CITIZEN DIPLOMATS - CARVING A PATH TOWARD PEACE SINCE 1963 - THIS BLOG IS OUR NEWSLETTER
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Briefs From Barwin
Weekly Briefs from City Manager Tom Barwin Click here
BRIEFS from BARWIN
From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
November 20, 2015
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
It was a bit windy earlier week but nice fishing conditions for Sarasota resident Ashley Askew, who we caught up with at the Tony Saprito Fishing Pier near downtown. She had just cast her line and was hoping to possibly catch some red fish. Access to the fishing pier is free and open to the public 24-7 and live bait is available for purchase around the corner at Hart's Landing.
MEETINGS NEXT WEEK
Bobby Jones Golf Club Study Cmte
Tues., November 24 - 4 p.m. City Hall - Commission Chambers Agenda
Fruitville Rd. Streetscape Workshop
Mon., November 30: 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. City Hall - Commission Chambers Details
City Career Opportunities
Dir., Parks and Recreation
Facility Maintenance Technician
General Manager, Purchasing
Parking Enforcement Specialist
Police Officer, 2nd Class
Procurement Specialist III
Utilities Capital Manager
Utility Mechanic I
Windows System Administrator
On Monday afternoon, the City Commission embraced the idea of reaching out to Sarasota County to discuss a mutually beneficial proposal to build the planned come as you are (CAYA) jail diversion shelter in the County. I viewed it as a "win, win, win, win, win" -- for homeless individuals, residents, business owners, City government, and County government.
Here's the proposal: Sarasota County's future facility plans include constructing an employee training center on County owned property at its Catteman Rd./Bahia Vista campus, where a new EOC was just built. The County's future plans also call for a new Sheriff's Office administration building at the complex.
The City proposed discussing the possibility of conveying the old SPD site on Ringing Blvd., which currently is a vacant parcel, to Sarasota County to build a joint City-County employee training facility. That would free up 2.7 acres on the Cattleman campus for a CAYA shelter. Click here to view a map of the County's Cattleman Rd. Campus.
The advantages are numerous: building a jail diversion shelter on Cattleman Rd. would help deconcentrate the homeless population in downtown and North Sarasota, which is already strained socio-economically; the Cattleman property is already owned by Sarasota County, which would translate into at least a $1 million savings as a result of not having to purchase land; the Cattleman site is an isolated location buffered by I-75 and would be safe and well protected with the Sheriff's Office presence; it is more centrally located to the fast growing South County; and public transportation is just across the road with an already existing SCAT bus station with access to the entire County.
Presenting the proposal to the City Commission.
Less than 24 hours later, the Board of County Commissioners dismissed the proposal without meaningful discussion. That's a shame. The County's trajectory continues to be to purchase property in North Sarasota near U.S. 301 and build a CAYA-jail diversion shelter there. One site under consideration is 1,000 feet from our popular Robert L. Taylor Community Complex, where children and senior citizens gather, socialize, and play every day.
It's reasonable for the City to be concerned about a second homeless shelter opening in Sarasota. It will add undo stress to an already challenged area.
To end on an up note, earlier this week, Leslie Loveless, Executive Director of the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness, announced what she called 'an encouraging trend': their data shows that year over year they are seeing a significant drop in veteran homelessness and a slight reduction in chronic homelessness. This is a result of our Homeless Outreach Team working one-on-one with homeless individuals, and all our partners in the social services community doing a yeoman's job of helping those who need and want help.
I've written an essay posted below entitled "Our Fight to Deconcentrate Poverty", which delves deeper into why the Sarasota community cannot absorb another shelter.
Our Fight to Deconcentrate Poverty
By Tom Barwin
If you have a few minutes this pre-Thanksgiving weekend, I would encourage you to Google the term "Concentrated Poverty". For those who may not have the time, here is the Wikipedia definition:
".... areas of concentrated poverty place additional burdens on poor families that live within them, beyond what the families own individual circumstances would dictate.....limiting economic potential and social cohesion."
The Brookings Institute has documented that the "concentration of poverty results in higher crime rates, underperforming public schools, poor housing and health services, as well as limited access to private services and job opportunities."
Most literature on this subject traces the roots of concentrated poverty to our country's unfortunate history and lingering effects of racial discrimination related to housing, education and employment. As a City Manager for 35 years who constantly reviews community data and history, I believe this is true.
As Sarasota's historically segregated community of Newtown has proudly celebrated its 100 year anniversary this year, the enthusiasm, optimism and commitment to progress and economic development has been palpable. Newtown and city leaders have been quietly and effectively making important strides over the past decade to break the bonds of concentrated poverty that engulf and frustrate so many minority communities across America. It's not an easy fight.
Space does not allow me to share all of the progress and many exciting initiatives currently underway but the recent investments to modernize housing at Janie's Garden, opening the well run Robert L. Taylor Community Center and rebuilding the new Booker High School are paying
dividends and have lifted community spirits. These important investments have begun to stimulate private sector investment. The vision of restoring Newtown's once functional and vibrant main street, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, is within reach.
As momentum builds, Sarasota and Newtown are poised to do something over the next decade that few communities have accomplished. Overcoming historic geographic poverty by, with, and for the people living within its reaches is an attainable goal our community is committed to achieving.
The first rule to the formula of breaking the cycle of concentrated poverty is similar to a guiding principle for physicians "first, do no harm."
Why is this important? It explains the strong and legitimate community reaction to the plan announced this week by Sarasota County to place a 250 bed, 24/7/365, "come-and-go-as-you-are", jail diversion facility on Myrtle Street near the Robert L. Taylor Community Center at Myrtle and 301. We anticipate 50 beds for homeless and 200 beds for offenders.
As the City and Newtown strive to overcome the seemingly intractable challenge of concentrated poverty, permanently adding 250 of the region's most challenging health and socio-economic cases to Sarasota neighborhoods is perceived at best to be yet another example of governmental indifference.
Policies that place extraordinary burdens and pressures on poor areas keep poor neighborhoods poor. This example is especially troubling when other options exist which are less expensive, faster to implement, enjoy far better buffers and are not in close proximity to a community center frequented by large numbers of children.
On behalf of Newtown and the City, I respectfully urge our County Commissioners to listen to their constituents. They have legitimate concerns. Reconsider the outrageously bad advice you are following from the out of state consultant. He clearly has no interest in or sensitivity to issues related to concentrated poverty, the historic struggle Newtown is overcoming and the opportunities ahead if not derailed by such an ill-conceived plan.
Let us strive together to do no harm and in the affirmative aspiration of the Athenian Oath, "Let us transmit this city greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us."
To read or share this essay in a pdf formatclick here.
This Week's Items to Know:
Thanksgiving - Holiday Schedule The holidays are almost upon us! Next week, City Hall and administrative offices will be closed both Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. Garbage, yard waste and recycling will NOT be collected on Thanksgiving Day. Instead, pick up will be one day later: * Regular Thurs. pick up will be Friday, Nov. 27 * Regular Fri. pick up will be moved to Saturday, Nov. 28
Lido Pool and Bobby Jones Golf Club will have regular hours on Thanksgiving (more info below on the holiday festivities at our historic municipal golf course). Robert L. Taylor Community Complex will be closed on Thanksgiving and will reopen on Friday with regular hours. Happy Thanksgiving!
Bobby Jones Golf Club - 'Turkey Shoot' Our staff at Bobby Jones is gearing up to host the 7th Annual 'Turkey Shoot' -- a fun way to spend the morning before settling in for Thanksgiving dinner.
The 7th Annual Turkey Shoot will be held at Bobby Jones Golf Club on Thanksgiving Day.
The 'Turkey Shoot' is a shotgun start at 8:45 a.m. with reduced greens fees. 18 holes with a golf cart will be $22.50. Mattison's Grille on the Green will offer a hot breakfast --- and for those with a 'Turkey Shoot' receipt there will be a $3 discount. The 'Turkey Shoot' is a popular outing at Bobby Jones and we appreciate our staff coordinating this holiday event. And, a special thank you to our employees who will be working on Thanksgiving!
Neighborhood News - Dr. MLK, Jr. Way Streetscape The continuation of improvements along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way resumed at the end of October, and the $1.6 million community investment is quite noticeable already. To enhance pedestrian access and mobility, crews are removing aging concrete sidewalks and curbs from Riverside to Washington Court and installing new ones. Wherever possible, the sidewalk is
An employee with Professional Concrete Inc., based in Sarasota, working on a sidewalk this week.
being widened. To help with this, a dozen FPL utility poles will be relocated. As part of the project, the existing street lighting will be enhanced, which will translate into brighter light on the sidewalk and increased safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The lamp posts also will be refurbished. Right now, crews are working on the north side of Dr. MLK, Jr., Way. Once they reach Washington Ct., they will begin work on the south side. The project is expected to wrap up in January or February. In the meantime, the contractor plans to work Monday-Wednesday next week before the holiday.
Crews preparing a sidewalk site for a concrete pour this week.
Holiday Boat Parade of Lights - Dec. 12 Entries for the 30th Annual Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights are now being accepted.
The Boat Parade will be Dec. 12.
Organizers tell us there is no entry fee if your boat is registered by November 28. After that, there is a $20 registration fee. The parade route has been expanded a bit this year with an extra turn at the southwest side of Bayfront Park. In addition to Bayfront Park, the best places for viewing are Marina Jack, City Island and Centennial Park. The parade is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 and is expected to be shown live on SNN6. For more information visit SarasotaChristmasBoatParade.com
PBS NewsHour - Segment PostponedAs you may have heard, PBS NewsHour postponed airing its story about the chronic homeless issue in Sarasota due to the terrorist attacks in Paris. We're in touch with the segment producer and when we know an air date we'll pass it along.
As the mercury drops up north and the skies transition into winter, we certainly can be thankful for the natural beauty we enjoy year round in our special community. Weekly Briefs will be on holiday next week. We'll return Fri., December 4. In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys a safe and restful Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading this week's edition. If you'd like to receive Weekly Briefs directly to your inbox click 'Join Our Mailing List' below or send us an email at CityNews@SarasotaGov.com.