The search for the downtown location for a proposed “come as you are” homeless shelter has hit yet another snag.
Sarasota County Director of Homeless Services Wayne Applebee sent an email to Sarasota County commissioners April 7, informing them that, according to city of Sarasota staff, the buyer of the property at 1502 and 1563 Lime Ave. is not willing to sell or lease the property for the purpose of building a homeless shelter there.
The unavailability of the site dampens enthusiasm for what city and county commissioners considered a major act of compromise last week in their ongoing debate over where to build the facility.
After weeks of tension between the two boards due to the perception among county commissioners and county staff that the city was deliberately trying to stall the selection of a site, the two boards reached what was touted as a major compromise by selecting a third possible site for the facility at a joint meeting April 1. The two boards had planned to further discuss the Lime Ave. site at an April 22 joint meeting.
The project remains stalled due to lengthy environmental studies of the original two site options at 1330 N. Osprey Ave. and 1800 East Ave.
Some city commissioners claim the studies are necessary to protect the city’s utilities infrastructure and for homeland security concerns, while some county commissioners call the exhaustive environmental reviews delay tactics to ultimately prevent the facility from ever being built downtown.
County Commissioner Joe Barbetta pushed to continue the review of the original sites to prevent further delays to the shelter. Homelessness expert Dr. Robert Marbut, who was hired by the city and county to study homelessness in Sarasota County, recommended the facility in a study released last November.
“We need to keep this on track,” County Commissioner Joe Barbetta wrote Applebee in an email, “so it would appear that we continue with our two primary sites as you and Dr. Marbut had originally been doing.”
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