+ Candidates reinforce their stance on issues at CONA forum
With a little more than a month left until the May 14 City Commission runoff election, the three candidates participated in a forum Monday, April 8.
During the bulk of the forum, hosted by Sarasota Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA), Suzanne Atwell, Susan Chapman and Richard Dorfman answered specific questions posed to each individual candidate.
The questions focused on park benches downtown; the pros and cons of an elected mayor; redevelopment on the North Trail; fractional leadership and environmental protection in the city. There were also questions about Walmart and density downtown.
Moderator Kafi Benz asked Suzanne Atwell to justify her vote to remove park benches downtown.
“Look, no one wants to go to a park where there are no benches,” Atwell said. “This reached a critical situation for us — all five of us (commissioners). People were saying, ‘You can’t come after the theater and sit down. We had to do something.
“Will I put the benches back? I say yes,” Atwell added. “I don’t know when.”
In response to a question about bringing business to Sarasota, Dorfman said he has heard from business owners who want to invest on the North Trail if the city supports redevelopment.
“Some have expressed interest in putting rental housing on the North Trail,” Dorfman said. “One talked about putting a Starbucks on the North Trail. Sixty-thousand cars a day, and we don’t have a Starbucks on the North Trail. If you can believe it.”
Chapman was asked about the perceived image that at times she is uncompromising.
Chapman cited her work to reach a compromise between neighbors and Sarasota Memorial Hospital on a power plant at the hospital’s campus as one example of her ability to build consensus. But Chapman said she is proud she has stood up for residents on tough issues.
“I am not ashamed I have been a strong advocate for people in this community,” Chapman said.
Throughout the forum, the candidates reinforced their previous stance on the big issues and described their political approach if they are elected.
+ Tandem parking up for City Commission vote
City commissioners April 15 will vote on the second reading of a zoning text amendment that would allow tandemfparking at certain developments built on Golden Gate Point.
If approved, the change would allow developers to include tandem parking — where two stacked cars park front bumper to back bumper to use less parking space — for projects that meet several specific criteria. The development, for example, must be capped at 50 feet in height and a maximum of four stories. Currently, projects on the 22-acre island near downtown can be built up to 90 feet in height.
City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo said the initiative is designed to encourage more compact residential building on smaller parcels on the island.
“This is an incentive for developers to build smaller properties, so that we aren’t pouring concrete into every last space,” Caragiulo said.
According to the proposed amendment, the tandem parking must be located on the development’s property and not on the street. Residential development may utilize tandem parking for same-unit parking only.
+ Patterson Foundation launches Legacy of Valor campaign
The Patterson Foundation announced the launch of its Legacy of Valor campaign Friday, April 5. The yearlong campaign will honor veterans and their families through community partnerships and events, and the campaign is an extension of the foundation’s partnership with the National Cemetery Administration to construct the ceremonial amphitheater, named Patriot Plaza, at Sarasota National Cemetery.
Patriot Plaza is expected to open in spring 2014, and Patterson Foundation CEO Debra Jacobs says she wanted to take advantage of the year leading up to the dedication to inspire Sarasota residents with a series of arts performances, educational programs and services.
Beginning now, and continuing into summer, the Patterson Foundation is asking community organizations to collaborate with one another to use their existing activities and events to inform people of the military and veteran activities in Sarasota and honor our servicemen and women.
During a celebration luncheon Friday, April 5, the Patterson Foundation announced the first 17 community partnerships, including the Sarasota Chalk Festival, which will adopt a Legacy of Valor theme next year; the Sarasota Film Festival, which will incorporate an “Acts of Valor” film series; the Ringling Museum, which will host a photo exhibition; and Sarasota Military Academy, which will continue its “Wreaths Across America” campaign.
Jacobs says the campaign will not only honor veterans, but also fit in with the Patterson Foundation’s mission to create partnerships and collaborations within the community.
+ Ringling announces 2014 lecture schedule
Attendees of the 2014 Ringling Town Hall Lecture Series will hear different perspectives of the post-9/11 era, including politicians, a photographer, a war correspondent and a military veteran.
Former President George W. Bush starts the series Jan. 14, the day after his daughter, Jenna Hager, speaks at the series’ platinum dinner event. Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will conclude the lectures March 20.
Members of the Ringling College Library Association will get a visual perspective Jan. 28 from photographer Platon, known for portraits of world leaders.
Attendees will hear a personal perspective from journalist Lara Logan Feb. 10. Rioters assaulted Logan during the Arab Spring. And author and Army veteran Wes Moore will speak about families, mentors, teachers and friends — support systems — March 6.
For more information, visit www.rclassociation.org.
Meetings & Agendas
• Regular City Commission Meeting — 2:30 and 6 p.m. Monday, April 15, Sarasota City Hall, Commission Chambers, 1565 First St., Sarasota.
• Sarasota County School Board Meeting — 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 16, Landings Administrative Complex, Green Awning Building, 1980 Landings Blvd., Sarasota
• Sarasota County/Manatee County Commission Meeting — 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota
• Sarasota County School Board Meeting — 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, Landings Administrative Complex, 1980 Landings Blvd., Sarasota.