Sarasota News Leader

04/04/2014

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Commissioner Cheryl Cook reiterated her objection to the fact that the zoning of the property could open it up to as many as 270 residential units. Just because that is allowed does not make it a given. Facilities assessments undertaken while the boards were clashing over how to proceed on Warm Mineral Springs have made clear that a lot of work needs to be done to upgrade the structures on the site if whoever ends up with the long-term contract wants to keep them. However, the goal in awarding a contract for the long-term operation should be to ensure the best possible use of the entire 81 acres. That could include a first-class hotel as well as condominiums. And such development can be done tastefully and in a manner to enhance the natural beauty of the property. We strongly encourage the commissioners on both boards to keep an open mind — and listen closely to constituents — while the solicitation package is on the market. What we envision for Warm Mineral Springs is a future in which it enjoys world renown as a first-class resort. That is exactly what can happen, given the right vision on the part of some highly respected company, in collabora- tion with the commissions. % COMMENTARY I had the privilege of serving eight years as a Sarasota city commissioner and two as mayor. I have carefully examined a proposed new city charter, produced out of the sunshine by 18 people, with the final draft crafted by four city residents and four who do not live in our city. If enough signatures are collected, the proposal will go on the ballot in November. I will not sign that petition. The power proposed for the mayor and the extreme weakening of the City Commission cause me to question if even the best of may- ors will be unable to resist the temptation of extreme power. Those temptations in the By Mollie Cardamone Guest Columnist APPROVAL OF THE PROPOSED NEW CITY CHARTER COULD LEAD TO SIGNIFICANT UNWANTED CHANGES past, which led to cronyism and corruption, resulted in a reform movement that instituted professional city and county management. Below are some scenarios that give me seri- ous doubts about our future under the latest strong mayor proposal. Suppose we elect a person as mayor who ran on a platform calling for open and honest gov- ernment and neighborhood protection and preservation. Once elected, this mayor could find he does not have the expertise to manage the departments and hundreds of employees, so he immediately would need help and sup- port and a trusted person to watch his back. COMMENTARY OPINION Sarasota News Leader April 4, 2014 Page 80

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