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Atkins: Park plan is anti-homeless

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  • | 4:00 a.m. June 10, 2010
  • Sarasota
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As members of the Downtown Improvement District asked the City Commission for its approval Monday for a beautification project in Five Points Park, they ran into opposition from Vice Mayor Fredd Atkins.

“I’ve got serious issues with this,” he said.

The vice mayor believes what’s being billed as an effort to rejuvenate the park is a ploy to remove transients.

“What you’re trying to do is remove homeless people,” he said.

Andrew Foley, DID board member, defended the park-improvement process.

“It’s never been our agenda to limit the park to any types of people,” he said.

Atkins was alone in his opposition of the beautification project, and it was approved 4-1.

The DID plans to make the park more accessible by removing the concrete wall that surrounds it and level the land so it’s even with the sidewalk.

The result will add about 6 feet more greenspace to the Pineapple Avenue side of the park. However, when coupled with a brick pathway bisecting the park and a 15-foot performance platform, there will be a small net loss in greenspace.

Three commissioners didn’t want to lose greenspace and asked the DID to redesign the pathway. It had been planned as 12 feet wide for most of its length, but as it approached the Pineapple Avenue sidewalk, it expanded to about 30 feet wide.

Commissioners Terry Turner, Dick Clapp and Mayor Kelly Kirschner wanted to eliminate the expansion and leave it at 12 feet wide.

The cost of the improvements are estimated at $135,000; the DID will pay for all but $5,000. The city’s public works department will pay the balance.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].


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