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Editorial Letters – Week ending October 23, 2020

Longboat Key News encourages Letters to the Editor on timely issues. Please email to: letters@lbknews.com or mail to PO Box 8001, Longboat Key, FL 34228. We also print letters sent to Longboat Key Town Hall that address Longboat Key issues as well as Sarasota City Hall that address Sarasota issues. We reserve the right to edit.

Unconditional Surrender is not Art

To: Editor

“Unconditional Surrender” is not a work of Art. It is a copy of a newspaper photograph.

If you want to see Art and have a few minutes, go to Van Wazel and look at the tall sculpture in front of it. At the entrance to the sculpture which is across from the entrance to Van Wazel

is an explanation on a sign on the ground.  It is about the sculpture and nothing else.

Bernice Sapirstein Davis

Sarasota

 

A letter from a kid who cares

To: Editor

I have seen some opposition to the Manatee County bond referendum. These people state that we should not be paying more money. Isn’t it worth it since this $29 will ensure we don’t destroy our drinking water supply? Some people have argued that Manatee County has plenty of money to spend on land preservation, but there is actually no dedicated source of funding to save land. Many people also argue that now is not the time for a new tax. If not now, when? The last remaining wild areas must be saved now, because they will soon be gone. These areas are likely irreplaceable. Once they are gone, they are gone, and we have already lost most of them. This may be our only chance to ensure the next generation (your kids and grandkids) has a chance to marvel at the natural world. You have watched ospreys and pelicans soaring through the sky, landing in the mangroves, and catching fish. But it is a possibility that my kids won’t see these beautiful creatures. It is our responsibility to ensure they will know the magical world of nature we know.

Brice Claypoole

Age 12

 

Construction concerns

To: Editor

I have just returned to Longboat for the season. I am dismayed to see the construction on Ringling, north side into St. Armand’s still under construction. It almost looks like nothing has changed. Each time I drive by I see few, if any, men and equipment, working on this project. I would love to know the cost of this project, the contract allotted time for project completion and the liquated damages amount for time exceeding project completion.  It would appear that this contract will again go through ‘high season’ with more traffic congestion. Is this project a City of Sarasota of Federal Government Project?

Paul B. Ahern

Longboat Key

 

ManaSota League of Cities meeting

To: Longboat Key Vice Mayor Mike Haycock

Will you be attending the November 12, 2020, meeting of ManaSota League of Cities?  We need one more member to have a quorum.  The meeting will be in-person in the Longboat Key Commission Chamber at 9:30 a.m.  We have a special presentation by the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation.  The Board will be updated on the efforts of the organization in the community and likely include forecasts for future economic recovery probabilities caused by Covid-19. Hope you will be able to participate.

Gail Loeffler

Administrative Coordinator

ManaSota League of Cities, Inc.

 

Considerations associated with gatherings during COVID

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

Charles Henry and I discussed how the current Phase 3 actions relate to public gatherings.  He said that there are currently no specific number thresholds, but in terms of event size, he stated just be aware that as events get larger, the risk of COVID-19 spread increases.  Less than 10, low risk; less than 50, moderate risk; 250 or more, high risk.

He also shared some general guidance listed below from the FDOH website:

Considerations for Postponing or Cancelling a Mass Gathering

There are a number of factors to consider when determining the need to postpone or cancel a large gathering.  These include:

The overall number of attendees. Larger gatherings (for example, more than 250 people) offer more opportunities for person-to-person contact and therefore pose greater risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The number of people attending who are at greater risk of more serious illness after contracting COVID-19. Older adults and persons with severe pre-existing health conditions are thought to be at increased risk.

The density of attendees within a confined area. Based on what is currently known about the virus, spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts (within 6 feet). The potential economic impact to participants, attendees, staff, and the larger community.

The level of transmission in your local community and the level of transmission in the areas from which your attendees will travel.  To better understand the level of community transmission in your community (and in the communities from which your attendees will be traveling), consult with your local and/or state public health department.

If there are ways in which to significantly reduce the number of attendees. For example, for sporting events or school concerts, organizers could consider holding the event but significantly reduce the number of audience members.

At a minimal-to-moderate level of community transmission, it is recommended to:

Cancel community-wide mass gatherings (for example, more than 250 people; the cutoff threshold is at the discretion of community leadership based on the  current circumstances the community is facing and the nature of the event or move to smaller groupings.

Cancel gatherings of more than 10 people for organizations that serve higher-risk populations.

At a substantial level of community transmission, it is recommended to cancel mass gatherings of any size.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Public transit system

To: Longboat Key Commission

Commissioners, FYI.  Attached is a draft letter that the staff prepared from the Mayor and Town Commission to the Sarasota County Commission regarding public transit. We plan to bring this up on Monday at the workshop under the transportation planning item.

The Sarasota County Commission is considering an update on their public transit system (SCAT) on October 21st and we thought it would be helpful for the Commission to reinforce the Town’s position directly to the County Commissioners in advance of their meeting.  Isaac and I will be available to answer any question and finalize the letter at the meeting.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Crosswalks

To: Longboat Key Commission

My husband and I were crossing Gulf of Mexico Drive into Country Club Shores, we pushed the button, the yellow light started flashing and we waited, the car seemed to slow, my husband passed first-and I thought that all was safe, but when I stepped out the car accelerated.

We notified the police. It’s not the first time drivers have disrespected the yellow flashing light, but this time it was really close/scary for us.

I’m the daughter of a policeman and a first responder myself. I believe that if the light were a flashing red, it could be a safer intersection for all.

The yellow light is confusing for pedestrians and drivers in my opinion. I thought it was the law or a law in Florida that in a crosswalk pedestrians had the right of way. The yellow light definitely sends a mixed message to drivers and pedestrians in my opinion. Thank you for responding and hopefully considering a follow up that makes safer crossing of Gulf of Mexico Drive possible for all us.

Tammy Sachs

Longboat Key

 

Crosswalks

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

Thank you for responding.  In answer to the question, it was the crosswalk at country club shores entry and Longboat Key Club Drive, just south of Beachplace.

Tammy Sachs

Longboat Key

 

Crosswalks

To: Tammy Sachs

We have had the same experience at the pedestrian crossing mid island by the Michael Saunders office. I will bring this to the Commission and hope we can correct the problem.

BJ Bishop

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Crosswalks

To: Longboat Commissioner BJ Bishop

Thank you very much. A simple thing like a red flashing stop light/cross walk could save lives or at the very least serious injury.

Tammy Sachs

Longboat Key

 

Crosswalks

To: Longboat Key Vice Mayor Mike Haycock

I was almost hit by a car tonight. My husband had called the police. Why are the lights yellow instead of red? What is it that you guys do except get free lightning rods?

Could you all please do something for the full time residents of Longboat?

I’m a nurse, and I was thinking that if you all were my patients I would do my best to ensure your health and safety. I haven’t seen evidence that you all do a darn thing for your constituents.

Tammy Sachs

Longboat Key

 

Crosswalks

To: Tammy Sachs

Thanks for your input.  We asked for flashing red lights at the outset but the state insists that red lights are not permitted for this situation.

Ed Zunz

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Crosswalks

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Ed Zunz

We appreciate the crosswalks. Please change them from yellow to red. The yellow lights are not respected.

Tammy Sachs

Longboat Key

 

Crosswalks

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Can you share with Tammy the reason why FDOT won’t let us use red lights at our crossing and see if we can address issue  with them again.

Mike Haycock

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Crosswalks

To: Tammy Sachs

Commissioner Haycock, thanks for forwarding. Tammy, I wanted to thank you and Chris for reporting the incident to the police department. I saw Chris’s social media posting last night and immediately forwarded it to our Police Chief and Public Works Director.  I also sent it directly to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Secretary.  It is very important to document these types of incidents to help highlight the safety concerns as we continue to discuss safety on Gulf of Mexico Drive (GMD) with the State.

Gulf of Mexico Drive is obviously a State Road and there is State criteria and a Standard that determines what type of crossings are installed.  We have had on-going discussions with the FDOT on the pedestrian crossings (with the yellow lights) on the island.  They are their standard for GMD and similar roadways.  We have expressed safety concerns to them and shared other examples of drivers not slowing down for the yellow flashing lights.

As you mentioned, the State also installs HAWK Signals with the red lights like they did on US 41 in downtown Sarasota.  We have been told based on their criteria Gulf of Mexico Drive does not qualify for the HAWK signal.

This is not just a Longboat Key issue.  We are also monitoring the same discussions on the east coast of Florida (Satellite Beach in Brevard County) where unfortunately a 12-year-old was struck and killed in 2019 crossing the road along AIA at one of the flashing yellow crosswalks.  As the result of that fatality, the local governments in the area have been pushing hard to see their yellow flashing pedestrian crossing lights be switched out to a HAWK system with the red lights.  Last year a local State Representative from that area (Rep. Fine) sponsored a bill (HB 1371) in Tallahassee requiring pedestrian crossings to switch from yellow to red.  That bill was unsuccessful last session.

We will be following up with FDOT again based on your experience yesterday and can use your example to help reinforce the on-going safety concerns.

Thanks again for letting us know of your unfortunate experience yesterday.  Our Public Works Director Isaac Brownman and I are available to discuss further.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Crosswalks

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Tom, thank you very much for the information and update. The initial fright is wearing off and I appreciate getting a more thorough understanding of the situation. I’d like to know if there is anything else we can do? Can we install a traffic camera? I would be happy to donate to a fund? Or, perhaps more signage before the crosswalks to reinforce the “Stop for pedestrians” message? If there is anything Chris and I can do, please let us know.

Tammy Sachs

Longboat Key

 

MPO’s long range study

To: Longboat Key Commission

As you are aware the MPO’s 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan is scheduled for review and approval by the MPO on October 26th. The Commission will receive an update at Monday’s Workshop.  The 2045 Plan doesn’t specifically reference the Town’s work to develop a complete streets plan for GMD and the current effort to advance the CCS turn lane improvements. We have reached out to the MPO staff and requested that they add a reference to that initiative to the Long Range Transportation  Plan. We believe that will not only recognize the initiative but also serve as a placeholder for future FDOT/MPO funding.

Isaac and I discussed this strategy with Commissioner Daly last week in preparation for the upcoming MPO meeting. As a follow up, we provided the following background information to the MPO staff regarding the Town’s GMD Corridor Plan.

In 2017, the Town funded and received concepts for a complete streets corridor for Gulf of Mexico Drive, including illustrative segment layouts.  The Town Commission has recently confirmed its endorsement of the concept and has included it as one of the Town’s long-term initiatives.

The Town has funded design of a 1-mile center-turn lane, which design has been modified to incorporate complete streets elements such as reduced speed, raised medians and buffered bike lanes.  That design is 100% complete and is in final FDOT permitting.  The FDOT has included the project in its five (5) year work program.

The Town has funded the PD&E portion of the Broadway Street at Gulf of Mexico Drive roundabout as a complete streets intersection improvement.

We did receive a favorable response on Friday from the MPO staff that a reference to this initiative will be added to the Plan before it is finalized   This will be mentioned as part of the update on Monday.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

MPO’s long range study

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

Following up our Thursday discussions, I followed up with MPO’s Dave Hutchinson on Friday. Well done on another good team effort.

Tammy Sachs

Longboat Key

 

Don’t Make a Big Mistake in Wording of The Bay Agreements

To: Sarasota City Commission

This is to urge that you make an essential correction of an error in the proposed Interlocal Agreement and Ordinance for Tax Increment Financing for “The Bay,” before you consider their approval Monday night.

That is to strike the phrase “including a new performing arts center” following the statement that capital facilities at The Bay shall be built with the TIF revenue.

Another option would be to change the phrase to “which may include funding for a new performing arts center.”

So why does that need to be done?

The current wording commits you to use all of the limited TIF money for a new performing arts center, because that is the only project singled out as a commitment for funding with the TIF.

And if you do that you will not have enough TIF money for anything else!

Important facts:

The TIF will bring in $189 million over its 30 years, by skimming off any increased ad valorem tax revenue from property in the large district around The Bay.   That’s $92 million from the City and $97 million from the County, assuming taxable values in the district increase 6 to 8% a year for the first 10 years and 4% per year thereafter and there is no change in the tax rate.   (if those projections are too rosy then all City taxpayers must pay the shortfall for any bond).

Again, details aside, only $189 million comes in from the TIF over 30 years.

The new performing arts center is estimated to cost $240 to 270 million! (The Observer 1/29/19)

Even without considering the need for much of the  $189 million from the TIF to pay bond interest, fulfilling that obligation to fund a performing arts center will leave nothing for any other capital improvement at “The Bay.”

The Bay’s website estimates the cost of all of its planned capital facilities, including a new performing arts center and its garage, at $500 million.  For improvements to the park alone, it estimates a cost of $100 million to $150 million.

It will be nice if you get lots of charitable contributions but you can’t count on them for hundreds of millions of dollars to do good things planned at The Bay if you squander your only certain revenue on an expensive new performing arts center.

If you strike the six controlling words or make the alternative suggested edit, that will leave the TIF funds more broadly open to any capital facility projects at The Bay, to be determined later as the Agreement provides.

That also will have the benefit of leaving open how a new performing arts center would be funded, perhaps with a bond issue approved by the voters.

Frankly, the use of taxpayer funds for a new performing arts center should be subject to fuller public debate and referendum approval rather than disposing of the issue in the adoption of the six troublesome words Monday evening, in the midst of a pandemic.

If scarce taxpayer dollars are to go to build an expensive new performing arts center to which many Sarasota taxpayers cannot afford tickets rather than to pay for other important needs (unfunded pension obligations, fixes to aging infrastructure, economic development in areas of greatest need, to name only a few), in the process replacing the iconic Van Wezel, then the people should be able to weigh in on that more specifically than they have been allowed to do to date.

The outlines of The Bay project also need to be more fully developed before you commit to building the new performing arts center with TIF tax dollars.

The Bay plan presented to the public and approved by the City Commission including moving the parking underground, to turn asphalt to green space.  As I warned, that proved too expensive.  So now it is proposed to simply eliminate much of the parking, beginning even now in the proposed Phase One.  With a  garage for the new performing arts center included, the current plan is to provide only 849 parking spaces at The Bay, compared to the current count of 1,427 spaces — which were often fully used before the pandemic and will fill again when it is gone.  That’s at least better than an earlier draft, which called for cutting the parking by two-thirds, on the assumption that people would walk, bike and carpool to the expanded performing arts center and many other new attractions at The Bay.  While the new plan also calls for 500 spaces somewhere off site, a place for that has not been identified not has its cost or convenience.

So this scheme to eliminate parking at The Bay while increasing trips to its attractions is just more of the insane insistence of City staff to make driving difficult to somehow force people out of their cars.  It needs to be rejected and TIF funds used for a bigger parking garage, if the asphalt-to-greenspace conversion is to remain a key component of The Bay.  That will put even a greater squeeze on the use of the TIF revenue.

So why jump the gun now by committing the limited TIF funds to construction of a new performing arts center?

Let’s assume that the six words I have identified are an unintended drafting error.

And then correct that error before it is too late and a huge mistake and very bad public policy are irrevocably made. Thank you for your considerations.

Dan Lobeck

Condominium and Planned Development Law

 

Don’t Make a Big Mistake in Wording of The Bay Agreements

To: Dan Lobeck

Thank you Dan for your feedback and suggestions!

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

TIF Funds

To: Sarasota City Commission

I can understand and appreciate Dan’s concern and apprehension about expenditure of the TIF funds. Chief Deputy County Attorney Karl Senkow drafted the agreement and I know from our conversations on the subject that spending all of the TIF funds on the performing arts center was not his intention.  I also know from conversations that I was involved in that it was likewise certainly not the intention of any of the other participants from City and County staff or from the BPC.  I will keep Dan’s comments in mind when I go back and read the agreement again before Monday and think about his suggestion for clarification because I don’t want the agreement to be construed that way either.  I will also forward his comments to Mr. Senkow.

One other thing to mention that is that discussions have begun between the City and representatives of the Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation (f/k/a the Van Wezel Foundation) about an agreement with the City pertaining to the design, construction and funding of the new performing arts center.   Dan Bailey, representing the Foundation, is preparing an initial draft of that agreement.  It is my understanding that the Foundation intends to play a major role in raising money to fund the design and construction of the performing arts center which will be further outlined in that agreement, so it is not envisioned that the construction of the PAC will be entirely dependent on TIF funds.  There may also be funds derived from sources other than TIF or private fund raising to go toward the cost of the new PAC.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

 

Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation

To: Sarasota City Commission

I am forwarding an email from Attorney Dan Bailey sent on behalf of the Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation.  This email suggests a revision to paragraph 7 of the proposed Interlocal Agreement on Monday’s agenda regarding cooperative funding of capital improvements to The Bay Park using tax increment revenues.

The email suggests that the use of “either” and “or” in the context of this paragraph might lead to an interpretation that funds could be allocated for only one of the three items enumerated rather than for all three.

This possibly may have led to Mr. Lobeck’s email sent on Friday evening expressing a concern in this regard.

After this email was sent, I spoke to the Deputy County Attorney about it and my understanding is that City staff contacted County staff as well.  Since the change was readily understood and the County was agreeable and expressed no objections, I had been under the impression that the revised paragraph 7 would be incorporated into the Interlocal Agreement submitted as part of the agenda package.  However, since the previous version of paragraph 7 is in the agreement that is included with the agenda back up materials, I thought it might be useful to forward the email below in advance of the meeting.

It is my understanding that there is agreement between the respective attorneys and staff for the parties to make the change below requested by Mr. Bailey.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

 

TIF Interlocal Agreement

To: John Lege

Per our conversation today concerning the draft Interlocal Agreement for the TIF,  the lead-in to paragraph 7 of the Interlocal Agreement presently reads:

7.  Project Approval, Budgeting and Funding Process. Tax Increment Revenues from the City and County, as they may become legally available from time to time, will be allocated to either: i) capital improvements at The Bay Park, ii) to bicycle/pedestrian facilities within the District, or iii) to fund a portion of a new performing arts center, as approved through the following process:….

We would like to shift the PAC from the third to the second position in the paragraph (consistent with the order it appears in the draft ordinance), and to make it clear that the items listed are not in the alternative (the present “either…or” language suggests they may be mutually exclusive), but rather they are all eligible to be funded.  Thus, it would be revised to read:

7.  Project Approval, Budgeting and Funding Process. Tax Increment Revenues from the City and County, as they may become legally available from time to time, will be allocated to fund i) capital improvements at The Bay Park, ii) a portion of a new performing arts center, and iii) bicycle/pedestrian facilities within the District, as approved through the following process:….

Thank you.

Charles (Dan) Bailey

Attorney, Sarasota

 

To: Charles Bailey

To participate in the meeting today you must register as soon as possible this morning. Please use the below link for registration. Since this item will be in the evening session I would recommend that you join the meeting around 5:45 p.m.

In order to be approved to participate via zoom, you must complete the registration form in its entirety and you must specify on the registration form whether you will be speaking on citizens input on city topics (these are topics not on this agenda) or under a published agenda item and state which item number. Once registration is complete, you will receive a separate email containing the link and information to join the meeting. You will join the meeting as an attendee and you will be muted, you will not be able to speak until enabled by the host. You will be enabled at the appropriate time during the meeting and you will be timed. Once your input is complete, you will again be muted.

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.

When: Oct 19, 2020 01:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Topic: October 19, 2020 Regular City of Sarasota Commission Meeting

You must register in advance for this webinar:

https://sarasotafl-gov.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ydm13UejQOeveN9gjf0geA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. For the family member who are interested in only viewing/streaming the meeting and not participating, you may access it on the City’s website under www.sarasotafl.gov/services/meetings-agendas-videos and then select ‘View Event’ or ‘Video’ for the meeting in which you are interested in watching. There is no registration required to view meetings on the City’s website.

Shayla Griggs

City Auditor and Clerk

City of Sarasota

 

Moratorium on utility disconnection

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

While I understand this decision is yours alone please allow me to make a recommendation. Upon reflecting on our discussion regarding resident utility disconnections last night, I have come to the conclusion that so long as we are in a declared City State of Emergency we should continue our utility disconnection moratorium for the duration of that declaration.  Once lifted disconnections can resume. The nexus between having running water and the need for residents to stay clean and healthy, I believe, supports that addition to your Order and makes sense given the nature of this health emergency your Order is predicated upon.  Let me know your thoughts on the matter when you have a moment.

Hagen Brody

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Moratorium on utility disconnection

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody

Thanks for your note. In effect we practically doing this now. I will review with our top staff to further discuss additional specifics.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Non-toxic products

To: Sarasota Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

Thank you for the conversation this afternoon and for agreeing to have a meeting with Sharon Juraszek and some others who want to continue to be a part of the City’s efforts toward using non-toxic products in our parks and medians.

If we could ask Diane to arrange a Zoom meeting with the group and include Sharon and her group, you, Mr. Barwin (if he would like), Mr. Fogle, and myself that would be appreciated.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Thorpe Park

To: Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

Guy took off each piece of clothing and washed them in the fountain. Then got in naked and took a bath.

Don Costantino

Sarasota

 

Thorpe Park

To: Don Costantino

Oh my! This looks like this has been a daily occurrence recently. I saw you copied everyone, so you can receive a response.

Liz Alpert

Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Failure to Enforce Violations at Nora Patterson Park leads to Grand Theft

To: Sarasota City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, Sarasota City Commission

You were all copied on my Sunday communication regarding the City/County’s inability to enforce afterhours violations at Nora Paterson Park.  As we in the neighborhood have feared, these failures have now led to far more significant problems.  On Monday morning, two kayaks (value ~ $5K) were stolen from our dock at 880 Siesta Dr, with our camera showing that the thieves are coming from the Park.  I filed an SPD report on that last evening.  This morning, our neighbors at 878 Siesta Dr. called and told us their two kayaks were stolen last night/this morning.  In reviewing our security camera footage, we again found that the thieves are coming from the Park, crossing our property, and entering the neighbors to commit the theft.   

We need to see some leadership from the City and/or County in figuring out how to enforce the regulations at the Park and eliminate the crimes that the lack of enforcement is festering.

Patrick H Wulf

Sarasota

 

Failure to Enforce Violations at Nora Patterson Park leads to Grand Theft

To: Pat Wulf

Good morning. Deputy Chief Robinson immediately contacted me after seeing your previous e-mail. I apologize that we did not contact you to acknowledge receipt. Understanding that Nora Patterson Park is split between County (south and parking lot) and City (north) ownership, he is actively reviewing this issue to bring it to resolution. I assure you he will be in touch. Be assured, the safety and security of our neighborhoods and parks is a high priority. Be safe and thanks for sharing your concerns.

Marlon Brown

Deputy City Manager, City of Sarasota

 

Failure to Enforce Violations at Nora Patterson Park leads to Grand Theft

To: Sarasota Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown

I have given directions to my staff to address these issues. Yesterday I directed the patrol commander to address the complaint. Captain Konstantopoulos and our CAT unit will be reaching out to Mr. Wulf and the community in that area to explain what we can and can not do with the park. We will also be discuss crime prevention tips and how to partner with the police to address crime problems. I’m sorry to see there were thefts of kayaks last night. We will thoroughly Investigate and hopefully with the camera footage we can identify the suspects. If anyone in this email has any ideas or suggestions please let me know.

Bernadette A. DiPino

Chief of Police, City of Sarasota

 

Plans to challenge EPA permit to gulf fish farm

To: Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I wanted to first thank you again for offering your statement on the fish farm this week. It was tremendously helpful and really hit some great points on why we need to continue fighting these aquaculture plans for the Gulf.

On that point, we’re in discussions with partner organizations about building a legal challenge to EPA’s decision on the water discharge permit and I wanted to check with you: will the City of Sarasota be filing a legal challenge over the decision? I think it definitely warrants consideration, and it could be a great move – potentially to be joined as coplaintiffs by the other cities that spoke out in opposition (Sanibel, Holmes Beach). Planning out multiple cases is always good practice, especially when there is the potential for relating the cases together down the road.

Just a thought, so I wanted to check in. Hope all is well and happy to chat if it would be helpful.

Hallie Templeton

Deputy Legal Director & Senior Oceans Campaigner

 

Plans to challenge EPA permit to gulf fish farm

To: Hallie Templeton

Thanks for reaching out. As you may be aware, as Mayor, I can’t make this decision, as this would have to be a full Commission discussion and decision.

We would have to put this on our agenda to discuss the details of this, including costs, timeline, the plan details, etc. before we decide. We would need supplemental information for a substantive discussion.

I am not clear on what would be needed from the City, and I am sure you can understand that anything impacting our budget would have to be fully vetted.

Having said that, I would like to remain in contact with you per this, and your efforts. I have copied the City attorney, City Manager, and Deputy City Manager, along with Staff on this email to provide any further details or to ask any follow-up questions.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor , City of Sarasota

 

Plans to challenge EPA permit to gulf fish farm

To: Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

Yes, that makes total sense to me. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have going forward as you all deliberate. An administrative appeal would need to be filed by October 30 with the EPA to preserve the challenge, so timing is limited unfortunately. There are a couple of NGOs planning a challenge, FOE included, but it would be incredibly helpful to also have some of the localities weigh in with their own challenge if at all possible. Please do let me know how I can be helpful here!

Hallie Templeton

Deputy Legal Director & Senior Oceans Campaigner

 

Plans to challenge EPA permit to gulf fish farm

To: Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I wanted to provide a quick update on our administrative appeal of EPA’s decision to grant their permit to Velella Epsilon. The 10/30 deadline for filing is rapidly approaching. We will have an appeal letter that was prepared by counsel at Center for Food Safety, which we will be circulating for sign-ons by this Monday. I believe that it would be a tremendous addition if the City of Sarasota were interested in joining that appeal letter (or using it to submit their own independent letter) to preserve the ability to file a legal challenge over the decision in federal court.

I would like to provide you the draft letter for review as soon as it’s ready, if you have interest in joining our appeal or filing your own. What do you all think? Thanks for considering and please feel free to reach out with any questions.

Hallie Templeton

Deputy Legal Director & Senior Oceans Campaigner

 

Plans to challenge EPA permit to gulf fish farm

To: Hallie Templeton

Based on the Commissions previous action and my concern over this prospect I would like to write a letter to stay involved and engaged by objecting to the permit at this time. Aggravating Red Tide is a huge and very relevant concern. Any suggested language to compliment your efforts is welcomed. Thanks for keeping us aware.

Tom Barwin

City Manager, City of Sarasota

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