The Sarasota Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection board is looking to the public for a way to maintain and upgrade the city’s parks without a budget increase.
The board held a special meeting on Feb. 20 regarding the potential outsourcing of payment for parks and recreation amenities, at which point the group decided to reach out to the community for assistance. Two representatives from the parks board spoke at Saturday’s Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations meeting.
Todd Kucharski, the city’s public works general manager, said the city has been struggling with park upkeep since 2011, when the county began withdrawing its financial support for the maintenance of city parks.
“Turf maintenance has gone from being cared for to now, we just mow it,” Kucharski said. “If it’s green, it’s green.”
Carl Shoffstall, a member of the Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection board, called on CCNA to have a substantive discussion of alternate funding mechanisms, such as forming a conservancy. Shoffstall said Friends of Sarasota County Parks has been in communication with the city parks board, offering insight on how to potentially aid the funding of maintenance.
“We have to come up with something to maintain the parks and rebuild them,” Shoffstall said.
CCNA agreed to continue the conversation about the city’s parks, but the county stepping away from funding city parks upset several representatives at the meeting. Cathy Antunes, a resident of Golden Gate Point, said city residents were county taxpayers too, and that the funding conversation should begin there.
“I don’t think we should be having a bake sale to fund our park maintenance when we’re paying (taxes) twice,” Antunes said.
Contact David Conway at [email protected].