Sarasota News Leader

10/19/2012

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FACING THE THREAT HEAD-ON Former Sarasota City Commissioner Gil Waters remains focused on a project that would make it easy to close off parts of downtown to traffic for special events. Street closures are a fixture of the popular Downtown Farmers Market. Photo by Norman Schimmel EVERYBODY WANTS TO GET INTO THE 'DOWNTOWN POOL' FOR IMPROVING THE DRAWS FOR VISITORS, RESIDENTS By Stan Zimmerman City Editor Several new groups popped up at the Down- town Improvement District (DID) meeting on Tuesday morning, Oct. 16. Old names and those previously unknown surfaced under new colors to add their shoulders to the "im- prove downtown" wheel. Under the heading of "The last shall be first," Gil Waters made an appearance. A city com- missioner almost 60 years ago, he remains passionate in his view that downtown is for people, not cars. As a writer, developer and political rainmaker, Waters is a Sarasota icon. He has started a new group called Sarasota Vision Inc., and he says he has raised $200,000 to give to the city for downtown projects. Wa- ters is working with Brent Park, who demon- strated retractable bollards that could be used to close off sections of Main Street to cars for specific times and purposes. Waters retains his interest in creating a pedes- trian walkover of U.S. 41 at the bayfront, an idea first proposed in 1959. DID Chairman Ernie Ritz said the ideas and the money deserved more discussion and or- dered an appropriate item put on the group's next agenda. Paul Thorpe – dubbed "Mr. Downtown" for his tireless work over the decades to keep the

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