+ Downtown parking meters to sprout by spring
Beginning in the spring, drivers will have to pay to park in more than 600 downtown parking spaces.
The City Commission approved Jan. 3 a $510,000 contract with contractor Duncan Industries to install parking meters by May.
The high-tech meters strategically placed downtown will allow for coin, credit-card and even cell-phone payment.
The meters will be installed within a quarter-mile of three public parking garages — Palm Avenue garage, Second Street garage at Whole Foods and the Ringling Boulevard garage across from the police department and sheriff’s office.
The theory behind placing meters near the garages is to encourage more people, especially downtown employees, to use the parking structures and leave the on-street spaces for diners and shoppers.
Metered parking is believed to increase turnover in those spaces, which allows consumers to more easily find an open spot.
The commission will discuss next month how much to charge and how long a driver can park in a single space.
+ Two more candidates enter City Commission races
City Commissioner Dick Clapp now has an opponent in the spring election. Restaurateur Paul Caragiulo has announced that he will run for the District 2 commission seat.
Also joining entering a City Commission race is Diana Hamilton, who will run in District 3.
It’s the second City Commission campaign for each candidate.
Caragiulo ran for one of two at-large seats in 2009. He lost in a runoff to Suzanne Atwell and Terry Turner.
Hamilton also tried for an at-large seat but lost that 2005 election.
“I want us to be more of a can-do government,” said Hamilton, a garden designer who lives in Laurel Park. “We say we’re open to business but make it hard for (businesses).”
She will face two other candidates, Shannon Snyder and Pete Theisen, who are running for the District 2 seat, which Mayor Kelly Kirschner is vacating.
Caragiulo is also running on a platform of improving business conditions in Sarasota.
“I want to make this place more attractive (to businesses),” he said. “It’s very complicated and cumbersome to get something done here.”
Since he last ran for commission, the Caragiulo family opened one new restaurant, Owen’s Fish Camp, and plans to open another one soon, Nancy’s Bar-B-Q.
+ Nine women arrested in prostitution sting
The Sarasota Police Department conducted an undercover prostitution sting Jan. 3 in Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores and other north Sarasota neighborhoods.
Nine suspected prostitutes, ranging in age from 22 to 52, were arrested.
+ Selby Five Points Park lights will be illuminated
With the flick of a switch, Selby Five Points Park will become the first known public park to be lit with color-changing LED lights.
An elaborate computerized lighting system will be draped in all of the park’s 26 trees, each of which will have 200 small lights in its canopy.
It will be lit for the first time at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7.
The system is capable of creating 60 million different color tones, which will give the park the ability to feature different colors for different occasions, such as red, white and blue on the Fourth of July or red and green at Christmastime.
John Moran, the project coordinator for the Downtown Improvement District and Downtown Sarasota Alliance, helped secure the $81,000 in grants and contributions to fund the system’s purchase.
Meetings & agendas
Parks Advisory and Recreation Council — 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 6, County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd.
County Commission — 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, Robert L. Anderson Administration Center, 4000 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice
Charter Review Committee — 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, City Hall, 1565 First St.
County Commission — 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12, County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd.
Contact Robin Roy at email@example.com