Last month, Downtown Economic Development Coordinator Norm Gollub said it seemed unlikely that the security presence in the heart of the city could be beefed up anytime soon. Now, however, it appears the effort may have gained significant momentum.
At today’s Downtown Improvement District meeting, the group revisited the possibility of hiring additional security to monitor downtown. Gollub presented the DID board with two options — hiring an off-duty police officer to patrol the area for $33 an hour, or hiring a private security guard at $20 an hour.
The group expressed an interest in expanding the private security presence that already exists downtown, and agreed to invite Sarasota Security Patrol President Chad Ritchie to the next DID meeting to further discuss the issue. The revived downtown security discussions came on the heels of two moves made to increase the presence of private officers downtown.
Ron Soto, president of the Sarasota Downtown Merchants Association and DID board member, said the merchants group voted last week to hire Sarasota Security Patrol to monitor the 1300, 1400 and 1500 blocks of Main Street. DID Chairman Ernie Ritz said he also hired the security group to patrol his property at the corner of Lemon Avenue and First Street.
Both Soto and Ritz called on the DID to help fund an expanded security presence to combat issues relating to vagrants in the area.
“Security is one of the issues the DID is supposed to take care of,” Ritz said. “I think the DID should put up some money for this security we need — they’re chasing our shoppers away.”
Gollub said he had worked with Ritchie to develop some potential patrol schedules to complement ongoing downtown security efforts, including those undertaken by Pineapple Square developer Butch Isaac. At the next DID meeting, the group will continue to discuss the scope of any potential security patrol.
For more information on the push for downtown security, pick up a copy of this Thursday's Sarasota Observer.
Contact David Conway at [email protected].