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Opinion
Sarasota Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2019 5 months ago

Letters to the editor Readers sound off on: Epoch, Selby, Orchestra

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STOP organizer says group wouldn't object to a specific project.
by: Guest Writer
STOP doesn’t object to individual projects

Several local news sources have recently cited allegations by Patrick DiPinto, the developer of the Epoch, that STOP is behind the appeal of the project’s approval to the Planning Board. This is false.

STOP has never taken a position on an individual project — even though we have been asked to do so many times. STOP is all about policy: We advocate for better transportation planning, public hearings for large new projects and wide sidewalks with room for trees and green space. Eighteen condominiums, neighborhood associations and civic groups have endorsed STOP based on those policy goals. We are all about good government process and have nothing to do with individual projects or with opposing growth.

So, to repeat: STOP is not involved in the Epoch appeal. It is Mr. DiPinto’s neighbors who have argued the building is incompatible and have appealed to the Planning Board.

Kate Lowman

On behalf of the STOP Steering Committee

 

Selby can move elsewhere to grow

Why does Selby Gardens need a rooftop restaurant? What does eating at an establishment operated by Michaels have to do with admiring botanicals? Did Marie Selby envision a commercial “Disney-type” attraction when she donated the land in her will? 

Does the residential neighborhood surrounding Selby deserve this commercial enterprise that brings with it increasing day and evening traffic? Selby openly communicates its desire to reinvent itself as a major destination and event center, which is admirable, except the traffic and noise associated with this plan will ruin the peaceful neighborhood feel around the gardens. I am a homeowner living in extremely close proximity to Selby. I bought my residence at Hudson Crossing in 2015. My wife and I picked this location to enjoy the safety and peacefulness of a suburban neighborhood. Prior to making my purchase I investigated local zoning and building codes to make absolutely certain my investment would be protected.

I fully expect Sarasota commissioners to do the right thing and enforce these same regulations. Please do the right thing, and do not allow this commercialization of Selby’s Master plan. If Selby wants to become Sarasota’s new commercial destination, let them move out of a residential neighborhood to a properly zoned commercial district — as Mote did.

Jim Gallagher

Sarasota

Selby plans are good for city

City of Sarasota residents and business owners need to pay attention to a trend in the city. What attracted us and continues to lure many tourists to Sarasota is that it possesses many big-city amenities without the big-city drive. 

   Recently, we have lost The Players Theatre and Mote Marine Aquarium; we may, and certainly deserve, to lose the Sarasota Orchestra; and, if Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ beauty was not so intrinsically linked to its location on the bayfront, based on lack of support from its neighbors, it would probably be in negotiations to sell to high-rise developers and to buy greater acreage in a more supportive community by now.

Over the last two years, Selby held over 15 meetings with its neighbors to solicit input regarding its master plan. In response to neighbors’ criticism of the original plan, it made numerous alterations to the plan, including maintaining an entrance and exit on U.S. 41 and reducing the size of the parking garage. These changes will result in $1.5 million in increased construction costs. Although $1.5 million is not a lot of money for many people in Sarasota, it is money that could have been spent funding science education programs and botanical research expeditions that would have benefited hundreds of people around the world as opposed to a few people down the block.

Some of Selby’s neighbors continue to oppose the master plan that is critical to Selby’s future. They want to deny Selby, a private landowner, the ability to provide sufficient parking on U.S. 41 for its visitors; adequately secure the second largest collection of preserved plant specimens in the world outside of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and a botany library with books dating back to the 1700s; and build a greenhouse complex strong enough to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and a restaurant that will provide an additional revenue stream making it less dependent on donations and grants.

Selby does not aspire to become Disney World-Sarasota; it simply wants to build infrastructure that will preserve Selby, both physically and financially, for generations of visitors. For the greater good, the city of Sarasota should ignore the protests of a selfish few. We cannot afford to lose another attraction.

J. Allison Archbold

Member, Board of Trustees, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Commission vote on orchestra showed courage

We should applaud the Sarasota City Commission for its vision and courage when it voted against the Sarasota Orchestra’s plan to build on a section of Payne Park.

The Payne family legacy has been in place for nearly a century.

Kudos to those who worked to uphold the wishes of their benefactors. There are many other alternatives for the orchestra to pursue, but there is only one Payne Park.

MP Everist

Sarasota

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