The uproar over use of Five Points Park was not just a protest. It will prove to be a turning point in our city.
So, you are asking, how could just one event like the Harvey Milk Festival become a pivotal point in the city’s history? The answer is not that it took one event, but rather years of pressure and confusion over how cities work. Sarasota (both the city and county) now finds itself in an awkward adolescent stage between a 1980s model of suburbia to a functioning urban area. This adolescent stage is not just a land use descriptor, but a mindset as well.
Look at our recent struggles: use of public spaces, live music, parking and retail. While other cities seem to steer these heated issues to an ultimate place-making goal, Sarasota fumbles time and time again. The Five Points Park struggle is a perfect example of this transition. It pits the old-school, “get off my lawn” attitude usually associated with gated subdivisions against a new generation of city dwellers who see some degree of noise, light and congestion as indicators of a healthy place.
The Harvey Milk uproar was the breaking point along a string of small eruptions: Condo owners complain, then public officials choose a draconian response, then somebody makes a video and a band of city dwellers decries the removal of the public from public spaces. But this time is different. This is not about a banned festival; this is about a city.
The TWIS team took a look at what is happening in other cities with similar “growing pains,” and found that Sarasota is not lacking for clever minds and active participants. But we are missing two ingredients needed to shape a better city: (1) writing and blogging on how to make great urban places and (2) getting that conversation on the radar of Sarasota’s “new school” of city dwellers. It’s one thing to have a region full of phone callers and letter writers, but it’s a whole new game when those letters are filled with examples of how to do it right.
SRiQ is a new column to ask better questions, cover other cities and make city planning geeks out of all of you. Bloggers all over the country have learned how to make planning, parks, transit and biking sexy. While the TWIS calendar is typically filled with events that eventually get you drinking, dancing or laid, we will now cover upcoming agenda items and why they are important to you. Who knows — that amazing chick/dude next to you just might love to talk dirty about parking garage design.
- Now’s your chance to show off your SRiQ:
What city details has Sarasota gotten right?
o Architecture and design.
o A great use-mix of housing, retail, restaurants and parks.
o The waterfront
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