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Highlights of February 5, 2024 Sarasota City Commission Meeting

Highlights of February 5, 2024 Sarasota City Commission Meeting


CityPAC Steering Committee member Mollie Cardamone outlined the principles of public service and the criteria that CityPAC’s endorsements committee will use to weigh 2024 city commission candidates.*

Every elected official, resident, and city employee, should watch this good governance refresher to remind us all that we are neighbors first, and if we follow our city charter, and work together to keep Sarasota a great place to call home, the city will prosper.


Structures are all about context. A hometown is a shared and ever-changing ecosystem - a circle of life across time. Architecture Sarasota is hosting an important series of conversations about the city’s built environment, and our collective vision for the future.

The first lecture was from the man behind the city plan for downtown, Andrés Duany. As he did two decades ago, Duany portrayed current residents as enemies of progress. He also described what, in his opinion, has gone right with the implementation of that vision (Palm Avenue and Main Street) and wrong (amplified sound, not enough set-backs or green/open space between buildings, and the plan to incentivize oversized structures abutting 41, 301, and Fruitville while recommending sunsetting for unproven zoning text amendments.

Will the city heed his advice, and that of Planning Board member Dan DeLeo, and craft specifications for mixed-used housing and commercial properties along major roadways that complements existing neighborhoods and provides an inviting entry to the city?

There are glimmers of hope – the planners indicated they may implement a suggestion made at CCNA that the city put a cap, in feet, on the height, width, and breadth of structures alongside the corridors, and specify ample setbacks and buffers from the street and the single-story adjacent neighborhoods.


The Bayfront splash pad opened for kids of all ages to freely enjoy. On the other side of the Bay, RIDE Entertainment (the commercial theme operator behind the landscape-damaging Winter Carnival in St. Armands Circle Park) proposed turning Ken Thompson Park, the public greenspace by Mote, Ski-A-Rees, and Save-R-Seabirds, into a paid-for sport (golf in a hole?) and a floating skybar.

The unsolicited proposal was added to the agenda as a presentation, meaning residents were not allowed to speak to the issue. Yet, they made their objections known through writing letters to the Commissioner Arroyo and Commissioner Battie pushed for exploring the options for activating the public park.

Vice Mayor Ahearn-Koch directed attention toward the city’s 2021 master plan for the parks and public realm, which affirmed the city’s commitment to open and free access to parks and greenspace. Commissioner Trice expressed traffic concerns about adding commercial attractors to parks, and to the island in particular, and emphasized the public need and desire for green space and nature parks. She stated that she was firmly against moving ahead with this proposal, and suggested that a Bay Runner stop be added to Ken Thompson to increase access.

During discussion of the issue, Mayor Alpert suggested that ideas for improving the park and specific amenities within them should come from the public and parks department and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PREP).

Later, following persistent boosting of the commercialization idea by Commissioner Arroyo during the commission’s closing remarks, Mayor Alpert reversed course, and argued for referring RIDE’s unsolicited theme park idea (with no bid or RFP or public support) to the PREP board for discussion and evaluation. With Vice Mayor Ahearn-Koch and Trice opposed, the remaining commissioners directed staff to advance the idea to the PREP board.


Feb. 20: Bars: Indoor, outdoor (and airborne?). Sound ordinance.

*Note: The publisher of this newsletter, Kelly Franklin, will not participate in CityPAC's candidate forums and its vetting or endorsement of City Commission candidates because her husband has announced that he is running for the District 2 seat on the commission.

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