Friday, June 15, 2018

County decision to give "prime real estate" to Sheriff questioned

UPDATE June 15: A Petition has been created to STOP the proposed Sheriff's truck garage on prime visible property in Nokomis.

UPDATE: See this recent letter of June 4, 2018, from John Ask to Commissioner Al Maio. It refers to the matter detailed in letters to Sheriff Tom Knight below, and begins:

Dear Commissioner Maio:

I hope you and your family are well, and doing well!
This personal communication is a long time in coming, and is written in the spirit of great disappointment, both in you and local government leaders; it’s written with stunning disbelief that individuals that I’ve known well, trusted, and believed in, can be so willing to put themselves ahead of others, and more importantly, ahead of what is in the best interest of the community and Sarasota County at large. Continue...
Earlier Correspondence:
Letter from John Ask, former chair of the Sarasota County Planning Commission and longtime member of the Nokomis Area Civic Association, to Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight, dated May 9, 2018. 
The Letter concerns a county commission decision to give to Sheriff Tom Knight a prime parcel of public land for $zero compensation for a truck garage. The land is at Honore near Laurel Rd. in Nokomis. The Planning Commission hearing which supported this decision is here, beginning at the 2 hr 54 minute mark. 

Public Land at Honore near I-75 Laurel Rd. exit
Given to Sheriff for Truck Garage by Board

Dear Sheriff Knight:

This communication is intended to provide a partial solution to your several capital requests including the most recent helicopter request. As you well know, your Vehicle Maintenance Facility planned for the I-75 interstate exchange at Laurel Road and Honore Ave is on prime real estate that could be sold for high dollars and become an ongoing income generating source for Sarasota County tax rolls. As you well know, this Laurel Road interchange is where Sarasota Memorial Hospital is constructing a hospital. This county property which lies across the street has the potential to become commercial uses to complement the hospital and a true asset to Sarasota County residents, both in services and ongoing tax revenue generation.

Please recall, your meeting on the topic of the vehicle maintenance facility with Nokomis community leaders Bruce Dillon (also, an elected official on the Sarasota County Charter Review Board, and NACA Board Member), Bill Cantrell (Nokomis Area Civic Association President – NACA), and myself, at the time a Sarasota County Planning Commissioner, and former 13 year NACA President. 

An aerial map shows the proximity of
Rustic Road to Interstate 75. 
During that meeting we discussed that the alternative site for the maintenance facility was on the corner of Knight’s Trail and Rustic Road a couple of miles away, and is already zoned for Government Use (GU). This site is owned by Sarasota County and sits adjacent to your many other facilities. In fact, we shared with you documents showing that this was the site of choice of a previous study for locating Sheriff and Fire facilities, at study where I was in fact one of the participants and am a primary source. You stated to the three of us that you don’t care which site is selected, that either can work, and your absolute priority is getting the facility built as your need is imminent.

Sheriff Knight, in the way of review, if Sarasota County sells the Laurel Road/Honore Ave parcel it can generate sufficient money to buy your helicopter and more. 

Also, the commercial uses constructed on the site will provide an ongoing income stream to Sarasota County for other needs, including your office.  For example, the Sarasota County Tax Collector has told Bill Cantrell that a hotel on that site would generate roughly $250,000 in property tax revenue, with additional revenue to come from jobs, room taxes, and visitor spending.  Best of all, the hotel would only require roughly 4 acres of the site leaving much more opportunity for other development and income generation for Sarasota County. A hotel located by an interstate exchange and a new Sarasota Memorial Hospital represents a very realistic example and opportunity.

Finally, developing this interstate exchange commercially is not only best use of public assets, but it meets with the wishes of the community. The local community seeks commercial uses that meet resident needs vs. a vehicle maintenance facility; uses that create a positive first impression of Nokomis and North Venice as this is our Eastern Gateway Entrance. NACA has a long history of seeking to revitalize, redevelop, and develop Nokomis into something that the community and all of Sarasota County can be proud of.

Your vehicle maintenance facility does not come close to meeting that positive development goal, nor is it the best use of a valuable public asset that this land represents. A win/win for your office, Nokomis residents, and Sarasota County taxpayers is to construct your vehicle maintenance facility on the Knight’s Trail location on land that is of little value for other uses.

Thank you in advance for considering this very common sense solution that is seeking the best outcome for all in Sarasota County. Please reconsider the location of your vehicle maintenance facility allowing both the local community and all Sarasota County taxpayers become winners, and subsequently, a reason to be pleased and proud of our elected leaders in their use of public money.


John Ask
Nokomis, Florida 34275

P.S. More information on this project, history, and the community perspectives can be viewed on the Nokomis Area Civic Association – NACA website main page at

NACA and the community are committed to working tirelessly for the benefit of the Nokomis area, and Sarasota County. It continues to be the hope that our local government leaders will choose to work cooperative with our community for the benefit of all Sarasota County residents!

Cc: County Commission Chair, N. Detert; District 4 Commissioner A. Maio, NACA President Bill Cantrell


(Ed's note: More correspondence on this matter can be found here. Images courtesy of the Sarasota News Leader; bolding and hyperlinks added to Ask letter.)

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