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Sarasota Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021 3 months ago

McClelland Park sees the light for entrance upgrade

Neighborhood launches fundraiser to replace 1970s era illumination.
by: Harry Sayer Staff Writer

McClellan Park is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Sarasota, and its residents pride themselves on that fact. 

Part of that pride involves keeping up appearances -- the McClellan Park Neighborhood Association has spearheaded small improvements and repairs to the area including new plaques for the neighborhood's entrances a few years ago. 

Work on those entrances got neighborhood association staff thinking that the lighting didn't quite match the historic feel. The round fixtures were installed in the 1970s and had seen better days.

After celebrating the area’s 100th anniversary in 2016, association president Dawn Mowery said she and other association members took a look around and decided on fixing small things that needed improving. 

They’re close to doing just that. The association has launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to collect enough money for six new light installations, with a few extra as backups. The neighborhood will replace them with carriage lantern-type lights that feel more appropriate for the area’s century of history.

“We decided that we needed to (do it),” Mowery said. “It was really a big project, we needed to embrace that and just get moving with it.”

The neighborhood can typically rely on a fall and springtime grant from Sarasota to help with improvements — it’s how they replaced the entrance plaques — but Mowery said COVID-19 stopped her members from going door-to-door to get signatures and attending seminars to get approval for a grant last year. She said the association plans to apply for a county grant in the future, which would cover half the expenses up to $10,000.

The association asked through its newsletters to have neighbors mail checks in, and eventually association treasurer Donald Perry converted the fundraiser to a GoFundMe campaign.

The fundraiser has raised nearly $1,600 of its $3,000 goal, though Mowery says it could cost more to have backups  and to get the lights working with an electrician. Members had consulted with the Cherokee Park neighborhood which also installed new lights recently and found the lights could cost $1,000 each. Mowery says the final cost is a moving target but believes it could come in at $6,000 at the low end and $10,000 at the high end. 

That’s not to say the new installations will disrupt the ambiance of the neighborhood. Rather than add figurative muscle by making the lights brighter, the new fixtures will focus on aesthetics. Mowery says the new lights will be more efficient and not add to light pollution in the area — she doesn’t want people to think the new lights will light up the area like a football field. 

The fundraiser is ongoing, but Mowery hopes they can start work on the project soon.

“McClellan Park is is just sort of tucked in here and very protected from a lot of issues,” Mowery said. “But we thought that this was something that we needed to do, to just dress it up and make it in keeping with the age of our neighborhood.”

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Harry Sayer is the Black Tie Reporter for the Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and previously worked the Black Tie beat for the Observer newspaper in Winter Park and Maitland. You can catch him at one of Sarasota's fundraisers and shindigs. 

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