt it was the right thing to do by the family at the time.”

Cisneros now splits his time between L.A. and San Antonio, leaving his daughter and son-in-law as the main occupants.

Many other high-density housing advocates have also avoided the multistory lifestyle they say Los Angeles so desperately needs.

Take developer Nick Patsaouras, a onetime board member with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority who heads the firm Polis — Greek for “city.” Patsaouras, who designs apartment buildings around rail stations, lives in a single-family neighborhood in Tarzana and would need to walk one and four-fifths miles from his hillside home to find the nearest bus.

Then there’s Los Angeles Planning Commissioner Mike Woo, founder of the Smart Growth China Institute, which urges the largest nation in the world to embrace “sustainable transportation and urban planning alternatives instead of duplicating the mistakes of the developed world.”

Woo lives on a hillside in Silver Lake where every home is zoned R-1 — a planning designation meant to keep apartments and condos far away. “This is one of the best neighborhoods in L.A. — other than [its lack of] bus access,” he says.

Consider also Pasadena architect Stefanos Polyzoides, a guru of new urbanism, who has designed transit-oriented housing developments around the Metro Gold Line. Polyzoides lives in a leafy section of Pasadena less than a block from San Marino — which prohibits all construction of apartments. His street has not only restrictive single-family zoning but also signs that bar anyone from parking without a permit.

Polyzoides, who has not only a house but also an 83-year-old Caltech observatory on his land, gives a pithy explanation for his low-density lifestyle choice: “I can afford it,” he says. “And (b), I think I’m doing a tremendous favor to my city by adopting a historic building that I am taking care of.”

More on this story can be found here.

Another story in the series is titled:

Peddling Smart Growth
Call your project “smart” — even when it isn't — and get millions in public funds.

It, too, is a good read.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sarasota County Urban Forestry Program Receives Recognition

From Sarasota County News:

Sarasota County Named Outstanding Urban Forestry Program

For the second consecutive year, the Sarasota County Urban Forestry program has received a top statewide award. Today, it was named Outstanding Urban Forestry Program at the statewide Trees Florida conference in Palm Harbor.

Last year, the county received the Tree City of the Year Award at the annual conference. Both awards were presented to Urban Forestry Manager Demetra McBride by Trees Florida, a coalition of representatives from the Florida Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, the Florida Urban Forestry Council, the Florida Division of Forestry and the University of Florida Extension.

The Trees Florida 2007 awards are presented for outstanding efforts to plan, plant and protect urban and community forests throughout Florida. The Urban Forestry division of Public Works was particularly recognized for its outstanding people, projects, techniques, education and outreach and management of natural resources with special regard for Floridas urban forests.

In presenting the award at todays luncheon, Trees Florida Chairman Michael Conner said that Sarasota Countys green infrastructure programs focusing on the use of the urban forest as a bio-utility was the decisive factor in selecting the county program for the statewide honor.

"In 2005, the Sarasota County Commission directed the Urban Forestry Program to expand its management plan beyond mere aesthetic use of the community's forest," McBride noted. "The Forestry Program employs a small, committed group of skilled and talented arborists, who have distinguished this program since 1988. This award recognizes the vision of the county's leadership, and our hard work and ingenuity, to promote and manage the urban forest as a utility and as an essential element of sustainable growth."

Previous, recent Outstanding Urban Forestry Program award recipients included the cities of Plantation, Hollywood and Marco Island.

The Sarasota County Urban Forestry division is the steward for the countys urban forest, representing trees found in the wild, in parks, on beaches, in the county rights of way, medians and thoroughfares, and along waterways and canopy roads. The division manages about 54,000 trees throughout the county, including more than 113 street tree and neighborhood street tree projects and 64 certified canopy roads.

For more information about the Urban Forestry division, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000 or visit

Sarasota County's urban forestry program is also mentioned prominently in the latest issue of the National League of Cities publication "Nation Cities Weekly".

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Changing Face of Ringling

Two buildings that harken back to the days of John Ringling still survive on the street that carries his name 80 years later.

The building at 1727 Ringling (La Casa Apartments) was built in 1925 and remains an apartment building today.

Next to it is Hotel Ranola. Originally an apartment building, it is now a boutique hotel. It was built in 1926.

Towering over these buildings is the condo portion of the Rivo on Ringling - an 18 story mixed use project.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Do Planners Become NIMBYs?

A story in the Tuscon Citizen begins:

My Tucson: I love infill - just not in my backyard

It's a dark day when an urban planner must admit to being a NIMBY.

Any Tucsonan recognizes the "Not in My Backyard" folks who object to development in proximity to them, or anywhere in town, for that matter.

During my years at the Pima County Planning Department, staff wagered on the winner of the "Newest NIMBY in Town" award.

At public meetings to garner local input on development, invariably someone would grab the microphone and accuse us of ruining this town.

The grand winner was a woman who had moved here from Michigan only seven days prior, outraged that we would plan additional residential development.

She made an impassioned plea for shutting the gates before her week-old small-town lifestyle was changed forever.

Should have done it.

The rest of the story can be found here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

World Monument Fund Tabs Riverview High as One of the World's 100 Most Endangered Sites

From a World Monument Fund press release today:

For Immediate Release—New York, NY, June 6, 2007 . . .

The 2008 World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites was announced today by Bonnie Burnham, president of the World Monuments Fund (WMF), the nonprofit organization that, for more than 40 years, has helped save hundreds of endangered architectural and cultural sites around the world. This year’s list highlights three critical man-made threats: political conflict, unchecked urban and industrial development, and, for the first time, global climate change.

Announced every two years, the WMF Watch List acts as a call to action, drawing international public attention to threatened cultural heritage sites across the globe. The Watch List is assembled by an international panel of experts in archaeology, architecture, art history, and preservation. For many historic sites, inclusion on the List is the best, and sometimes the only, hope for survival.

One of the sites listed is "Main Street Modern", a catchall phrase denoting mid-century modern architecture. A specific site pointed out is Paul Rudolph's Riverview High School in Sarasota:

Main Street Modern
Various Locations, United States, 1945 – 1975

Most communities in the United States have at least one public building designed in the Modern idiom. Whether community centers, schools, libraries, or religious institutions, these buildings represent an important shift in the history of twentieth-century American architecture when Modernism was chosen over traditional styles in order to project a national image of progress. More than residential or commercial buildings, it is the civic architecture of Post-World War II America that retains the early Modernist agenda––as conceived in Europe during the interwar years––to democratize design and society.

For example, Modern design principles were used to create schools that reflected the ideal that all children should have equal access to quality education. European émigrés like Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe––all former Bauhaus leaders––as well as the architects they helped train, such as Paul Rudolph, I.M. Pei, and lesser-know designers, created many of the icons of Modern architecture, including the Whitney Museum of Art, Seagram Building, and Yale University Art and Architecture Building. They were also the architects responsible for many of the everyday Modern structures that are now integral parts of the American main street.

The work of these designers was united by certain core principles, including a departure from traditional forms, the integration of arts and design disciplines, and the use of industrial materials and innovative technologies. Physically embodying these core principles, the architecture of “Main Street Modern” is typically characterized by simple, geometric or abstract forms, machine-made components, and new expressions of space, such as the use of glass walls that remove the visual barrier between exterior and interior.

The primary threats faced by Modern architecture are demolition or inappropriate renovations and the technical challenges of conserving the experimental materials and innovative building systems used in their construction. These two factors pose an immediate threat to many mid-twentieth-century buildings. However, the greatest threat is perhaps public apathy––a lack of consensus or confidence––that buildings of the recent past can be important enough to be preserved for the future. This could be because the public feels alienated from the theories and intellectual concepts that informed Modern architecture and because it will take additional time and research to understand how these buildings fit into the continuum of American architectural history.

There are a number of significant “Main Street Modern” buildings threatened with demolition or degradation right now, including Paul Rudolph’s Riverview High School (1957) in Sarasota, Florida and Marcel Breuer’s Grosse Pointe Public Library (1953) in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan.

The world continues to watch the threat of demolition of Rudolph's Riverview High School building.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Urban Forestry

An interesting letter to the editor from Sunday's SHT:

Article published Jun 3, 2007

Urban forests can offset development

Current trends indicate a doubling of Florida's population by 2060 (to 34 million), with 80 percent of that influx settling within 40 miles of a coastline. To prepare for the inevitable urbanization and coastal density, planners are looking to "new urbanist" models that will reduce consumption of resources and conserve them for future use. Among these principles, "green infrastructure" and the use of the urban forest as a "bio-utility" are now recognized as critical to the success of smart growth.

A well-designed, -managed and -maintained urban forest has the proven capability to:

1. Sequester carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

2. Intercept deadly particulate pollution.

3. Control and filtrate surface water, circulating fresh rainfall back into the natural hydrological system.

4. Prevent coastal erosion.5. Cool our external and internal environments, thus reducing our energy consumption.

A healthy urban forest with "green corridors" preserves urban and suburban habitat for wildlife. Species selection, together with a feasible mitigation plan for invasives, is essential. Tree benefits do carry some costs -- principally maintenance and impact on hardscape. But the net benefit is increased if we focus on the planting and preservation of native species, which over the ages have established themselves harmoniously with other ecosystems (estuaries) and the patterns and needs of local wildlife.

Nonnatives seriously disrupt our environment.With recent publicity concerning habitat restoration projects in our area, it is important to address this issue in the context of the science of urban forestry management rather than focusing on a single species.

See the following Web sites for more information:

Tim Eiseler

The writer is a landscape architect, certified arborist and urban forester in Anna Maria.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Changing Sarasota

An interesting juxtaposition is seen with the new high rise buildings downtown appearing to loom over the older buildings along Fruitville.

While the shop pictured here sells antiques, some may view the building itself as an antique, being replaced by a modern scene. But the building hangs on, providing local character as well as business activity.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Florida Trust for Historic Preservation

From May 17 to 19, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation held their annual statewide preservation conference here in Sarasota. Workshops, tours and social events were held during the three day affair.

The theme for the conference was "Ringling to Rudolph", definitely a local flavor with a hint of today's issues.

With the headquarters for the event was at the Hyatt, a bit of irony was also present when the wrecking ball made its first plunge into the Quay buildings on May 18 - the midpoint of the conference.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sarasota Election Results

Two new commissioners will be seated on Friday, March 13. Kelly Kirshner and Dick Clapp received more votes than the incumbents they are replacing.

News story about the latest election is here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Humane Metropolis

Neil Peirce wrote an very interesting column about "Keys to the Humane Metropolis".

An excerpt:

Now, another idea has surfaced. It's called "The Humane Metropolis."

A book with that title, edited by Rutherford Platt, was recently published by the University of Massachusetts Press and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. A conference on the topic was held a week ago in Pittsburgh.

So what is a "humane metropolis"? The key words seem to be green, healthy, sociable, civic and inclusive.

A metropolis (i.e., metro region or citistate) is considered green if it fosters humans' connections to the natural world -- an idea Anne Whiston Spirn promoted in her seminal 1984 book "The Granite Garden." Spirn rejected the idea -- easily absorbed if one watches too many "concrete jungle" films, or even televised nature documentaries -- that the natural world begins beyond the urban fringe.

"Nature in the city," she wrote, "must be cultivated, like a garden, rather than ignored or subdued."

That means renewed attention to welcoming urban parks, from entire "green necklace" systems within metro areas to the emerald-green sanctuary of small vest-pocket parks. Community gardens, green roofs, street trees and planted medians all count -- and today more than ever as antidotes to the "urban heat island" phenomenon and the spread of global warming-inducing greenhouse gases.

Something for us to think about in Sarasota.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Downtowns and Prosperity

From an article in The Economist:

San Jose has attempted to create a commercial heart by selling city-owned land or even giving it away to developers. The city offers tax breaks and uses a portion of the property tax to pay for improvement projects. Since the late 1970s the redevelopment agency has shelled out $2 billion, almost two-thirds of it on downtown. It has built museums and theatres to lure people to the centre. Trams have been supplied to entice them out of their cars.

Such largesse has indisputably made the middle of San Jose more appealing than it used to be. By any measure other than an historical one, though, the campaign has been a failure. The office vacancy rate in downtown stands at 21%—higher than it was four years ago, during the dotcom slump, and almost twice as high as the Silicon Valley average. The theatres, which were supposed to lift downtown, now depend on the council to bail them out of trouble. In a city of 912,000 people, just 30,000 passengers ride trams each day. All this in a wealthy metropolis that has higher house prices than anywhere else in America, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Despite its anaemic condition, most visitors to San Jose at least know where downtown is. That is not the case in Las Vegas. The historical centre, with its string of small casinos and its neon cowboy, once seemed glitzy. It is now a shadow of the Las Vegas Strip, which has grown dementedly since the late 1980s, building ever larger, more exuberant hotels. Despite offering better odds than their competitors, the downtown casinos took in $630m last year, compared with $6.7 billion on the Strip. And they are the brightest spots in the area. Beside them lie cheap motels, shuttered shops and bail bondsmen.

The article is titled "Where the lights aren't bright." It is worth reading.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Major Tree Issue

Trees sacrificed for more roadway
By Jack Gurney-Pelican Press

Nobody knows for sure just how many trees Sarasota County has sacrificed so it can widen a 1.8-mile stretch of Bahia Vista Street to four lanes, but the current estimate exceeds 1,700 for a project that is costing taxpayers more than $27 million.

"This was a tough one on the trees," conceded David Godson, a county forester. "There were tons of them in the construction area and not much hope to preserve any in the right-of-way.

We looked after those that had the potential to be saved."

This is a disturbing issue that we face too many times in our city and county. We talk about the need to preserve the environment, global warming, storm water run-off and the nutrients that come with it and the negative effect on Sarasota Bay, yet development pressure takes hold and we remove precious tree canopy.

The full Pelican story can be accessed here.

A sad day for all of us.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Trees and North Port

North Port is in south Sarasota County - it is one of the fastest growing areas of Florida. The following story highlights one of the growth issues:

Article published Mar 8, 2007 in the Sarasota Herald Tribune

NORTH PORT -- City hall insiders know it as the battle between "the tree people" and "the builders.

"The dispute is what you would expect: conserving vs. building. But this squabble isn't as simple as it sounds.

Not in a place where the transformation from a sleepy town into a booming community of big-box stores and $400,000 homes affects everyday life and where roads can't be built, repaired or widened fast enough.

Perhaps no issue better illustrates the friction between the people who think things are changing too fast and those who say development is the key to North Port's future than the yearlong effort to draft a tree ordinance.

Conservationists say they're trying to bring a responsible sense of environmental stewardship to the city.Builders and some city leaders view their efforts as unrealistic and a threat to North Port's economic engine.

And while some portray the conflict as environmentalists vs. builders, the city has not been on the sidelines. In 2002, it sent out mailers telling residents that a proposed tree protection law which assessed fees for protected trees removed during new development would weaken tree protection, not improve it.

"There's a misconception that every builder clear-cuts every lot that they can," said Paul Morgan of the North Port Contractors Association. "I think you've got some people who are very passionate about their trees and I can understand it to a point -- because I love trees.

"The finger-pointing began last year when the city decided the best way to quell the feud was to appoint an equal number of tree people and builders on the Blue Ribbon Ad-Hoc Tree Committee.

The eight-member board was asked to craft an ordinance that would set steeper fines for illegally clearing land and propose other preservation standards.

But what was intended to be a collaborative effort quickly fell apart when the builders quit the committee.

Instead of scrapping the committee, additional tree enthusiasts were added to replace the departed builders. Then, last month, the city commission dissolved the committee and directed city staff to draft an ordinance, a decision that has some tree committee members claiming the city never took them seriously in the first place.

In the News - The Hits Keep On Coming

Time Magazine's on line version has a story about the demolition of Paul Rudolph buildings. Included is a reference to Riverview High School here in Sarasota:

And Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla., the city where Rudolph started his career in the 1940 and '50s, is now in danger of being sacrificed for a parking lot.

Check the entire story at this link. There is also a reference to the NY Times article about the same issue a couple days ago.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Arts Tour

The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota offers the opportunity on March 16-17 to purchase artwork as you visit the home studios of photographer Steven Katzman, painters Olivia Braida and Julie Trigg, sculptor Frank Colson, potter Ann Darling and collector Carolyn Michel.

Also, a Galleria of nine local artists formerly featured on FASS tours:
Jack Dowd
Dee Winterhalter
Ki Woon Hu
Bill Buchman
Larry Forgard
John and Suzie Seerey-Lester
Adrianne Winer
Peppi Elona

will be presented in the Crossley Gallery at the Ringling School of Art as part of this self-guided tour between 10-4 each day.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the artist's homes or the following locations:

Van Wezel Box Office
Ace Hardware - all stores
Davidson Drugs - all locations
Blue Line, 301 N.Central
BOX Furniture Boutique, 1417 1ST ST
Metro Coffee & Wine Café, 711 S. Osprey
State of the Art Gallery, 1525 State St
Gallery of Colleen Cassidy Berns, 4613 S. Tamiami
Piper Collectibles, Coral Cove Mall, 8419 S. Tamiami
Sarasota Enchanted Flowers,
Plaza at Palmer Ranch, 8419 S. Tamiami

Longboat Key Art Center, 6868 S.Longboat Dr.
Exit Art - all 3 locations

Davidson Drugs, all locations

Kemery’s Hallmark, 8322 Market St

Paper Pad 213 W. Venice Ave
Venice Art Center 390 S. Nokomis Ave

Call 941-330-0680 for information.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Seagate Story

The Cincinnati Enquirer has an article about the Crosley Mansion - Seagate. Excerpts are below.

If you're heading to see the Reds spring training in Sarasota, Fla., plan a visit to the beautifully restored mansion of former Reds owner Powel Crosley Jr.

The Cincinnati industrialist, inventor, automaker and WLW-AM founder built the lavish 21-room Mediterranean-style home in 1929, five years before he purchased his hometown baseball team.

Called Seagate, it was nestled among pine trees on picturesque Sarasota Bay.

Today it's hidden by the new University of South Florida campus on former Crosley property along the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41). The Crosley mansion is easily overlooked by vacationers who instead flock to the estate of Crosley's friend and next-door neighbor, circus owner and art collector John Ringling.

But Seagate definitely is worth trying to find on Wednesdays, when free public tours are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Inside, visitors will see the original pecky cypress ceiling beams and Italian tile floor in the living room where Powel and his wife, Gwendolyn, entertained guests for 10 years, until she died in 1939.

Upstairs they'll see Crosley's round wood-paneled nautical-themed office, with a ceiling wind-direction arrow connected to a rooftop weathervane.

Thanks to My Florida History for discovering this article. There is lots of interesting information at the My Florida History blog site.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Growth Control

Orlando Sentinel article.

Sierra Club backs push to let voters rule growth

The group's $35,000 gift boosts Florida Hometown Democracy, which business groups decry.

Kevin Spear Sentinel Staff Writer Posted March 1, 2007

Backers of a statewide proposal to give voters ultimate authority over new subdivisions, shopping centers and other future growth received a $35,000 contribution and vows of vigorous support from one of Florida's largest environmental groups Wednesday.

The Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club stepped firmly behind the Florida Hometown Democracy campaign, which aims to gather enough voter signatures to put a proposed constitutional amendment on next year's ballot. If passed, local politicians would have to win voter approval to change growth-planning guidelines.

"I think more and more people are becoming outraged by how we are growing," said John Hedrick, Sierra chairman for growth issues, who announced his group's support in Tallahassee. "I think people feel cut out of the planning process."

Hedrick said the Sierra Club in Florida has 18 local groups with a combined membership of more than 30,000. Each group has pledged to secure thousands of voter signatures.

Ross Burnaman, co-founder of the movement, said the proposal needs about 611,000 verified signatures by early next year. So far, Hometown Democracy has gathered 250,000 signatures, and about 110,000 have been approved by county elections supervisors, he said.

The proposal has drawn the ire of business associations and interest groups. Among them, the Florida Chamber of Commerce has launched a campaign that mocks the proposal as a "Hometown Democracy Scam."

"It would mean no new jobs and no new roads in Florida," said Adam Babington, coalition director at the chamber in Tallahassee. "It would turn every growth decision into a negative political campaign."

Florida Hometown backers said that kind of reaction stems from fears among development interests that the proposed amendment would make it harder to maximize profits.

"I think the Florida Chamber of Commerce is a little hysterical," said Lesley Blackner, the other co-founder of Hometown Democracy. "It's not a scam; it's about letting people vote. Maybe they don't want endless [population] density crammed down their throats."

Burnaman, of Tallahassee, and Blackner, of Palm Beach County, are land-use and environmental lawyers who joined together in 2003 to start Florida Hometown Democracy.

Voters can get ballot-petition forms online at florida or by calling toll-free 1-866-779-5513.

The initial effort to get on the 2006 ballot was struck down in 2005 by the state Supreme Court, which ruled that the proposed amendment's language did not meet legal requirements. The two lawyers regrouped later in 2005 with revised language that went on to win approval.

Another obstacle to the initiative emerged last year when Florida voters decided that future ballot questions must gain at least 60 percent support to be approved, rather than the simple majority that long had been the standard.

Still, observers say the proposal has a good chance of getting on the 2008 ballot and perhaps a better chance of winning approval.

"I think if it were on the ballot today it would pass easily," said University of South Florida political-science professor Susan MacManus, adding that resentment for growth is "strengthening day by day.

"If voters approve Florida Hometown Democracy, her worry is whether people would vote on complex growth issues.

"Local elections have low turnout, and I think you might have critical decisions being made by people with an agenda," MacManus said.

Tom Drage, lead attorney for Orange County government, said he is concerned about whether voters will want to inform themselves on many complicated issues.

In the past four years, Orange County has reviewed 262 applications for changes in growth plans and approved 125. Those vary from wording changes to reclassifications for intense development.

Tim Jackson, an Orlando planning consultant and vice president of the controlled-growth advocacy group 1000 Friends of Florida, said his organization is concerned Florida Hometown Democracy will turn local planning into popularity contests based on who has the most cash for marketing campaigns.

"We're not promoting it," Jackson said. "We are promoting people being engaged actively in their community."

The Central Florida think tank, which has business and government backing, recently conducted a survey asking residents to pick from among alternative visions for managing a population that could double to more than 7 million residents by 2050.

Hedrick of the Sierra Club said the survey suggested that such growth in inevitable."That's poppycock," he said. "They are not asking the fundamental question of, 'Is that what the people of Florida want?' "

Thursday, March 01, 2007


The Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation is proud to present the 17th Annual Historic Homes Tour on Sunday, March 4th from 11 AM to 5 PM.

This year’s tour will feature five delightful residences within their neighborhood context. Neighborhoods are an important part of Sarasota’s historical setting and help to define our city’s character, beauty and unique identity. Two homes are located in the Avondale Neighborhood, south of Hudson Bayou, and another three in the Grove Heights neighborhood.

“Teardown of historic homes has plagued the nation’s urban areas and affects us in Sarasota as well” states Alliance President, Christopher Wenzel on the decision to emphasize the neighborhood theme. “One by one, teardowns and larger scale replacements take an individual pearl from our string of pearls.”

1905 Alta Vista Street
The William and Bessie Pearsall House is a two story Mediterranean Style residence. Designed and built by local prominent architect Thomas Reed Martin in 1925, the home reflects the style and living standard of the time. It also embodies the history of economic expansion in the city of Sarasota. In 1928, the Pearsalls lost the home to foreclosure. The home was then sold to William and Emma Geiger and Bessie Pearsall transferred the furnishings of the house to the Geigers for $700.

1124 Brewer Place
This two story bungalow design features Moorish and Italianate influences – most notably the large square tower and parapet of the front façade. The building is thought to have been constructed for utility purposes, serving either as a pump house or fire station in the 1930’s and 40’s. An early plat map of the Avondale Subdivision shows the undersized lot between adjacent corner lots on the block adding to the theory it was not originally intended as a residence.

1828 Grove Street
The Edward H. Knight Residence is a one story wood frame bungalow with detached garage. Possibly moved to the property, the residence appears on the 1936 tax rolls when the property ownership was transferred from Ella Cobb to Edward Knight. Ella Cobb is thought to have been the wife of real estate developer, J. Paul Cobb, brother of the illustrious baseball player, Ty Cobb. An interesting feature of the home is beneath the trap door in the rear hallway. It leads to a small concrete room that was once a cistern for the collection of rainwater.

1936 Grove Street
This 1925 one story bungalow with detached garage, known as the Westmore Tenant house and Smith brewer Home, a Spanish eclectic style residence incorporates qualities of Spanish, Colonial, Byzantine, Moorish, Mission and Italianate styles. It represents the American democratic ideal of the emerging middle class, providing quality low-cost housing with excellent craftsmanship.

1919 Grove Street
The Ryan Garner Residence, a one story cross gabled Spanish bungalow, represents typical home construction during the Florida Land Boom. The home was purchased in 1926, following the October hurricane, by the family of Dan Ryan, a mortgage broker from Cleveland, Ohio. Other prominent local owners of the property include Frank Binz, Jr. of Binz and Lambert Construction and Edgar Allen Garner, who served as Chief of Police for the City of Sarasota from 1933 to 1949. Interior furnishings are exquisite and the home was recently featured in “Romantic Living” magazine.

The $20 tickets can be purchased in advance at Davidson Drugs, Main Books, Sarasota News and Books, The Sarasota County History Center, Sarasota Architectural Salvage and Historic Spanish Point. Tickets may also be purchased the day of the tour at any of the tour homes.

The mission of the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation is to preserve and enhance our historic places. We invite you to celebrate Sarasota’s rich architectural heritage and diversity by visiting these beautiful homes in their historic neighborhoods. For more information, call the Alliance at 941-953-8727.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

SOS Recommends "YES" on County Charter Amendment

The SHT recommends voting "YES" on the referendum question concerning requiring county approval for land use changes for annexed land outside the urban service boundary.

Sarasota County voters will soon be asked: Should the County Commission have the ability to approve proposals that would make annexed rural lands ripe for city development?

The case for voting "yes" is compelling, especially since county approval would only be required if the land isn't covered by a city-county planning agreement.

A voter-approved amendment to the county charter is necessary to give the commission a say in city-initiated changes to lands lying outside the "Urban Services Boundary" and designated by the county plan as rural.

Likewise the Pelican Press recommends a "YES" vote:

Let's cool the overheated growth in South County

Voters countywide have a chance March 13 to slow the growth that is exploding in southern Sarasota County, as Venice and North Port expand their tax bases by bringing formerly rural lands into the cities and permitting massive, sprawling developments.

Fortunately for the cities, the residential streets from all these projects empty onto county roads - rural county roads - and ultimately onto state roads, which the cities have no obligation to improve or maintain. That falls to all county taxpayers.

The same is true for providing schools for these residents' children, water and sewage treatment, drainage, storm sewers, parks ... The list goes on.

Since 2000, North Port has increased its size by more than 18,000 acres and has rezoned land to accommodate 26,520 new homes or apartments. County Planning Department calculations say that ultimately will mean 253,796 more vehicular trips and a demand for 3,276,500 additional gallons of water - per day.

A proposal worth venturing to the polls for - it may be the only thing on the ballot in many precincts - is a proposition that would in effect give Sarasota County veto power when cities attempt to annex rural county land for expansion, stemming this growth before it is too late.

Developers, big landowners and their legal, banking and business allies are expected to mount a late, negative campaign against the measure. Don't believe it.

The Pelican Press strongly urges all county residents to go to the polls and vote "Yes" on the county charter amendment.

Save Our Sarasota agrees with these recommendations.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Garden Club

Below are excerpts from a recent SHT article about the Sarasota Garden Club - one of Sarasota's great spaces.

Article published Feb 24, 2007

Andy Papineau, the new president of Sarasota Garden Club, has something in common with and something in contrast to his predecessors. Like other presidents, he's vigorously dedicated to preserving and promoting the 1.4 acres of city-owned lushly planted parkland on Boulevard of the Arts near busy U.S. 41.

Papineau is the first male ever elected to Sarasota Garden Club's highest office. Mable Ringling established the organization in 1927. Papineau, a Wisconsin transplant, wasn't looking to break an 80-year-old tradition. He was just looking for a garden to putter around in.

"When my wife, Mary Fran, and I moved to Sarasota five years ago, we settled in Village Walk, which is a no-maintenance, gated community," he said. "I missed my garden. Back in Sun Prairie, I had vegetable and flower gardens, as well as a rock garden; working in those spaces was stress relief from my job. Even though I retired to Florida, I didn't want to retire from gardening."

Architect John Crowell designed the [main building] structure in 1959 in the Sarasota School style with wide overhangs, a discreet profile and a Japanese feeling with the inclusion of shoji screens. Three sides of the function room are walls of sliding glass and when they open, interior and exterior spaces merge and the architecture disappears.

Other garden spaces to enjoy include a butterfly garden (25 varieties), cactus garden and a bromeliad garden. An exotic garden of hybrid hibiscus is dedicated to the military dead of World War II, and throughout the various specialty gardens are comfortable benches that have been given to Sarasota Garden Club as memorials to loved ones.

The potting shed, with its vivid blue-tile roof, reminds visitors of a Japanese teahouse and was a gift to the property from Marie Selby. Bert Brosmith was the architect."Some mornings, artists come to sketch or paint," said Papineau. "Other times, residents from the local high-rise apartments will wander over just to sit and listen to the waterfall and look at all the flowers. I call this place one of the hidden treasures of our town. It's here for the citizens of Sarasota to enjoy, and it's free."

Papineau believes his job as president is to promote Sarasota Garden Club's botanical property as one of the city's attractions and to insure that it remains an asset to the town. "We're in the part of Sarasota slated to change with the expanded cultural district," he said. "I've been attending city meetings to make sure that proposed roadways don't compromise this green space. This special land belongs to the City of Sarasota, but Sarasota Garden Club owns the buildings and leases the property on a five-year renewable contract. We're vigilant about wanting to preserve it."

All Sarasota Garden Club members (there are 185) take turns working at the Boulevard of the Arts property. To be part of Sarasota Garden Club, you join one of eight garden circles, based on interest in the specific activities of the circle. Some circles are craft oriented, others general purpose, others take on community projects. Driftwood Circle, for example, maintains Mable Ringling's secret garden at Ca d'Zan as one of its projects.

Membership in Sarasota Garden Club is $50. These dues support the club's scholarship program and help maintain the botanical park. Additionally, each garden circle has a membership fee. Circle members meet in private homes, but circles meet at Sarasota Garden Club for special events.

Besides maintaining the facilities, Sarasota Garden Club is actively engaged in community outreach through an annual flower show in March, scholarship programs, fee-based educational events, lectures, demonstrations, social activities and a variety of civic beautification projects through its circle members and through Sarasota Garden Club at large.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Saving Sarasota

An interesting approach to saving an historical home can be seen at 1386 5th St in the Rosemary District.

A new condo building is being built next to the home and it surrounds the home on three sides.

We applaud the effort to save this historic home.
The home was built in 1901.