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Sarasota Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 8 years ago

Partnership offers possible dissolution

by: Robin Roy City Editor

The months-long, on-again, off-again talks between the Downtown Sarasota Alliance (DSA) and the Downtown Partnership may come to a close this week.

The Downtown Partnership presented an offer to the DSA last week, which calls for the DSA to consider putting Partnership members Lisette Levesque-Cain and John Moran on the DSA board of directors and Del Borgsdorf, Larry Fineberg and Roxanne Joffee on its advisory board.

Partnership Chairman Phil Chmieleski also asked the DSA if it would co-host the Partnership’s annual dinner Dec. 3, which is the group’s largest money-making event.

If the DSA agrees to those terms, Chmieleski said the Partnership would dissolve after seven years, and its members would be encouraged to join the DSA.

The Downtown Sarasota Alliance, though, only partially accepted that proposal. It has offered its only vacant board seat to Levesque-Cain and to expand its advisory board for Borgsdorf and Moran.

Wendy Getchell, DSA president, told Chmieleski that her group would not co-host or financially support the annual dinner, but said the DSA would buy an undetermined number of tables and market the dinner to its 200-plus members.

Chmieleski plans to meet with the Partnership’s executive board to discuss the offer. If the board does not accept those terms, Chmieleski said the Partnership will continue its current mission of advocating for downtown and holding educational breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

The DSA was originally supposed to include the Partnership in a three-way merger, along with the Downtown Merchants Association and Palm Avenue Merchants Association.

Negotiations began in the spring, but after they continued through the summer with little progress, the two merchants groups decided to exclude the Partnership from the merger.

If those talks had come to fruition, the Partnership’s members would have made up the majority of the merged group’s board.

The Alphabet Soup

Sarasota is home to a mélange of acronyms that describe various city organizations, some of which have overlapping goals and membership. To the casual observer, it can be confusing, so The Sarasota Observer deciphers the alphabet soup.

BID  ➤  Business Improvement District
St. Armand Circle’s special taxing district, which collects funds for capital-improvement projects.

CA  ➤  City Alliance   
Fewer than two-dozen business owners, merchants, residents and civic-group members who seek to improve Sarasota by advocating projects such as the Fruitville Road redesign and development of a downtown historic district.

CCNA  ➤   Coalition of City Neighborhoods Association   
The group’s goal is to preserve and enhance Sarasota’s neighborhoods.

CONA  ➤   Sarasota County Council of Neighborhoods Association   
The county’s version of CCNA.

DID  ➤   Downtown Improvement District    Downtown Sarasota’s version of St. Armand’s BID.

DP  ➤   Downtown Partnership   
Business-centric group that hosts breakfasts, luncheons and dinners.

DSA  ➤   Downtown Sarasota Alliance   Born of two downtown merchants associations, it seeks to represent all downtown groups including residents, business interests, churches and performing-art groups.


2002  Downtown Association board fires President Paul Thorpe and forms the Downtown Partnership.

2007  The Partnership, which controlled the Downtown Farmers Market, allows vendors to manage the market.

August 2007  Executive Director Tony Souza resigns to take a job with Habitat for Humanity.

December 2008  Debra Torres is hired as executive director.

April 2009  Torres resigns when the Partnership struggles to pay her salary.

May 2009  Merger talks begin between the Partnership and two merchant groups.

August 2009  Farmers market vendors ask City Commission for total control of the market.

September 2009
  Commissioners give vendors control of the farmers market.

September 2009  Merchant groups shut Partnership out of merger.

October 2009  Partnership offers to dissolve if Downtown Sarasota Alliance accepts board members and co-hosts annual dinner.

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