Archive for March, 2011

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Sarasota residents came out in force on March 8th to elect three new city commissioners, and now that the dust has almost cleared—

Actually, that’s a bit of a fib. The dust hasn’t cleared. And not because the runoff vote in District 1 has yet to happen (it’s scheduled for May 10th), but because no dust was kicked up in the first place. Sarasota residents didn’t come out in force for the elections. In fact, they barely came at all.

The City of Sarasota has 32,019 registered voters. Of those, a mere 5693 cast a ballot. That’s an 18% turnout. No matter what scale of measurement you use, 18% is a failing mark. City commissioners make the decisions that most affect the daily lives of Sarasotans, and yet no candidate had as many as 1800 votes. Shannon Snyder won district 3, which includes Laurel Park, with 704. Only three precincts reached 30% voter turnout, while six were in single digits.

Here at Laurel Park Management, we’ve met so many passionate people, people who work hard to be good neighbors, good citizens. Who take pride in their neighborhood. Every time we walk outside we encounter one. So, why isn’t that passion translating into votes?

Any community, no matter the size, is only as great as its civic involvement. Sarasota is fortunate to have an extremely vocal and involved minority, but they remain just that: a minority. If the majority of residents don’t make their voices heard by at least choosing our representative leaders, how representative can our leaders be? And what right will we have to complain about the job they do (or don’t do)?


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Saw this article in the Herald-Tribune by Christopher O’Donnell and thought we’d pass it along. It is an interesting notion…what if Sarasota used what it has in greatest abundance—sunshine—as currency to pay for local needs? Could be a way to use the economic downturn to our advantage in the long-term…

Sarasota schools want to make money from the sun

Sarasota County school rooftops could double as power stations and a new revenue source under a deal the district recently signed with Florida Power & Light to put solar panels on schools and other district buildings.

FPL wants to survey which school rooftops can accommodate solar panels, then lease the space and install solar panels and a convertor. Power generated would go back into the electric grid.

District officials say it’s too soon to know how much the deal might be worth.

The expansion of FPL’s solar generating capacity would first have to be approved by legislators. But if approved, Sarasota would be one of the first districts in the state to use solar power to raise revenue. FPL officials are in talks with other school districts but have no similar deals in place.

“Our goal is to have as many roofs in the district qualify,” said Jody Dumas, district director of facility services. “The more we can lease roof space back to FPL, the more we generate revenue for the district.

Manatee County School Superintendent Tim McGonegal said if the Sarasota lease goes ahead, Manatee officials will see if they can get a similar deal.

FPL has constructed and commissioned three solar power plants that, combined, produce 110 megawatts of energy for 4.5 million customers throughout Florida.

That includes a 25-megawatt solar array in Arcadia with 90,500 solar panels. The company plans to add solar arrays at an existing power plant in Parrish on State Road 62.

“If renewable legislation is passed, projects like these could be a nice compliment to the larger utility-scale solar plants we also plan to pursue,” said FPL spokeswoman Jackie Anderson. keep reading at heraldtribune.com


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Ed Smith Stadium {photo source}

Anyone who follows baseball knows that the American League East is arguably the most competitive division in the majors. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, with their long histories and deep pockets, garner most of the headlines, but the Tampa Bay Rays have joined them the last few years as an elite franchise. And now the Toronto Blue Jays and Sarasota’s own Baltimore Orioles, who train each spring at the newly renovated Ed Smith Stadium, have loaded up with young talent and are threatening to make the division even more difficult.

Interestingly, the spring training sites of all five teams are spread out along Florida’s gulf coast, from Dunedin to Fort Myers, meaning that even in spring training they can’t get away from each other! This week, the O’s have home games against the Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, and New York Yankees. For tickets and other information, visit their spring training site.

Ed Smith Stadium, located at 2700 12th Street, is easily reachable from Laurel Park via bike, bus, or car. You can call them at 941-954-4101 for more information.

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Tomorrow is election day here in Sarasota, with three out five commission seats up for grabs. That means if you live in districts 1, 2, or 3 (that means everyone in the city of Sarasota) your vote counts!! In 2009, when two at-large commission seats were up for election, only 20% of registered voters—not total residents, only registered voters—came to the polls. In the end, the difference between being elected and not being elected was a mere 104 votes.

Your vote is critical for a number of reasons. With so few ballots cast, your vote really does count. More than that, though, and no matter how you vote, voting is a cornerstone of democratic society. The less we vote, the less democratic our society is. Also, while we might be electing officials to represent us, those officials do not constitute “the city” on their own. We, the residents, the citizens, are the city. Voting is a privilege, but it is also the responsibility of citizens. If we are the city, it is up to us to inform ourselves and exercise our authority as citizens.

Civic involvement is one of the qualities that makes Laurel Park a special place. You don’t have to live here long to know how passionate our residents feel about their neighborhood (us included!). When passion leads to action, anything is possible. So speak with your vote tomorrow and do your part to make Sarasota as good as it can be!

Okay, I’ll climb off the soapbox now. For all election-related information, visit sarasotavotes.com

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