Sarasota News Leader

02/28/2014

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conversation about elements of the next solic- itation. County staff met internally and we are continuing to discuss the necessary elements. We welcome North Port's comments and sug- gestions on the changes to the ITN. We plan to send out an updated version in the next few days." After Lowery made her initial comments during the Feb. 21 meeting, Commissioner Carolyn Mason, looking at Vice Chairwoman Christine Robinson, said to Robinson, "You've got heartburn." "I do have heartburn," Robinson responded. "I've got timing heartburn right now, because I don't understand why this discussion is hap- pening right now at the end of February." She reminded staff about the December action of the two boards, when they concurred on the short-term operation ending Aug. 31. Robinson, who represents South County interests on the County Commission, has taken the lead on Warm Mineral Springs mat- ters for her board. "We're at the end of February and we're just talking about getting a solicitation together?" Robinson asked Lowery. "Then it has to go before both boards … and we haven't even gotten to the advertisement of this …" She also pointed out, "Past history means we'll probably have to advertise it for longer than what's average, and we'll probably have to market that advertisement a little bit." Robinson voiced worries in December that, given the negative publicity surrounding months of deadlock between the North Port and County commissions over the future of the resort, it might be more difficult to find firms interested in submitting long-term pro- posals for the property. In response to another question from Robinson, Lowery said she believed the time- line called for the North Port Commission to vote March 24 on the ITN solicitation package. The North Port Commission has only one reg- ular meeting scheduled in March, according to the city's calendar, and that is on March 24. The County Commission is scheduled to meet on March 25. Lowery added that city and county staff mem- bers had worked out a schedule that would make it possible to award the long-term bid in time for a firm to take over in September, as the County Commission stipulated in December. County Commissioner Christine Robinson has questioned whether a long-term management deal can be concluded by Sept. 1. File photo Sarasota News Leader February 28, 2014 Page 52

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