The city moved ahead with two big projects this week, and All Faiths Food Bank is continuing its food drive and fundraising campaign.
Hunger: A long-term issue
The Stamp Out Hunger Letter Carrier food drive brought in an estimate of 115,000 pounds of food for All Faiths Food Bank Saturday.
While the number sounds impressive, that food only lasts six days during the summer months feeding families and children not in school, with 19,166 pounds of food needed per day. Sunday marked the end of the Campaign Against Summer Hunger for All Faiths, with a total of 1,037,000 pounds of food collected during that effort. However, that’s only enough food for 54 days of the summer.
All Faiths Food Bank is still accepting donations to meet the $600,000 matching goal (currently at $596,000) and food donations all summer long.
City commits to St. Armands garage, paid parking
In a split decision Monday, the Sarasota City Commission approved a $17.5 million bond to pay for a parking garage and other improvements near St. Armands Circle.
The 20-year bond comes with significant commitments. The city is agreeing to implement a paid parking system on St. Armands, both on-street and in the garage.
The city is also committing to use revenue from the parking meters — which aren’t scheduled to be installed until 2019 — to pay for the garage on North Adams Drive. As a result, the city doesn’t have the option to pull the plug if paid parking proves unpopular.
That’s not a concern for major stakeholders on St. Armands. Representatives for the merchants, landowners and residents groups all spoke in favor of the project.
Additional funding for the project will come from a $260,000 annual special assessment on property owners on the Circle.
Commissioners Shelli Freeland Eddie and Susan Chapman voted against the bond, citing concerns that the city was committing to a plan with no hard evidence the funding was sustainable.
“I think the all-or-nothing approach we’re taking is very concerning,” Eddie said.
Affordable housing plans back on track
Earlier this month, entrepreneur Harvey Vengroff openly declared his intent to withdraw plans for a 393-unit apartment complex at 2211 Fruitville Road.
On Monday, the City Commission unanimously approved a proposed comprehensive plan amendment that is necessary for the project to proceed — placing the development back on track.
When the city asked for a condition that would allow officials to conduct an annual inspection of the property, Vengroff threatened to abandon the project, upset by what he viewed as inequitable treatment compared to other private developments.
On Monday, the commission approved a revised amendment without the inspections. Instead, the city reserves the right to review the property’s annual insurance reports.
The city still needs to approve a more detailed site plan before the project can be built. Still, after the future of the project seemed bleak, Vengroff was encouraged that his proposal cleared this initial hurdle.
“Everybody knows you need affordable housing,” Vengroff said following the meeting. “They finally came around.”
Quote of the Week
“I think he was definitely able to slay a lot of myths.” — City Manager Tom Barwin, on Downtown Economic Development Coordinator Norm Gollub’s work bridging the public-private divide.
By The Numbers
5,000 — Books Ashton Elementary School parents and students donated to Emma E. Booker Elementary School.
60 — The number of vendors Sarasota Farmers Market Executive Director Phil Pagano will consider asking the city to move during impending construction.
15 — Hours 10-year-old tennis player Andrew Salu spends training each week.
Parking Advisory Committee meeting — 4:30 p.m. Monday, May 23, Room 112, City Hall, 1565 First St., Sarasota
Regular County Commission meeting — 9 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, May 23 and 24, Commission Chambers, County Administration Building, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota