+ All paid up
Who would have figured having “Laurel Park Neighborhood Association” next to my name could cause such a stir. But, to file a complaint because I didn’t pay a $25 fee and fill out a form, well that kind of hurts my feelings.
I’ve lived in Laurel Park for more than 20 years, served two terms on the board of directors, and for three years was editor of the Laurel Park News, including the Celebrate Sarasota Edition published with city grant money. I represented Laurel Park twice at the Florida Neighborhoods Conference. Those “Historic Laurel Park T-Shirts” were my design. Tour my neighborhood, and all those mature trees growing in the right of way — my project.
It took more than two years to get those 181 trees planted; and to get them established Devin Rutkowski, Jack Notestein and I watered them for months out of the back of a pickup truck using five-gallon buckets and Pete DeLisser’s reuse water. Those were good times.
My neighborly function now is to be on-call for my neighbors who need trash taken out, a ride to the doctor or a familiar voice in the dark when the electricity goes out. And for the record, my friends in Laurel Park would do the same for me.
It really is sad to think that some people care more about a membership form than the substance of what an association of neighbors truly is.
By the way, I’m all paid up. Thanks, Kate, for reminding me.
+ SCAT station shuffle
In response to your article, “SCAT station could get new home,” I am a downtown resident and a property owner near the suggested alternative bus station at the corner of Ringling Boulevard and School Avenue.
I am opposed to this proposed site for many reasons including:
1. It will increase bus traffic on neighborhood streets in Ringling Park, Paver Park and Alta Vista neighborhoods, as well as smaller downtown connecter streets, which already have too much traffic. For example, the intersection of Ringling Boulevard and 301 and stretch of 301 between Ringling Boulevard and Brother Geenen Way are already highly congested and would likely see increased use by buses if the station relocates to Ringling Boulevard.
2. The small site and lack of nearby amenities will encourage bus riders and homeless individuals to migrate to and congregate in Payne Park, which could decrease use of the recently installed and expensive playground for children and the Frisbee golf equipment.
3. It will discourage the redevelopment of the surrounding area for mixed use on currently vacant or unused sites on School Avenue and the former Publix at the Ringling Shopping Center and possibly even the site acquired by the city on 301 for the baseball stadium project that fell through. The proximity of these sites to Payne Park could lead to more up-market development of the area and a nice tax benefit to the city, which could be stymied by relocating the bus station next door.
The suggested new site is too close to residences, too small and is located too much within the downtown interior and it will not be an improvement on the existing facility. In my opinion, relocating the bus station to this location would be a waste of taxpayers’ money and could potentially reduce the city’s tax base in the future.
I propose another location: The the bowling alley site on Fruitville Road and Lime Avenue. This site is large and is located on a main thoroughfare. The property could be constructed so that a new bowling alley is built above the bus station, giving downtown residents a state of the art recreational facility and giving this existing business a new source of patrons (bus riders, including kids, waiting for bus service could use the bowling alley and any adjoining food service facility). The new bowling facility could be designed with children’s safety in mind, such as separate restrooms/changing areas and even separate bowling lanes.
Using this location, in my opinion, could also promote the redevelopment of the surrounding areas with more affordable or mid-market residences and businesses, which is more compatible with a bus station. For example, it could promote the sale of the Vengroff property nearby, help prevent further deterioration of houses in the Park North neighborhood and revitalize the North Lime shopping district. The city beautified this area a few years ago but new businesses did not follow. This could help bring the needed pedestrian traffic.
+ Ties that bind
With the Winter Olympic Games about to begin in Russia, the time is ripe for Sarasota to review its sister-city relationship with Vladimir, Russia in view of its anti-LGBT laws.
We have sister cities to foster cultural exchanges and open lines of communication. Therefore, right now is the time to show that Vladimir’s — and the rest of Russia’s — decisions and actions have consequences for which they must take responsibility. By suspending our sister-city ties until they change their homophobic laws, we show that we truly value all our people, including our gay sisters and brothers.
After all, why open lines of communication if one isn’t going to use them?