RiseMagazine | Sarasota

The Premier Lifestyle Magazine of Florida's Black Communities

Community Forum: 3 | After-action Update!

Commissioner Willie Shaw and staff held a very informative, positive and upbeat community forum at the Coller Hall of the Pines of Sarasota. In attendance were a host of city and county officials, there to deliver the progress reports on the broad scope of issues and improvements that they’ve united to address.

Opening the forum was Chief Mike Holloway of the Sarasota Police Department. After a sobering reminder of the fatalities that Sarasota has been tarnished by, he presented figures that were both encouraging and somewhat startling as well:

  • 50 arrests were made involving open-end drug sales
  • Over 63,000 calls were responded to
  • crime figures reflect a 7% decrease
  • arrests are up by 8%
  • there has been a 16% reduction in burglary related incidents

The proof will always be in the numbers and these numbers show that the efforts of the SPD are proving themselves to be effective. As another factor to the success of the SPD in creating and establishing a presence in the community, the Police Advisory Panel speaker, Peter Graham, spoke of the task at hand for the community. Looking at the effectiveness of other, larger programs, the Advisory Panel (and the Civilian Oversight component) will be working together with the residents to provide “outside-the-box” viewpoints that can lead to changes in policy and implementation. Changes that couldn’t even be considered strictly from the perspective of those directly involved in the process.

We also heard from Tony Russo with regards to upcoming drainage solutions and the planned traffic changes that will be associated. Mr. Russo also expressed his genuine level of surprise when hearing of the crime statistics within North Sarasota, especially after his interactions with the people who live and work here! This says a lot about both the true, greater level of pride and citizenship within the Newtown community than we may get credit for and the nature of the news that seems to always point to the negatives of the area.

As I’ve added to The Agenda, and will continue doing so, the North Sarasota Public Library is eagerly searching for ways to increase reader activity and involvement on the Newtown campus in general. Visit the branch, look into the programs being offered there. You’re guaranteed to find something worthwhile! And just incase you don’t, reach out to Ms. Yvette Robinson and let her know…she’ll make sure that your young readers can get the mental stimulation that reading provides!

According to the positive turn out that Facilities Manager Jerry Fogel spoke of, the newly renovated and improved Robert L. Taylor Community Complex has gone above and beyond expectations! With 1600 members, the Newtown community has definitely embraced the new “Rec” as their own! Congratulations!

There were many reports of good news, positive progress and development made that we should all take pride in. Funds have been allocated that will continue to enable the area to move forward. Such as the upcoming replacement housing for the Mediterranean Apartments. 24 to 26 stylish, affordable brownstone style units are planned!

The BEST news? The economic impact that’s being made through the consistent use of workers from within the community. With over $500,000 in payroll dollars resulting from construction projects (just on one project!) residents are able to pay bills, feed their families and enjoy a peace of mind that comes from earning fair wages once given the opportunity! We should applaud and support the efforts of the City of Sarasota, the contractors involved and organizations such as the Suncoast Workforce in insuring that these objectives are met, and in some cases, exceeded!

A special word of thanks and appreciation to the management and staff of The Pines of Sarasota for providing the venue for the forum.

City Commissioner Shaw and County Commissioner Carolyn Mason will hold a joint forum in March. Please check The Agenda for details!


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