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Sarasota Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010 8 years ago

Atwell suggests city collaboration

by: Robin Roy City Editor

With two downtown groups considering hiring managers to run their operations, Commissioner Suzanne Atwell is suggesting a collaboration.

The Downtown Improvement District (DID) and the Downtown Sarasota Alliance (DSA) had separately discussed hiring a manager to oversee their interests.

Meanwhile, Atwell has been advocating the city hire an economic development coordinator to ensure Sarasota attracts new businesses and keeps the ones it already has.

She’s suggesting the three team together and hire one person to fill all their needs. Atwell is also asking the new Downtown Sarasota Council, formerly the Downtown Partnership, to take part.

“What a great way for the city to help stimulate downtown,” she said.

But before the idea sparked, the Downtown Improvement District and the Downtown Sarasota Alliance members threw a bit of cool water on it.

DID Chairman Larry Fineberg expressed interest in the idea himself, but the rest of his board was against the idea.

“I don’t see where we need a manager,” said Ernie Ritz, DID vice chairman and a DSA advisor.

Ritz said the DID’s main objectives — capital improvements and maintenance, — are already going to be managed by the city.

When Fineberg expressed frustration that the city moves slowly to accomplish those goals, City Manager Bob Bartolotta told him to give his office a call.

“Let me be (your manager),” said Bartolotta. “Downtown is a priority. We want to be partners.”

The DSA also was unenthusiastic about contributing to a common manager.

Wendy Getchell, DSA president, said her group does not have the budget to pay for someone in that position, and if it did hire its own manager, it would be someone who would simply monitor the group’s day-to-day operations, not a “big picture” person.

Atwell briefly brought up the topic at this week’s City Commission meeting and said she would like the entire commission to discuss the possibility of an economic-development coordinator at next week’s commission retreat.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected]


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