Pelican Press 2.20.14

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SARASOTA OBSERVER

YourObserver.com

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2014

room for improvement

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NEWSBRIEFS

by Nolan Peterson | News Editor

+ County, city approve homeless spending

Photos by Nolan Peterson

Workers at the Siesta Beach Improvement Project begin renovating the parking lot as part of the project’s first phase of construction.

Cost savings permit Siesta beach renovation options Unused funds may allow the Siesta Beach renovations project to include dune walkovers, a new west pavilion and 10 pole shelters without increasing the project’s overall cost. At the Siesta Beach renovations worksite, Sarasota County taxpayer dollars are doing something unusual — they’re going further than expected. Siesta Beach renovations are projected to cost less than expected, which allows the project manager to consider adding elements to the project, based on a ranked list of options the County Commission approved last year. Sarasota County Public Works Project Manager Brad Gaubatz said initial cost projections indicate there will be enough money leftover to include two and perhaps three additional options to the $21.5 million project. The four-phase, two-year Siesta Beach Park Improvement Project will add parking at Siesta Beach; revamp and expand the beach pavilion and restroom facilities; add a new east concession and restroom area; and make the park more environmentally friendly. The price of the project is fixed, preventing any possible cost overruns, but also requiring the county to spend every dollar it allocated for the project. When cost estimates put the project $375,303 below its allotted price tag in August, project managers presented county commissioners with a list of eight optional additions to round out the already set aside $21.5 million. (See sidebar, right.) Project managers were able to pick up options one and two — dune walkovers and a new west pavilion —when the contract was signed in October. At a Feb. 6 Siesta Key Association meeting, Gaubatz announced that his staff was eyeing the inclusion of two more optional add-ons from the commission-approved

The Siesta Beach Park Improvement Project will add parking, revamp and expand the beach pavilion and restroom facilities, add a new concession and restroom area and make the park more environmentally friendly. list due to additional cost savings. “It's good news,” Gaubatz said. “It's very good news.” Options three and four include upgraded tree species at the park and 10 additional two-pole shelters — coming in at a combined price of $332,780. Gaubatz added that there might even be enough money left over to include portions of option five —an upgraded esplanade. “It isn't accurate to say the project is coming in under budget,” Gaubatz said, explaining the the guaranteed maximumprice contract. “The cost of the contract isn't changing, but we may be able to pick up more options for the same amount of money we have always intended to spend.” The rules of the guaranteed maximumprice contract obligate the contractor to cover any expenses exceeding the project's $21.5 million budget. “The contractor works hard to not exceed that budget,” Gaubatz said.

ORIGINAL LIST OF RANKED AND APPROVED OPTIONS 1. Dune walkovers...................$214,500 2. West pavilion.......................$241,697 3. Ten additional two-pole shelters......................$142,780 4. Park tree size and species upgrade................$190,000 5. Upgrade esplanade concrete to standard pavers...................$124,609 6. Concrete paving at maintenance yard..................$86,130 7. Covered maintenance building................$73,689 8. Parking lot tree size and species upgrade.........$140,000

Sarasota County commissioners continue to present a unified front in the local push to address homelessness, while the Sarasota City Commission remains divided on the issue. Although city commissioners argued Monday about the potential placement of a homeless shelter and consultant Robert Marbut’s strategies to address the problem, the board ultimately voted 3-2 to extend his contract through Nov. 30 and pay for a portion of feasibility studies for proposed shelter locations. On Tuesday, county commissioners quickly discussed the topic, and in less than 10 minutes unanimously approved the contract extension. The county and city will pay roughly $86,000 to extend Marbut’s contract while he oversees implementation of his Homeless Strategic Action Plan. Municipal officials initially agreed to hire Marbut for four months beginning in August, but extended his contract through Feb. 28. “This will keep the momentum moving forward,” said Sarasota County Homelessness Coordinator Wayne Applebee.

+ FDOT tweaks Stickney Point Traffic rules A new traffic sign aimed at improving pedestrian and cyclist safety recently appeared on Stickney Point Road at a busy Siesta Key intersection. This month, the Florida Department of Transportation installed a “no turn on red” sign at the turn lane directing traffic northbound onto Midnight Pass Road. Drivers previously had the option of turning right during a red light when there were not any pedestrians near crosswalks. “We had a citizen who called and said that cars weren’t stopping,” FDOT spokesman Robin Stublen said. Instead of coming to a complete stop and yielding during a red light, drivers had been rolling through, prompting several complaints from residents. FDOT engineers studied traffic data to ensure that despite a busy season ahead, the change would not greatly affect trip times.

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MEETINGS AGENDAS

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Sarasota County Criminal Justice Commission — Noon Feb. 24, at the Sarasota County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota.

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