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Reasons to avoid downtown Sarasota!

So, I was asked to go out the other night for dinner — to celebrate some good news I received earlier this week and my date asked me where I wanted to go. It was a toss-up for both of us between Caraguilo’s Restaurant on Palm Avenue (a favorite of mine for years) or another place not situated in downtown. It took less than a nanosecond for us to both say the name of the non-downtown restaurant — no cost for parking! It wasn’t a drawn-out decision, no big debate — just a no-brainer.

It’s not just paying for parking. Here are the two things that put the nail in the coffin for me as far as downtown goes:

“Those who choose downtown’s sidewalks and parks for their front yards deserve the same consideration as a gated community,” said Peter Fanning, president of the Downtown Sarasota Condominium Association. “We should be able to walk unmolested by catcalls, panhandling and unwanted approach.” Yup, you read it right. The downtown residents should have the experience of living in a gated community — hmmmm …. at taxpayer’s expense, I guess. We can pay for the parks and the pretty twinkling lights …. just don’t go downtown to enjoy them if you don’t live there! Source: SRQ Daily 6/8

Then I picked up the Pelican Press and read an article about how the Downtown Improvement District just decided to support the City Commission’s removal of the park benches at the Five Points park.

I absolutely won’t shop or eat downtown now as much as I can avoid it — which will be pretty much always. The meters were bad enough, but now to know that the folk who are supposed to be in charge of improving our downtown for all of us to enjoy are actually supporting this crazy bit of bench business — it’s too much. There are too many other places to go in Sarasota County.

I’d LOVE to hear how anyone else is experiencing the new meters, the park bench removal — wherever you fall on the issues, pro or con or somewhere in the middle — I invite you to post your comments here.

Posted on June 10th, 2011Comments RSS Feed
6 Responses to Reasons to avoid downtown Sarasota!
  1. Michael Miller
    June 10, 2011 at 9:56 am

    You are correct in your assessment. Taxing the citizens for parking is unwise, as is the removal of benches from public parks. Downtown powers-that-be are making all sorts of unwise decisions, prompting me to wonder–where are the wise decision makers? Are there any? Is there anyone in charge who actually wants to do good for downtown? I haven’t met them. And I believe that the DSA should be made up of folks who want to improve downtown as a whole, not just store owners who want a quick parking turnover. Downtown Sarasota is turning into an embarrassing little place that is laughable to other downtown environments. I wish downtown the best (I live, work and play here), but I will never park there again, and paying a meter in order to shop is for the weak and uneducated.

  2. Two years ago, just before I moved back to Daytona for a bit everything was rocking. I move back two months ago, and it has all fallen into take this away, and simple greed. WTF is going on with Sarasota?!?

  3. It is clear who is really in charge of the decisions in Sarasota. My grandpappy always told me if nothing don’t make sense follow the money and then it will all come clear.

    The tourism board has the money and therefore control what goes on. The money for meters is to push out the poor and the uneducated and keep the rich shopping . I mean to them parking is no expense that even matters.

    The benches has to do with eradicating the homeless from the streets. While you the have the rich visiting your downtown the last thing you want is the poor who can barely afford to park there and the homeless around begging for the rich peoples money.

    Follow the money trail then all things make sense.


  4. I don’t know what all the fuss is about the parking meters. I think in time it won’t be an issue. I have traveled around the country and other big cities have these parking meters and I will say they have made me finding a parking spot easier. I would be a little more upset if all they accepted was coins, but seeing as they take debit/credit, I have no problem with it. If you wanted to go out to a nice restaurant, why would paying $2 for parking keep you from going there? It makes no sense. There is still plenty of free parking downtown if you are so opposed to paying.

    As far as the removal of the park benches at Five Points go, I think that was a stupid move. If people choose to move downtown, then they need to get used to the homeless people who congregate there. The homeless people were there first. Its like if you by a house next to a kennel and then you complain about the barking. People need to do a little research before they buy. They need to put the park benches back.

  5. MC, I love your writing and even tho we’ve never met I feel I know you. So I must ask you please to reconsider your position of never coming downtown again. We are suffering enough with the economy and now this very poorly thought out parking plan is really taking a toll on some small business’s. Boycotting the business owners is not making your point. Trust me they are hurting enough and don’t need to be punished any more.
    Support local business, even if you have to shell out an extra buck or two and consider running for office on the city commission. Or lend support to someone young and forward thinking who would like to run. We’ve come too far from a really run down, sleepy, boarded up downtown of the seventies to what we have now.
    Young people need to get involved with running this city and it will get really hip!

  6. JP — you make excellent points (and I’m not talking about your kind words about loving my writing! :) ).

    You are correct that it isn’t the businesses themselves who installed the meters. Let me think on this. But in the meantime, thank you very much for reading the blog and for sharing your thoughts … and for encouraging me to revisit the issue. I will. Stay tuned. MC


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