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City gets closer to paid parking plan

It looks like it’s going to cost to park soon in downtown Sarasota. Last month, the city’s Parking Advisory Committee held its last meeting ahead of a City Commission discussion regarding the return of paid parking.

Led by Parking Manager Mark Lyons, the group discussed a plan for meters, including the possible price points for the meters. Lyons initially proposed similar rates to the last time the city instituted paid parking. That would cost drivers 10 cents for six minutes, 25 cents for 15 minutes, $1 for an hour and an additional $1 for any amount of time between one hour and two hours. The meters would run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The city is considering putting in about 450 to 500 parking meters along part of Gulfstream Avenue and Main Street. But this isn’t the first attempt. The city installed meters about five years ago at the cost of $300,000 — only to remove them due to complaints. City officials say the meters will help businesses by creating more turnover in parking spots. The meters, however, remain unpopular among residents and business owners, who fear they will keep customers away from downtown.

County mulls mowing changes

Sarasota County is proposing changes to the level of mowing service in residential areas within the county's urban service boundary and hosted two informational meetings on those changes in late July. Those residential areas include parts of Siesta Key and other areas of the county.

The county currently performs periodic mowing maintenance of the rights of way along these residential roadways, eight times a year. On Aug. 24, the Sarasota County Commission will be considering a change that would transfer the responsibility to adjacent property owners, similar to existing practices within the cities of Sarasota, Venice and North Port. The county will save more than $500,000 a year if the change is adopted.

A list of affected roads can be found at On April 27, 2016 the Sarasota County Commission approved a plan to hold a public hearing to consider revisions to the level of service (LOS) for mowing provided along public roadways within neighborhoods of unincorporated Sarasota County. Upcoming, on Aug. 24, the Commission will consider an ordinance revision that will require property owners in residential areas within the urban service boundary to maintain public rights of way (ROW) adjacent to their properties.

First Zika case reported in Sarasota

A Sarasota County resident contracted the Zika virus while traveling, marking the first local case of the infection, the Florida Department of Health announced last month.

As a result, Sarasota County has been added to the state’s Declaration of Public Health Emergency, issued earlier this year after the virus first came to Florida. Sarasota County's first case marked the 499th in Florida, at the time, including 27 cases acquired from mosquitoes in the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami.

On Aug. 17, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune presented a forum on the Zika virus. At the forum, experts discussed the individual and public-health implications of Zika, along with prevention and containment strategies. Public education and prevention are the two biggest weapons against the Zika virus, a panel of experts said at the form, held at the Sarasota Orchestra’s Holley Hall.

The expert panel included Dr. Kyle Gardner, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Sarasota Memorial Hospital; Michael Drennon, epidemiologist at the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County; Matthew Smith, director of Sarasota County Mosquito Management; and Dr. Vilma Vega, an infectious disease specialist.

The Sarasota Zika case is one of 10 new travel-related cases reported just on Aug. 12, according to the state. Three new non-travel related cases were also identified in Miami-Dade County on the same day, according to the update. Manatee County has seen two travel-related cases of Zika so far.

In Sarasota County, the declaration mandates a meeting that includes, at minimum, the county health department, the County Commission, the Tourist Development Council, the county medical society, emergency management and the airport authority. Local leaders will discuss mosquito control and coordinate public outreach strategies.

Fruitville Elementary shows off expansion

One of the area’s oldest schools received some new additions to its campus. This school year is Fruitville Elementary School's 75th anniversary, and the Sarasota County School District celebrated Aug. 10 with a ribbon-cutting on new, modern additions to the school.

The event unveiled a new 30,000-square-foot, 18-classroom building, new renovations in two existing buildings, a new covered play area and an expanded bus loop. The school unveiled a new centrally-located 30,000-square-foot, 18-classroom building, new renovations in two existing buildings, a new covered play area, and an expanded bus loop. Total cost for renovations was $7.65 million. School started in Sarasota County on August 22.

Hyatt Place Sarasota changes ownership

A hospitality company that is building two new hotels here — in Nokomis and Lakewood Ranch — just paid $16.1 million for the Hyatt Place Sarasota.

A subsidiary company of Lodgco Hospitality LLC bought the 114-room Hyatt Place, located near Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. The new owner plans “minimal renovations” to the property, according to recent media accounts.

Lodgco, based in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, is a partner with developer Floridays Development Co. on two new hotels in Nokomis and Lakewood Ranch.

100-room Hotel planned for Pinecraft

By the end of next year, travelers and families to Sarasota’s Amish-Mennonite neighborhood of Pinecraft should have 100 hotel rooms to stay at.

The Carlisle Inn of Sarasota will be just a short stroll from Der Dutchman, Alma Sue's, Miller's Dutch Haus Furniture, and Yoder’s Restaurant. Dutchman Hospitality, the inn's parent company, has a long history of serving the Sarasota community and its visitors through the Der Dutchman kitchen, and plans to open the hotel. Plans call for a four-story, 85,000 square-foot hotel with large common areas designed for hotel guests to congregate outside of their rooms.

Dutchman Hospitality, based in Walnut Creek, Ohio, first pitched plans for the hotel in 2015. The Carlisle Inn of Sarasota will feature Amish decor similar to that of Der Dutchman’s decor, with high-quality woodwork, quilts and emblems.

Plans are expected to appear before the Sarasota County Commission in September. The president of Dutchman Hospitality said the company hopes to break ground on the more than $10 million project soon after it gets the stamp of approval from the county. The company anticipates 14 months of construction, and hopes to have the inn open for business by mid to late fall 2017. 

Boca Kitchen slated to open downtown

Boca Kitchen, Bar & Market — a restaurant and retailer based in Tampa — was slated to open its fourth location at 19 S. Lemon Ave. in downtown Sarasota by the end of August, according to a news release.

The firm behind Boca Kitchen, a farm-to-table-focused restaurant, is currently accepting job applications for the new downtown eatery at

The Sarasota restaurant will seat 160 patrons, and includes a semi-private mezzanine and a market featuring fresh produce and jams, along with local products, such as Sara Fresh Juices, according to the news release. According to the chain’s website, “Boca’s menu is based on the local food movement and sources ingredients from nearby farmers and specialty food purveyors.” There are currently three locations with the Boca Brandon being the most recent restaurant to open. The chain is also planning a forthcoming location in St. Petersburg, according to its website.

Benderson Park hires new CEO

A new president and CEO has been hired for the nonprofit that runs Sarasota County's Nathan Benderson Park. 

Robert J. Sullivan, an experienced event venue manager in Wichita Falls, Texas, will start Monday, according to a Wednesday statement from the board of Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates Inc. Sullivan replaces longtime park official Paul Blackketter, who stepped down abruptly in April but said he would help SANCA  through the 2016 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. 

Sullivan has more than 35 years’ experience in event venue management and will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the park’s operations and management. The park has been developed primarily as a rowing venue and is scheduled to hold the US Rowing Youth National Championships and World Rowing Championships next year but also has held triathlon, running, paddleboard and other events.

Benderson Park — operated by Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates, and supported through a partnership between Sarasota County and Benderson Development — has gone from a gravel mining pit to a 600-acre rowing and sports venue that hosted the Olympic Trials in rowing.

Siesta Sand
Author: Siesta Sand

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