Sunday, June 26, 2022

Growth feeds Growth

 Following the housing developers come the commercial developers. 

Commercial developers  are looking at lands along Clark Road east of I-75 for commercial strip malls - gas stations, convenience stores, etc.

As part of their preparation, they are tracking planned housing - already approved - in the area. 

Here's what they find near Proctor (Trillium) and Clark (Skye Ranch, Hi Hat):

Here's a closer view of the estimated new housing from Turner Family's Hi Hat and Skye Ranch, as well as Pat Neal's properties south of Clark:

Adding up the total housing units in the area, the commercial developer provides a set of projected totals for housing:

One site targeted for a WaWa or other gas station and stores is at the Northeast corner of Proctor and Clark:

These proposals appear to be part of preliminary commercial plans. They must be submitted to the County, then be presented to nearby neighborhoods before proceeding to the Planning Commission before being approved by the Board of Sarasota County Commissioners.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Paving Pat Neal wants more paving

From Northeast Sarasota County citizens:  

Northeast Sarasota target area of Paving Pat Neal

Hi Everyone,

We need you to write to the County Commissioners about what Pat Neal is planning to do. He has now asked to increase the density to 2 houses per acre and bring another 5000 homes east on Fruitville. This can not go through or we will say goodbye to the future of rural Sarasota.
Please write a simple note to the Commissioners that says:
Keep the for now and future generations to live on, learn from and love the land.

Email County Commissioners
Mike Moran
Ron Cutsinger
Christian Ziegler
Nancy Detert

 Below is from Becky Ayech, President of the Miakka Community Club.

“Proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment 20222-B is an attempt by Paving Pat Neal to change the allowable densities on 4,000 acres along and north of Fruitville Road.
Currently the existing zoning of 300 acres zoned at OUE-1 (60 homes), 2,570 acres zoned OUR (257 homes) and 1,030 acres zoned as Hamlet (400) houses totals 717 houses.
The total traffic generated under the existing zoning is** 5,722 daily trips**.
If the 4,000 acres were developed as Hamlets, the number of houses could be as little as 200 houses and as many as 1,600. If the land were developed at the highest density of 1,600 houses then that would mean 12,768 daily trips.
What Paving Pat Neal is proposing is 5,000 houses. This would be 39,900 daily trips.
Paving Pat Neal is also proposing a reduction of the 500' buffer to only 50'.
Paving Pat Neal is also proposing to limit the Open Space requirement to as little as 43%.
The 4,000 is within the boundaries as defined in the Old Miakka Neighborhood Plan. These are historic rural and agricultural lands.
And don't be fooled, while the density request for 2 units an acre as a transitional zone to 1 unit per 5 acres is the narrative. the units do not have to be developed on 1/2 acre lots. the lots can be any size. How is that compatible with 5 acre homesteads?
CPA 2022-B is urban sprawl. Calling it a Village Transitional Zone (VTZ) doesn't change the fact it is urban sprawl. It is like putting lipstick on a pig, it still is a pig.

Comprehensive Plan Amendment proposed by Paving Pat Neal

[Editor's note: The County Commission was delighted when Rex Jensen and Pat Neal offered to rewrite the Sarasota County 2050 Comp Plan.]



Mike Moran
Ron Cutsinger
Christian Ziegler
Nancy Detert

Friday, June 24, 2022

NOAA should go back to the drawing board

From a column in the Bradenton Times:

Industrial-scale finfish farming is not sustainable, it:
  • Is not inclusive, as it favors wealthy investors and actively harms other existing industries, such as fishing
  • Does not expand access to nutritious domestic seafood, as the fish would be sold for the highest price and have been fed and doused with a variety of chemicals
  • Harms coastal and ocean ecosystems that existing fishing livelihoods depend on, due to the transfer of disease, fecal pollution, toxic chemical applications, and fish escapes.
GOAL 1: MANAGE SUSTAINABLY AND EFFICIENTLY Improve the regulatory system for sustainable coastal and marine aquaculture through collaboration with partners.” 

In relation to offshore finfish farming, Goal 1 Objectives actually contradict the Vision and in reality, would accomplish the following:
  • Objective 1A: supporting "the establishment of a clear, efficient, and appropriate regulatory framework for sustainable offshore aquaculture” means the agency is advocating for passage of the AQUAA Act, a bill that would open federal waters to industrial-scale fish farming and actually give NOAA the authority to regulate this space. The bill fails to protect the marine environment or remedy the negative economic impacts such an expansion would have on other existing industries or small-scale fishing livelihoods.
  • Objective 1B to "authorize small-scale or limited-time aquaculture activities” including "commercial trials” is the agency’s promise to keep giving taxpayer money to private companies to artificially distort the marketplace away from community-driven aquaculture programs. 
  • Objective 1C is the agency’s promise to "advance NOAA aquaculture directives under existing Executive Orders,” meaning that the Biden Administration plans to endorse Trump’s Executive Order 13921, a disastrous order with the goal of eviscerating environmental and social safeguards in order to fast-track and rubber-stamp the permitting process under the guise of streamlining regulations.
  • Objective 1D is the agency’s promise to eagerly abide by Trump’s EO 13921, by identifying more "aquaculture opportunity areas” to aid prospective investors in siting their facilities, even though several of the existing AOA proposals are already controversially-sited and lack any public buy-in.

GOAL 3: EDUCATE AND EXCHANGE INFORMATION Build awareness and support for coastal and marine aquaculture through two-way communication with diverse stakeholders and partners”

Unfortunately, the agency plans to use taxpayer money to attempt to convince people that harmful forms of aquaculture are just as beneficial as truly sustainable forms of aquaculture.
  • Objective 3A calls the propaganda campaign an effort to "improve public perception”
  • Objectives 3C and 3E appear to value "equitable access to concise education” and outreach to "diverse audiences,” but when compared to the agency’s actual practices, that is, ignoring all voices in coastal communities that are in opposition to industrial-scale development.
Conclusion: Instead of steamrolling fishing communities to force an industrial offshore fish farming regime on our federal waters, NOAA should go back to the drawing board to develop truly community-focused proposals for supporting seafood production, including support for independent fishermen and small-scale, sustainable aquaculture.

 If you want to read the full draft plan, you can find it here.

Andrianna Natsoulas
Campaign Director
Don't Cage Our Oceans

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Palingenetic Fascism takes the Alamo

The soul of the Republican Party is dead. The Platform from the Texas GOP conference shows they are coming after the rights and the lives of someone—maybe everyone—you know. And then they’re coming for you. This is Palingenetic Ultranationalism - aka Fascism. TrumpPutin was just a trial run. SOURCE is their platform itself. Linked at the bottom.

Definition of Marriage: We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal, and moral covenant only between one biological man and one biological woman.

State Authority over Marriage: We support withholding jurisdiction from the federal courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the definition of marriage.
Spousal Benefits: We shall not recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status a spouse, as defined in Principle #6 of the Platform, including granting benefits by political subdivisions. 
No-Fault Divorce: We urge the Legislature to rescind unilateral no-fault divorce laws and support covenant marriage and to pass legislation extending the period of time in which a divorce may occur to six months after the date of filing for divorce. 
Nullify Unconstitutional We believe the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, overturning the Texas law prohibiting same-sex marriage in Texas, has no basis in the Constitution and should be nullified.


We recognize that gender identity disorder is a genuine and extremely rare mental health condition and that denial of an immutable gender binary not only denies those with the condition proper mental healthcare but also leads to physically and psychologically abusive “social transitioning” as well as irreversible physical mutilation. We urge the State Legislature to pass legislation that requires adherence to sex identifications on all official documents that will be based upon biological gender, as well as legislation enacting civil penalties and fiscal compensation awarded to de-transitioners who have received “gender affirming surgery” as compensation for malpractice.


Abolish Abortion: Since life begins at fertilization, we urge the Texas Legislature to abolish abortion 1242 through enacting legislation that would immediately secure the rights to life and would nullify any and all federal statutes, regulations, orders, and court rulings that would deny these rights.

Inviolability of Life and Fundamental Right to Life: All innocent human life must be respected and safeguarded from fertilization to natural death; therefore, the unborn, the aged, and the physically or mentally challenged have a fundamental individual right to life, which cannot be infringed. We respect the uniqueness of human life and oppose practices which corrupt human DNA, mix human and animal DNA, or other trans-humanist initiatives that do not respect the sanctity and uniqueness of human life. All humans are endowed by their creator with sovereign rights of ownership of their person and DNA, regardless of any DNA modification, and claims to the contrary are invalid.


State Self-Defense: We urge the Texas Legislature to invoke Art I, § 10, cl. 3 of the US Constitution, also known as the state self-defense clause, which asserts that under an active invasion (as defined or declared by the Governor of the State or Texas Legislature), the sovereign state of Texas has the authority and duty to defend Texas citizens against “imminent Danger,” not admitting delay, by any and all appropriate measures the sovereign state defines as necessary to defend from such assaults.

Immediately equip the Texas Military with the necessary tools and authority to serve and protect Texas State territories and citizens.

Fair Elections Procedures: We support the right of eligible voters to cast a ballot in each election once, but we oppose illegal voting, illegal assistance, or ineligible persons. We support:
  • Vigorous enforcement of all our election laws as written and oppose any laws, lawsuits, and judicial decisions that make voter fraud very difficult to deter, detect, or prosecute.
  • Voter Photo ID.
  • Prohibition of internet voting for public office and any ballot measure.
  • That mail-in ballots must be requested and only granted to those that cannot physically appear in-person.
  • Increased scrutiny and security in balloting by mail to including removal of Section 87.014 (d-1) of the Texas Election code to require once again full signature verification with the need to rebut regardless of whether paper identification numbers are on the application and ballot carrier envelope.
  • Felony status for willful violations of the election code and increasing penalty for voter fraud from a misdemeanor back to a felony.
  • The constitutional authority of state legislatures to regulate voting, including disenfranchisement of convicted felons.
  • Changes to the appropriate sections of Texas law that would deny or cancel homestead exemptions, driver licenses, and License to Carry, if the addresses on those documents DO NOT match the address on the voter’s registration
  • Consolidating elections to primary, run-off, special called, and General Election days and locations
  • Sequentially numbered and signed ballots to deter counterfeiting.
  • Expanding the Attorney General’s staff for investigating election crimes and restoring the ability of the Attorney General to prosecute any election crimes.
  • The ability for civil lawsuits to be filed for election fraud or failure of officials to follow the election code.
  • Allowing trained Poll Watchers from anywhere in Texas with local Party or Candidate approval.
  • Creating processes that will allow rapid adjudication of election law violation disputes as they occur and before violations can be successfully perpetrated.
  • Withdrawing from Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

Voter Registration: We support restoring integrity to the voter registration rolls and reducing voter fraud by:
  • repealing all motor voter laws.
  • requiring voters to re-register, if they have not voted in a five-year period.
  • requiring photo ID of all registrants.
  • requiring proof of residency and citizenship along with the voter registration application. retaining the 30-day registration deadline.
  • requiring that a list of certified deaths be provided to the Secretary of State in order for the names of deceased voters be removed from the list of registered voters. periodic checks on the voter rolls to ensure all currently registered voters are eligible.
  • giving the Secretary of State enforcement authority to ensure county registrar compliance with Secretary of State directives.
  • revising Title 19 funding to avoid incentivizing retention of ineligible voters.
  • use any undedicated federal election funds received to improve the security of our online voter registration data.


One World: The United States is a sovereign nation founded on the principles of freedom. We reject any assertion of authority over our nation or its citizens from foreign individuals or entities, such as the World Economic Forum, World Health Organization, and the United Nations. We reject the concept of One World Government, or The Great Reset.

United Nations: The United Nations is a detriment to the sovereignty of the United States and other countries; because of this we support:
  • Our withdrawal from the current United Nations.
  • The removal of the United Nations from United States soil.
  • The opposition to placement of US troops under command of the United Nations.
  • The rejection of all Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030 policies and programs.
  • The rejection of all related NGOs, councils, and environmental programs.
  • A zero-budget allotment of American tax dollars to any United Nations programs.
  • The opposition to any designation of World Heritage Sites in the United States and especially in Texas.
  • Withdrawal from the UN Arms Trade Treaty.
  • Withdrawal from the corrupt World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Prohibition of any Global Pandemic Treaty, International Health Regulations (IHR), or amendments to IHR that would infringe on our national sovereignty.
  • A credible, impartial, and international investigation into the WHO’s and China’s actions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Withdrawal from the UN International Baccalaureate Organization.
  • The rejection of the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • The rejection of any attempt to allow the United Nations or any other foreign entity to levy taxes on the United States or its citizens.


Election: We believe that the 2020 election violated Article 1 and 2 of the US Constitution, that various secretaries of state illegally circumvented their state legislatures in conducting their elections in multiple ways, including by allowing ballots to be received after November 3, 2020.

We believe that substantial election fraud in key metropolitan areas significantly affected the results in five key states in favor of Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

We reject the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States.

We strongly urge all Republicans to work to ensure election integrity and to show up to vote in November of 2022.

Source: Report of the 2022 Permanent Platform and Resolutions Committee

“The battlefield used to be between Republicans and Democrats,” he told the convention on Saturday. “Then it was between conservatives and liberals. Now the battlefield has once again changed. We must improvise, adapt and overcome to defeat our enemy. This new battlefield, this new battlefield is between patriots and traitors.”  More

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Porter runs for Charter Review Board

 The Charter Review Board's plan to reduce our rights to actively participate in our Home Rule Sarasota County Charter went before the Board on Tuesday, and the Board unanimously voted to hold a Public Hearing, which is required before they can place their amendment on the ballot - an amendment that will make it harder for citizens to amend the Charter. The Board wasn't even going to discuss the CRB's plan until several citizens spoke up - Vic Rohe, Alexandra Coe, Mike Cosentino and more. 

The CRB has several open seats up for election this November, and a new candidate has declared that he's running. Ray Porter, who ran for CRB in 2016, has entered the race -- here's his statement:

Look Beyond the D

On Friday, June 10, I submitted my official paperwork to run once again for the Sarasota County Charter Review Board. Hopefully, this time the voters will look beyond the D after my last name and realize I support the issues over 60 percent of voters also support in this county.

For example, mandatory recycling (approved by the voters in November 1990); single-member district voting for county commission (approved by the voters in 2018 and reaffirmed in 2020); a vibrant, open and free exchange of ideas during Charter Review Board meetings (preserved so far, but always under attack); and reasonable, prudent controls on sprawling growth that endangers Sarasota County's fragile environment and the future livability and unique character of our special part of Florida (perhaps a lost cause).

The Charter Review Board has always served as the alternative method for citizens to circumvent the Sarasota County Commission when that board acts in lock step against the will of the majority of citizens. That's why the county commission over the past 50 years has repeatedly sought ways to block, undermine, discredit, belittle, devalue and ultimately eliminate the CRB. 

It's unfortunate that the Sarasota County Commission will not embrace the founding principle and stated goal of the CRB contained in the Charter - our county's establishing document - "On behalf of the citizens of Sarasota County, the Charter Review Board shall review and recommend changes to the County Charter for improvement of County government."

In other words - the citizens, all of us, are given the opportunity to make changes we feel will IMPROVE county government. For many on the current board, and previous boards, this concept was threatening, upsetting, annoying, and perhaps represents an affront and challenge to their ultimate power and control over the citizenry.

The preservation of the CRB is my primary goal for running once again, and even in defeat, if I can get this message out there once again - the importance of liberty, freedom and democracy in Sarasota County - then I've done all I can.

Ray is at

Monday, June 6, 2022

We see them, they just think we don't.

You know, in some municipalities - the lovely city of Asheville, NC, for example - government agendas are published two weeks ahead of time, giving citizens a chance to go through them carefully, and circulate annotated comments with context and analysis for those who could be impacted by decisions their Board is contemplating.

In Sarasota County, Board agendas come out late on Friday afternoon for the following Tuesday. The agenda for tomorrow, June 7, is here, and it has 77 items. If Alexandra Coe, who is a member of the Charter Review Board, had not circulated an email today, many would not be aware of item #2, by which the Board can vote to hold a public hearing to make it more difficult for citizens to amend the county charter. 

Here is what Ms. Coe wrote:

Liberty has no party and if these amendments pass, there will be NO GOVERNMENT of, for and by the people in Sarasota County.
We need people at the Board of County Commission meeting at 1660 Ringling tomorrow morning at 8:45 to speak and fill the room. The agenda is attached. Please notify your groups.The Republican Liberty Caucus is presenting a resolution to postpone the hearing and asking for revisions to the amendments.
Short history...
A Special Committee was created in 2019, in response to the SMD amendment passing to make it more difficult to amend the Charter
On October 14, 2020, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and without citizen input or consent, the Sarasota County Charter Review Board held a public hearing and approved two proposed amendments to ARTICLE VII, Section 7.1 of the Sarasota County Charter.
Popular Sovereignty is government based on consent of the people. The government’s source of authority is the people, and its power is not legitimate if it disregards the will of the people. These proposed amendments violate popular sovereignty.

Here's the thing - these amendments emerged from a backroom plot back in 2020. They arose in reaction to the fact that citizens of Sarasota had shocked the established syndicate by successfully changing our County Charter to Slngle Member District Voting. 

The Board tried every which way - including holding a costly special election last year - to reverse the will of the voters - but SMDs prevailed. Instead of developers buying official seats, actual candidates from Districts 2 and 4 will face the voters of their districts in this year's election.

The Charter Review Board has been working on this strategic sabotage of our amendment powers for more than TWO YEARS -- yet it's only slipped into the agenda now, for tomorrow, June 7, 2022. The Board will set a date - July 12, it seems - for a public hearing, then set a special election, so that citizens of Sarasota can vote to reduce their ability to amend their own County Charter.

Yep. Sneaky motions, sneaky agendas, Board machinations that try to keep citizens in the dark, out of the loop, and so confused that they'll vote against their own rights and interests.

Perhaps it's time for the adults in the room to let these children know we see them.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Now that developers are writing our Comp Plan, who needs regional planners?

Chairman Maio supports effort to detach counties from regional planning expertise:

In the 1980s, forward-seeing elected officials in Florida helped create a group of regional planning councils charged with the responsibility to take a wider view of planning and growth. They had the independent expertise to examine large development proposals and critique them, and the power to require developers to adhere to sound planning principles.

Under Gov. Jeb Bush the regulatory powers of the councils were weakened, then essentially removed by Gov. Rick Scott. 

The councils continue to provide regional perspective, population and traffic data and more to their member counties, but the rigorous effort to restrain growth in favor of quality of life, economic stability, and sustainable development is no longer a step in the approval of large developments (e.g. Hi Hat Ranch, Skye Ranch, Lakewood Ranch, etc.).

In a letter submitted for Board approval, Sarasota County Commission Chair Alan Maio supports a Lee County initiative to change state law regarding county commission attendance and participation in Regional Planning Council meetings from mandatory to "permissive" status. If the measure passes, counties basically would no longer need to participate or benefit from regional planning advisories unless they felt like it. 

Earlier this year, the Board enthusiastically agreed to have developers Rex Jensen and Pat Neal create a new component of our Comprehensive Plan - one which would allow Jensen to ignore constraints built into the plan.

The Comp Plan is the legal, binding vision of the people of Sarasota - or was, until this Board and its developer overlords begin to shred it. 

Here is the draft of Maio's letter attached to the Tuesday, May 24 Sarasota Board Agenda:


May 24, 2022

The Honorable Cecil Pendergrass


Lee County Board of County Commissioners
P.O. Box 398
Fort Myers, FL 33902-0398

Dear Commissioner Pendergrass:

Thank you for your recent letter dated May 4, 2022, regarding the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council (SWFRPC).

The Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners has considered your request and authorized me as Chairman to advise you of our support of legislation amending Florida Statutes making membership in Regional Planning Councils permissive rather than mandatory.

This position will be included in our 2023 State Legislative Priorities which the Board will consider later this year.


Alan Maio


Sarasota County Commission
Jonathan R. Lewis, County Administrator
Robert R. Lewis, Director, Governmental Relations


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

A builder leaves Sarasota County

 Dear Sirs and Ma’ams,

My name is Josh Wynne. I was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida; the ninth generation of my family from Florida. 

As I take time to write this, my wife continues to pack, as we have sold our business and our home, and we have purchased several properties and a home in Citrus County. On Wednesday, Michelle and I will make our move to Homosassa where we will live while we build our waterfront home in unincorporated Crystal River. We love Florida, and we especially love the wild places of Florida, which is why we love Citrus County, and which is why we are leaving Sarasota County. Citrus County remains largely unmolested by the hands of the worst land developers. 

 This is the reason for my letter. 

 I witnessed the demise of Sarasota County at the hands of a few crafty developers. I watched as remarkably beautiful lands were separated from every single living thing on them, at the hands of these developers who had the funds, the legal teams, and the connections to make things happen to land that should never be allowed to happen—that are not allowed to happen. And still, with corporate strength, money, resources, and connections, these trespasses can happen, and often happen at the expense of the tax payers themselves. 

Carlos Beruff

 These previously beautiful lands, once laid bare, will be replaced by soul-less homes, devoid of any of the architectural character that creates wonderful places, celebrated places, places worth visiting. These homes will be built by the lowest bidders. They will be built to the lowest acceptable standards, by every measure. The sub-contractors that build these homes will be underpaid, encouraged to work on the margins of legality, and will struggle with timely pay, and will often struggle to be paid at all.

 Carlos Beruff, from my perception, is one of those developers.

 I am a home builder. I do not, and have never competed with Mr. Beruff, so please do not confuse this correspondence with any sort of business related issue. I am sending this correspondence to make you consider the probable consequences of your actions, should you accept his bid for your parcel for sale. This email is a plea for a thoughtful consideration of other pathways to benefit the citizens of Citrus County that do not include opening the door to the proverbial chicken coop to the Fox, himself.

 I make no assertions to his character beyond what has been written and published in the attached links, but mark my words, once he is in Citrus County, you will no longer have authority over the happenings on your lands. 

 I will be releasing this correspondence to the public. Should you fail to consider this warning, the voters of Citrus County will know your record on this issue. Please vote smartly. 

 If you sell him that land, don’t spend the money. You may need it for litigation. 

 The following links were sourced in order by simply searching, “Carlos Beruff.” There are plenty more, none of them flattering.

Josh Wynne

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Will Sarasota Taxpayers give Benderson another Bail-Out?

Sarasota citizens Pat Rounds and Bill Zoller have been tracking the development and funding of the Benderson Rowing Park since 2013. Below is an email circulated by Rounds regarding the County's reported intention to consider giving Benderson another $20 million in tax dollars:


May 8, 2022

Why is the County Commission considering a $20 million “bail-out” for SANCA and Benderson Park Foundation? 

Years ago, both organizations pledged to raise private millions to build a permanent boat house, grandstands and restrooms at Benderson Rowing Park.They never delivered on their promises.  


If you think this bail-out proposal is totally irresponsible, please share your views with the County Commission:


Please forward this message to others who value fiscal responsibility. See details below:


On Tuesday, May 10, 2022, the Sarasota County Commission will consider allocating another $20 million to complete the “World Class” Benderson Rowing Park promised in 2013 to be funded through a “public/private” partnership. 

While Sarasota County approved $19.5 public million in 2013 for park infrastructure in plans to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships, the private millions pledged for a permanent boat house, grandstands and restrooms have never materialized. This failure to deliver has sparked public concern for years.


More from the Sarasota News Leader


Now some officials are returning to the public trough to fill the massive funding chasm created when the County Commission apparently failed to demand a binding commitment from private partners at the time this huge venture was initiated. Sarasota County should not approve any more public funding—regardless of the source.  Nine years ago, the County approved $19.5 million through a bonding provision in the County Charter, using Tourist Development Tax (TDT). It’s past time for SANCA and Benderson Park Foundation to deliver on the private millions promised years ago, but not delivered.  Hollow private funding pledges should be denounced, not minimized and rewarded with more public millions.  


Corroborating documentation: 

  • Attached is a copy of the 2013 County Press Release announcing the 2017 World Rowing Championships at Benderson Rowing Park. SANCA would raise private funds for Phase III permanent structures (boat house, grandstands and restrooms) in time for the 2017 World Rowing Championships (WRC). The boathouse and grandstands were not built, so to avoid an international embarrassment---the State Legislature approved an extra $5 million to rent temporary facilities (bleachers, tents/showers for rowers, portable toilets, etc.) for the WRC.  


From the 2013 County Press Release:

“...More than $40 million in public and private-sector funds have been committed to help transform a former borrow pit into Nathan Benderson Park, the premier rowing venue in North America, capable of hosting an Olympic-caliber event. Sarasota County's investment, $19.5 million, comes from a Tourist Development Tax (TDT), which is paid by visitors to the area. Those funds have paid for Phase I (dredge and fill) and Phase II (installation of park amenities, hardscaping and landscaping). Phase III of the project, construction of a state-of-the-art boathouse, timing towers, grandstands and other amenities, will be funded by SANCA and corporate support...”


  • See 2017 ABC/Tampa investigation on the rowing park. 

  • Note the grandiose aerial vision of the rowing complex and how a SANCA board member appeals for more public funds to match an uncorroborated claim of private millions raised to finish the park.  Nothing has changed---Hollow promises of private funding followed by requests for more public funding. 

           Rowing Park Controversy (ABC/Tampa investigation on Youtube)


     Is there a conflict with the Sarasota County Charter?

...Any issuance of such notes, bonds, certificates of participation or other instrument of indebtedness in a principal amount exceeding that fiscal year's bonding limitation must have prior approval by majority vote at a referendum specifically authorizing the issuance of such an instrument of indebtedness in excess of that year's bonding limitation...The County may not avoid the requirements hereof by issuing or causing to be issued notes, bonds, certificates of participation or other instruments of indebtedness which reflect a single, simultaneous or concurrent undertaking but which have been divided in such fashion so as to avoid the limitations as herein set forth. (Section 5.2 Amended 11/6/1984, 11/8/1994, 3/14/2000, and 9/10/2002, and Renumbered 8/31/2004.)”

           In 2013, the County Commission approved the maximum bonding allowed to pay for rowing park infrastructure without triggering a county-wide referendum. 

         Doesn't the County Charter prohibit issuing multiple bonds for the same project without holding a public referendum?    

Pat Rounds


Additional background articles:

2013—Herald Tribune:  $20 million in private donations needed to complete rowing park.

“...They need $20 million from private donors to finish the complex and deliver on the promise of a truly exceptional sports venue, a huge task to complete before 2017, when backers of the project hope to host rowing's greatest competition outside the Olympics, the world championships.

All of the key structures needed to define the rowing venue as a world-class attraction — from the finish line tower to timing huts, grandstands and a boathouse — must be financed through private donations.

Some of those structures are essential to hosting the rowing championships. Ideally, the entire project would be built out in time for the event.

Yet no money has been raised and the two-year-old nonprofit handling fundraising already has reshuffled board members.

2015—Herald Tribune: Foundation raises funds for Nathan Benderson Park

“....A new foundation headed by community and political leaders has raised $3.5 million for Nathan Benderson Park and hopes to raise at least $11 million in private donations for the emerging international rowing venue over the next 12 months.

The Nathan Benderson Park Foundation, headed by Randy Benderson of the Manatee County-based real estate firm, aims to be the fundraising arm that will draw the private financial support needed to complete the rowing facility's major structures. The nonprofit organization, which is separate from the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates — another nonprofit that is responsible for the park operations — will continue to raise donations to help build towers at the start and finish lines, a boathouse and several other buildings at the park..”