Sarasota News Leader

03/22/2013

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Sarasota News Leader March 22, 2013 Secure bicycle parking was another idea ��� something more secure than the bicycle parking offered in the Palm Avenue garage. A YouTube video from surveillance cameras shows a high-end bike being spirited away in 38 seconds from that ���secure��� space. Because the city abandoned its downtown pay-for-parking plan, the State Street garage will be a public amenity, free for the taking. One person suggested the city could sell longterm parking permits. As a resident of an older condominium, his parking is constrained, he said, and he hoped the State Street facility could offer some relief. Merchants who work near the site asked about construction staging. The erection of the 1350 Main condominium complex nearly bankrupted (actually did bankrupt) several Palm Avenue stores. The experience has created fear and dread in the hearts of all downtown retailers when they hear about planned nearby construction. Merchants were told it is too early in the process ��� even the construction techniques have not been settled on yet ��� to know details about which trucks will park where for how long. Page 38 Next month Smith will report to the City Commission about what the public wanted and what she can deliver. In mid-May, she will be back to face the public with more details, and she will ask again for further citizen guidance. If it is necessary, a third hear-the-public session is tentatively on the schedule. I have written a lot about ���overlay districts��� recently ��� along the North Tamiami Trail, abutting Laurel Park, how they give ���administrative site plan approval��� to builders after one and only one meeting with neighbors using those pastel dreamy drawings. The A.B. Morgan presentation on March 19 ��� and the ground rules laid by the city ��� were as refreshing as a desert spring. Instead of ���Oh, yeah; sure,��� it was, ���Tell us more.��� And as refreshing as this was to a score of citizens, I detected it was a refreshing change for the professionals, too. They could drop the baitand-switch tactics demanded by developers in the past and work their wings as well. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I was fooled. But I detected in the room the beginnings of a cooperative spirit. One of the presenters, Josh Harden, said, ���This project will shape the city and the downtown area.��� Imagine that: CitiGround should break for the State Street ga- zens and professionals shaping the future of rage in February 2014, with a completion date the city and the downtown area together. by the very last day of that year. Between now It has happened before, but just as the original and ���golden shovel time,��� builder Rebecca New Urbanism Duany plan for the city was Smith will arrange for more public comment. emasculated by builders and landowners, the She has built more than 1,000 parking garages, process can come to a bitter end. and her team was there in the City Commission Chambers March 19 with blank pieces of Hope springs eternal, and it is in fact springpaper, waiting to hear from the Sarasota pub- time. Make no mistake: This is only a parking lic. Unfortunately, as with the election held on garage plan, but for one March evening, it was March 12, there were just a few of us interest- a breath of very fresh air ��� for very few peoed enough for our voices to be heard. ple. %

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