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Longboat Key Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 3 months ago

Carousel proposed for St. Armands Circle

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Stakeholders offer initial encouragement for attractions.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Could a carousel be coming to St. Armands Circle Park? How about a statue of daredevil Nik Wallenda?

The St. Armands Business Improvement District discussed a pair of concepts last week that would add new features to the park at the center of the barrier island commercial hub. The board expressed preliminary support for both.

The carousel proposal came from Jeff Koffman of Ride Entertainment, a company that provides services to theme parks and other amusement facilities. In addition to the carousel, Koffman’s proposal for the park included games, swings and photo-friendly circus-themed features, all within a roped-off area requiring a fee.

Another group brought the concept of the Wallenda statue to Sarasota staff in 2020 and got a positive response, the city's Planning Director Steve Cover said. Cover said the idea was to do an interactive piece that would allow visitors to pose alongside the artwork. The group has not developed a design or raised funds for the art, which likely wouldn’t be complete until 2022 even if the city supports the idea, Cover said.

Both proposals drew some questions from the BID about permanence, aesthetics and the flexibility to accommodate events in the park. Still, board members encouraging both presenters to move forward.

Board member Gavin Meshad said the ideas were in line with the group’s efforts to revitalize St. Armands Circle and add more amenities. Even if the carousel and statue don’t work out, the BID is interested in making changes to make St. Armands Circle Park more of an attraction.

“It’s an underutilized asset in the Circle,” Meshad said.

Crossing guards are expected to begin working in the circle March 6 until early April to assist in keeping traffic moving through the often-congested shipping district. They will be on duty from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and from noon-6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. 

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