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Sarasota Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009 5 years ago

Effort to stop garage fails

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Vice Mayor Kelly Kirschner was willing to take criticism that he was flip-flopping on the Palm Avenue parking garage if it meant avoiding a structure of which the city would not be proud.

He will not get that chance.

On Monday night, Kirschner tried unsuccessfully to abort the construction of the parking garage.

“While I supported moving ahead with this, is this the best strategy and best time to do this?” he asked fellow commissioners and City Manager Bob Bartolotta. “We’re going to add debt to a parking department that is already hemorrhaging.”

Only commissioner Terry Turner agreed with the vice mayor.

“I’m looking for assurances we’re not going to have something the community’s ashamed of,” Turner said.
Kirschner said he had spoken to several contractors prepared to bid on the project. They told him they’d never seen a situation where the design of a structure already had been determined.

“One told me when you’re going for fast, good and cheap, you’ll only get two out of three,” he said.
Bartolotta said the only reason the city suggested a design was to get a fair comparison between all the bids.

“We’re not wedded to the design,” said Bartolotta. “Once you select an architect, (the commission) can ask for a different design.”

Construction is expected to be complete by October 2010. If construction is delayed, said the city manager, the cost, now estimated to be $15 million, could rise.

Mayor Dick Clapp and Commissioners Fredd Atkins and Suzanne Atwell voted to keep the parking-garage project on track.

“I will defend this commission’s right to change its mind, but there has to be compelling reasons,” Atwell said. “This doesn’t rise that far.”

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