Sarasota News Leader

11/16/2012

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Sarasota News Leader November 16, 2012 "I think the DID should be funding this," said Commissioner Terry Turner. "We created it for this." Harshman watched his best-laid plans col- lapse when Caragiulo's motion failed 2-3 with Commissioners Turner, Willie Shaw and Shan- non Snyder voting against it. Turner then made a motion to refer the ques- tion to the DID, and that passed unanimously. GETTING HEARD Undeterred, the DSA tried to get a place on the Nov. 13 DID agenda, but it was told the agenda was full and it would have to wait. With advertising deadlines looming, DSA Mar- keting Coordinator Sharon Kaplan decided to crash the meeting. However, despite several solicitations from DID Chairman Ernie Ritz to speak, she re- mained quiet until the meeting was about to adjourn. She then went down to the front of the room, but City Planner Steve Stancel, who is the city liaison with the DID, called for a point of order. "This expenditure is not on the agenda," he said. With that, DID Member Tom Mannausa made a motion to put a marketing budget on the agenda for the next meeting, set for Nov. 27. "There is no line item now," he reminded the group. DID member Dr. Mark Kauffman fur- ther reminded the group the DSA covers a far larger geographic area than the one for which the DID is responsible. At that point, Ron Soto with the new Saraso- ta Downtown Merchants Association remind- ed the DID members, "We pay an extra two mills [in property taxes] so people from Burns Court and Towles Court can advertise their businesses." Page 35 Soto and Kaplan were invited to return to the next meeting with marketing proposals to share with the DID. Additionally, Mannausa suggested the DID members do some thinking before then about their organization's role in marketing. DOWNTOWN AMBASSADORS In other business, Clean & Safe Committee Chairman Michael Rafoni, who was a bo- na-fide speaker listed on the DID agenda, pro- posed the DID study a proposal to establish an "ambassador service" for downtown. It would consist of a group of identifiable people who would meet and greet visitors, answer their questions, make recommendations and sug- gestions and offer directions. He introduced Blair McBride, who is an executive with a company that offers such a service. "We do this in Cocoanut Grove and Holly- wood, FL, and even downtown Minneapolis. We work with improvement districts to pro- vide a quick response to visitors' needs," said McBride. Some of the ambassadors would work an early shift, cleaning up the downtown ("por- tering," Rafoni called it). The weekday shift would begin its ambassadorial duties around 11 a.m. "to counteract any negatives, to be a friendly face for downtown," McBride said, adding that the service would use about six people and operate on a $250,000 annual bud- get. "I see a huge upside to doing this," said DID member Pat Westerhouse. "This rings our chimes," said Goodwill's Tom Pfaff, chairman of the Sarasota Ministerial Alliance. "A clean and safe downtown." The DID agreed to keep the idea alive for future consideration. %

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