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A TALE OF TIME AND EXPENSE Analysis: A Siesta architect says the public beach improvements can be done for $13 million; News Leader research shows milestones set for the consultants called for the project to be ready for bids by January 2013 — Rachel Brown Hackney Siesta Key architect Mark Smith believes the improvements at the public beach can be completed for $13 million or $14 million, he told The Sarasota News Leader this week — about $3 million less than the amount the Sarasota County Commission approved on Sept. 14, 2011. His figure is about $14 million less than the $27 million estimate a staff member mentioned to the board early this month. Commissioner Nora Patterson, who lives on Siesta Key, facilitated Smith's efforts to speak with representatives of the county's consultants on the project, Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. and Sweet Sparkman Architects. Smith had volunteered to undertake a review of the project cost estimates, on behalf of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and other island organizations, so he could offer a professional opinion to the commission on the ballooning expenses. (Full story here) STORMY WATERS North Port Commission puts the brakes on Warm Mineral Springs redevelopment — Cooper Levey-Baker The North Port City Commission slammed the brakes on a process designed to solicit ideas to redevelop Warm Mineral Springs during an adversarial — and, at times, downright snide — public meeting held Monday, Nov. 26. The commission gathered to consider going forward with an Invitation to Negotiate, which would allow private developers to put forward their ideas for how to redevelop Warm Mineral Springs, the 87-degree "Fountain of Youth" jointly purchased by North Port and Sarasota County in 2010. The Invitation to Negotiate process was set in motion in July during a joint city-county meeting, at which both commissions unanimously voted to begin soliciting long-term plans for the property. But that plan came to a halt Monday, when the North Port commission — led by Mayor Linda Yates and two newly elected commissioners — shot down a motion to approve the Invitation to Negotiate. (Full story here) AT A GLANCE TOP STORIES

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