Skip to main content
Suzanne Atwell, city commissioner
Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 4 years ago

Holiday wish lists


Paul Thorpe, “Mr. Downtown”
We live in one of the finest cities in our country. My wish list would be that we all work harder with each other as individuals — and as organizations — to continue to make our great city the best place to live, work and play. The decisions we all make today will benefit our future generations.

Our elected officials must work with their constituents for the betterment of Sarasota's proper growth. We need to research the need for increased density to create affordable housing and rental properties for our young working population.

We need to improve our permitting process and speed it up so we can encourage the type of development we seek for Sarasota. Again, it is vitally important that all downtown and suburban residents work together with elected officials to continue to keep Sarasota one of the best small cities in the country.

Robin Rose, executive director of Girls Inc. of Sarasota
As a new executive in the Sarasota nonprofit community, I am struck by the amazing generosity of this city’s donors. My main Christmas wish would be that as a community, we continue to embrace and fund the myriad agencies who work diligently to positively impact the educational, social, emotional and physical health-and-wellness needs of all our community’s children.

It really does take a village to raise our children, and the more we invest in them now, the better our homes, schools, community and ultimately, our world, will become in the future. In addition, I would love to see more collaboration and partnerships develop between agencies who have similar missions to help ensure more of our community’s youth and adults are able to receive the invaluable services that are so necessary to their survival and ability to thrive. This would also give donors an increased return on investment of their donations.

Suzanne Atwell, city commissioner
The clarion call on my first campaign in 2005 when asked why I am running: I answered: “Because I want to bring innovative thinking, openness to new ideas, and a fresh perspective to our city. I believe I can help lift us out of the economic downturn, and re-energize a city with an international reputation for creativity and progressive ideals”

We are moving forward with these ideals. As we emerge from the recession we need to constantly poise ourselves for that.

Beginning with my fondest wish — that we cease marching in lock step with those that are like-minded and like-behaving, heading to corners of the city with those we are most comfortable and agree with. Let’s break bread with our adversaries and work on a culture of collaboration, cooperation and creativity.

1. Keeping the momentum alive with the homelessness efforts to establish shelters throughout the county. The investment of so many stakeholders is a testament to this.

2. Reaching the full potential of Payne Park — while embracing its history.

3. Creating diverse housing downtown, balancing urban with moderate density for full potential in neighborhoods such as the Rosemary District. We need more people downtown, living, working and playing.

4. Staying focused on a modern, comprehensive, and fiscally responsible transportation/parking management system — citywide — that will eliminate patchwork solutions and achieve a more seamless landscape.

5. Continuing to embrace our Urban Design Studio that is bringing our entire community to state of the art land use. This brings all neighborhoods together with the development community in achieving predictability, compatibility, and trust.

6. Expanding the CRA — if we are serious about sustainable economic development, we need to move forward on continuing and being creative with this critical tool:

7. There is momentum on the North Trail…lets keep it up.

8. Moving forward with the Mobility Plan that will highlight progressive urban transportation solutions — especially downtown, which is prime for state of the art connectivity demanding multi-modal design.
And, finally: Although we didn’t get far with the “Mice on Main”-like interactive project downtown, we now have the pianos. What a great way to debut our beautiful new streetscape. Downtown is the heartbeat of our community so….let’s play!

Here’s to a wonderful New Year for a great City!

Tom Barwin, city manager
10. We all strive to keep things in perspective, try to trust each other and most importantly keep our fingers crossed for another prolific breeding season for our region’s sea turtles.

9. Achieving over 80% of the City Commission’s Strategic Plans, Goals, Objectives and 216 tasks as occurred in 2013.

8. Understanding of the essential need for Lido Beach shoreline restoration and protection. Our laid-back, world-class public beaches are our major asset, attraction and a great natural stress reducer.

7. Community support in nurturing the growth of our three outstanding universities, Mote Marine Laboratory, Save our Seabirds, their faculties and students.

6. Successfully rebooting our efforts to implement the cultural district plan while strengthening our amazing and magnificent cultural attractions which collectively make Sarasota the special and magical place it is to learn, sing, dance, play music, act, sculpt, paint, write, take pictures or just enjoy them and enjoy life.

5. Continued public participation with our Urban Design Studio in the crafting of a new form-based zoning code, which will improve the connectivity, predictability and design of our community for generations to come. Place still matters.

4. Implementing all 12 recommendations in the Marbut homelessness plan, which has also served as an example and model of how Sarasota County, its cities, foundations and not-for-profits can work successfully together. Such synergy can pay big dividends when it comes to job creation, transportation improvements and affordable housing.

3. Begin the uninterrupted completion of Lift Station 87 and update the Bobby Jones Golf Course Master Plan.

2. Perfect Partnership Policing as our community continues to reduce crime and strengthen its commitment to diversity.

1. Love, happiness and good health for our 550 dedicated city employees, 62,000 wonderful full-time/seasonal residents, 85,000 daily population, and 1.5 million visitors each year.

Dr. Michael P. Crosby, president and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory
Ocean literacy: Our community is fascinated with the oceans, just like our scientists and educators at Mote. However, many underestimate how much our oceans matter to life on Earth. More than 2.6 billion people rely on seafood as a major source of protein. Half of Earth’s oxygen comes from phytoplankton, tiny ocean life forms. Our own Sarasota Bay is an estuary of national significance, providing essential habitat for many animals. A major goal of our informal science education programs here is to help more members of our community understand why oceans matter, and why science is important in helping to inform decisions that may impact marine and coastal ecosystems.

Volunteerism: Like many nonprofits, Mote benefits immeasurably from hardworking volunteers — in our case, more than 1,600 this year. In 2014, I hope to see this selfless spirit grow to benefit all nonprofits in need and our entire community.

Working together: I would like to see more local organizations team up to solve problems important to our community. I’ve experienced the power of teamwork firsthand during our efforts to restore depleted scallop populations here. Mote scientists are developing and implementing shellfish restoration projects by working closely with community volunteers in Sarasota Bay Watch, the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and other partners — including international partners from Japan and even local high schools students. I hope such teamwork will flourish in the future.

Appreciation: The New Year is a great time to renew our appreciation for iconic programs that give back to Sarasota. For example, Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol has monitored local nesting beaches to help conserve endangered sea turtles, providing data to local municipalities and educating local residents, for more than 31 years — even while funding sources have fluctuated, declined or disappeared. I encourage readers to find the program most meaningful to them and support it however they can.

Bernadette DiPino, Sarasota Chief of Police
As we enter 2014, I'll be entering my second year as Chief of the Sarasota Police Department. In 2013, we accomplished so much and I'm looking forward to a bright future as we move into 2014.

My wishes for 2014 are:

1. We decrease crime overall in the City of Sarasota in partnership with our community.

2. See an increase in relationships and trust between the Sarasota Police Department and our community.

3. See increased customer service and response to victims of crime as well as increase crime prevention and encourage citizens to report suspicious behaviors and crimes to police.

4. Provide housing and help for those individuals that need it in the City of Sarasota.

5. Increase mentorships between officers and children in our community.

6. See our community make positive strides, a move forward helping people one person at a time.

7. Increase in Succession Planning and Leadership Development in the Sarasota Police Department.

8. Increase training and continued professionalism for the Sarasota Police Department.

9. See an increase in people visiting, working and playing in the City of Sarasota.

10. Have a balmy 78° sunny day every day with no hurricanes, tropical storms, hazardous weather.

11. Peace, health and prosperity for everyone.

12. For everyone to be safe and to follow us on social media

Bob Easterle, Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations president
A functional, collaborative, supportive, and collegial City Commission.

Commissioners who take a traditional employer/employee role: supporting and helping the staff they have hired to be successful and perform optimally.

A Commission that continues aggressively addressing budget and pension crisis issues.

Our already generous city be a full participant in development of state-of the art, caring homeless solutions that costs and impacts shared fully by all parts of the county and not concentrated in our city’s poorest areas or downtown.

A Commission that exercises great care and caution, and solicits maximum community involvement, as a new Form Based Code is developed. Take the time to do it right!

A Commission that gives vigorous input into the county’s 2050 plan and works to protect the future of our city and the county cities as that plan moves forward.

A joint effort by cities in Sarasota County to pursue dual taxation issues.

Improved training for Advisory Board members that ensures all city business is conducted on city e-mail accounts so as to avoid Sunshine lawsuits.

Sunshine watchdogs who work with the city and elected and advisory officials for “cures” rather than gotchas that bring money to litigator.

A Commission that supports a vigorous defense to the First Amendment right of citizens to assemble and meet with elected officials, at issue in the

Maj. Ethan Frizzel, area commander at the Sarasota Salvation Army
As the toys for Christmas are lined up for the wonderful children of our community, our Christmas wish is the opportunity to encourage children throughout the year. Our wish is that of the more than 2000 children we serve at Christmas, 10% or 200 have the opportunity for summer day camp and summer learning day camp. Giving Christmas gifts share the Joy of the Season. Camp changes a lifetime.

Summer learning day camp allows children to overcome the summer learning gap. Summer camp allows these same children a week away at residential camp where children enjoy horseback riding, swimming pools, regular meals and lifelong memories. As we hold the gifts for Christmas, our wish for 2014 is that each child has the privilege of connecting Hope to Opportunity. A $220 donation will send a child to Camp Keystone for a week. To donate, call 364-8845.

Cheryl Gaddie, president of the Siesta Key Village Association
During the time I have been honored to serve as the Siesta Key Village Association president, communication has been high and working relationships for all continues to be diligent with a commitment to our village and Siesta Key.

I would like to express my appreciation to our board of directors for making events happen, our village beautiful and their work with others for the benefit of our forever No. 1 beach and island lifestyle.

Wish List:

• For a successful beginning to the Siesta Key Beach Renovation Project

• That the community continues working closely with residents and business for collaboration on community projects

• That we secure recycling containers for Siesta Key Village

• I have high hopes for our designated trolley system to begin in 2014 in order to better accommodate our visitors with transportation options.

• For a successful year to our businesses and accommodations

• For continued progress on the work and camaraderie being established on Siesta Key involving the understanding of the Siesta Key Overlay District

Merry Christmas to all and a wonderful New Year!

Tom Knight, Sarasota County Sheriff
Personally, I wish I was 20 pounds lighter and had my hair back, but I won’t be selfish with my wish list for 2014.

Safety and Security

My first wish would be for Sarasota County to continue to raise its profile as the premier community on the west coast of Florida in which to live, work and visit. We would of course continue the substantial decline in crime that we have seen over the past five years to make the quality of life in our piece of paradise even greater.

I wish that citizens remain dedicated to creating workable solutions for the homeless, and in particular, women with children. Also that more families will connect with the resources they need, including employment, education and positive role models, so we can see a significant reduction in related problems including domestic violence and substance abuse.

That, much like our community is becoming a model for dealing with homelessness, we will begin the process of better identifying, protecting, mentoring and redirecting at-risk youth. In the years to come, I would like to be able to say that we are leading the nation in finding innovative and collaborative strategies to help more children vulnerable to homelessness, abuse or incarceration find pathways to a better future.

Just as I do every year, I hope and pray that the members of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office are healthy and that we do not have to experience a tragedy within our family, whether from illness or injury in the line of duty.

Cathy Layton, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Board president
I wish that:

• Our county becomes an example for other communities in effectively addressing homelessness — not by plans or hopes, but through results. We know we have a problem; experts have told us what works. There is momentum, interest and means. What more is there to discuss?

• Someone challenges those aspects of the Sunshine Law that hamper good government and discourage positive community activism, while boosting the coffers of specialized lawyers at taxpayers' expense. In some ways, we are so far from the original intent of the law it is laughable.

• Every family in town with kids make at least one visit to Marie Selby Gardens' new Ann Goldstein Children's Rainforest Garden. It's terrific!

• Civic-minded, vibrant people continue to relocate here, and find a place for their talents, time and interests.

Lori White, Superintendent, Sarasota County Schools
As we all look ahead to 2014, I have several holiday wishes and hopes I’d like to share:
I wish that no child would go hungry. Although we are known as an affluent community, more than 50 percent of the students in our county-wide school district receive free-and reduced-cost meals, and many more families may qualify for this program.

I hope all our employees in district schools and departments appreciate how much the work they do supports our students and prepares them for rewarding, productive lives.

I wish that parents continue to receive the support they need from our teachers and administrators so they can be actively engaged in their children’s education.

I hope students in our high schools who are preparing for college and careers have the opportunity to continue their education in the area and find satisfying jobs here if they choose to stay.

Finally, in this season of giving, I wish to thank our wonderful community for their generous support of our public schools — including volunteers and business partners, local foundations and voters. They continue to make this a wonderful place to live, work and play.

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy holiday season!

Lourdes Ramirez, president of Sarasota Council of County Neighborhood Associations
It is Sarasota Council of Neighborhood Associations’ (CONA) wish that the Sarasota County Commissioners cease their attempts to gut the Sarasota 2050 land use regulations for developments east of I-75. By attempting to shift the costs of new infrastructure (roads, sewers, schools etc.) away from the new developments and onto the backs of the county taxpayers, the County Commissioners are choosing to over burden the existing residents. We wish that the commissioners would consider that the existing taxpayers face our local economy with few jobs available and are already strained with increases in health, wind and flood insurance, to name a few. It is CONA’s wish that the County Commission keep the promises they made during the development the Sarasota 2050 land use plan to avoid sprawling development, protect the environment and keep 'fiscal neutrality' intact (ensuring new development pays for new infrastructure needed to support the new development).

We wish our local elected officials would focus their attention on redevelopment of the land west of I-75 (the core of our community) where it has fallen into disrepair, old age, blight, and neglect. The people who live west of I-75 are experiencing their neighborhoods being left to decay in favor of new building in the rural areas east of I-75.

CONA wishes the commissioners would cut out unnecessary spending of our tax money. Knowing that we will run out of county 'reserve' funds in the near future, we wish the County Commissioners will cease authorizing excessive spending on 'pet' projects, including the superfluous consultant’s fees. CONA wishes our elected officials would focus on the needs and interests of the majority of Sarasota County citizens.

Lucy V. Nicandri, vice president of Suncoast Charities for Children
My wish list for the Sarasota community, as a whole, would be to continue to embrace and support as many diverse and inclusive outdoor special events as possible. It is important to maintain a fresh look on opportunities to partner and how we can all work together towards a successful outcome to support this great community we live in. Suncoast Charities for Children produces two of the biggest Festivals held each year in Sarasota — the Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix Festival and Thunder By The Bay Motorcycle Festival. The Suncoast Foundation for Handicapped Children produces the Suncoast BBQ Bash in Venice. These festivals, run by two staff members, engage the efforts of over 500 volunteers. They generate a significant economic impact (collectively well over $25 Million). More importantly, they generate critical revenue support for special needs children, teens, adults and their families that might not be available to them otherwise. It is my wish that the Sarasota community, whether they attend these events or not, take the time to understand and learn about the impact these festivals have on various local non-profits. My other wish is for the continued growth in sports tourism, as it has done great things for the Sarasota community and proves partnerships work!

Denise Kowal, Sarasota Chalk Festival founder
I wish our downtown would grow upward and our community would stop sprawling out. I wish upon us... creative diversity and space to invent, build, design, work, compose and interpret; physical and mental health where everyone has food, shelter and work; a community were we are protected and feel affection through our connections, friendships, family and relationships with nature; tools to learn and embrace curiosity, intuition and take time to study, mediate and investigate; support for equal rights of others through autonomy, passion and open-mindedness; a sense of place and belonging that gives space for growth, imagination, tranquility and spontaneity; motivation to do better tomorrow than we did today; and... more time to chalk in the streets.

Paul Caragiulo, city commissioner
My community wishes:

1. A happy, healthy and prosperous 2014 for EVERYONE; Yes, even those whom I may find intolerable.

2. Seeing our community’s homeless initiative come to fruition.


Related Stories