The city is nearly doubling the number of federal earmarks it is requesting this year from Congress.
Through its Washington, D.C., lobbyist, Marlowe and Co., City Hall seeks federal funding for nine projects this year. The combined cost for those projects could reach more than $100 million. (See box.)
Last year, the city requested funding for five projects.
The earmark request is an annual exercise City Hall undertakes in January.
Because a transportation bill is likely to work its way through Congress in 2011, Marlowe and Co. suggested the city go heavy on transportation-related requests.
The improvement projects that the lobbyist will try to attach onto a transportation bill include:
• Downtown circulator — a streetcar-type transit system with frequent stops at Sarasota’s most popular business and cultural attractions.
• Bayfront-connectivity plan — a newly designed roadway, which would include roundabouts and extra room for transit, bikes and pedestrians.
• Advanced traffic-light management system — upgrades of 43 city traffic signals to integrate the city’s signal system into Sarasota and Manatee counties’ regional system.
• U.S. 41 and Main Street roundabout — The project not only would create a roundabout but includes possible retail opportunities along the route from downtown to the bayfront.
With U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, now sitting on the House Transportation Committee, commissioners are hopeful that he might be able to provide a little extra influence for those requests.
The congressman will be invited to a City Commission meeting in the near future, so commissioners can pitch him their projects.
The city will also seek money to help pay for the renourishment of Lido Beach, an upgraded record-management system for the Sarasota Police Department, a new public/private medical center for Newtown and the cleanup of contamination at the Marion Anderson brownfield site.
Lido Beach renourishment was on last year’s earmark list. Congress provided $250,000 for that project, but the city is requesting $500,000 more this year for permitting and design work.
The city’s lobbyist suggested not including a request that went unfulfilled last year, because it would likely not be met in 2011 either.
The creation of a homeless facility to provide daytime programs for the city’s homeless would cost an estimated $1 million.
A unanimous City Commission wanted Marlowe and Co. to request money for the project this year.
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