Sarasota News Leader

06/20/2014

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COMMENTARY W h e n n a t i o n s n e e d t o c o m e together to make deals, diplomats are called, because nations resist being pushed around. Wa r s h a v e b e e n s t a r t e d w i t h l e s s provocation. When local governments come together to make deals, a different kind of diplomat is required. If nobody rises to the occa- sion to admonish the bullies and repair the misunderstandings — to act as a diplomat — the consequences are not war. But the consequences can poison relations for years. Government should not be a zero-sum game. I won; you lost. Ha, ha. The citizens of the City of Sarasota pay taxes twice, roughly equal amounts each year to their city and county governments. So when those governments fight, there are only losers in the city. W h e n t h e S a r a s o t a C i t y a n d C o u n t y Commissions sit down for a joint meeting on Monday, June 23, the issue again will be home- lessness and vagrancy. Majorities on both boards have agreed with their jointly hired consultant, Robert Marbut, to focus on creat- ing a come-as-you-are shelter. And majorities on both boards have agreed to narrow the selection of the shelter location to two sites on the northern side of the city. During the June 23 meeting, they are expected to hear the results of an environmental assess- ment of the two parcels (the city-owned 1330 N. Osprey Ave. property and the privately owned 1800 N. East Ave. site). A preliminary report indicated both have minor contamina- tion; the final report should provide an analysis of how much remediation will be required. Because some federal money will be used for the shelter project, the selected site must be environmentally benign. During the City Commission meeting on Monday, June 16, City Manager Tom Barwin said the shelter cost could be "north of $5 million." Even if the city and county agree on a site on June 23, the city will have to rezone the land. And more time will be needed to design a facility, get bids and build the structure. Barwin thinks nine to 12 months is the min- imum period between "decision made" and "doors open." The Sarasota County commissioners have not said yet how they would like to pay for construction of a shelter for the vagrants and the homeless. Even with some federal money available, local funds will be necessary. Once it is open, any come-as-you-are shelter in the community will require additional local money for ongoing operations, security and WANTED: SOMEONE WHO PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS IN THE SANDBOX By Stan Zimmerman City Editor COMMENTARY OPINION Sarasota News Leader June 20, 2014 Page 95

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