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Forum on Rosemary Park Proposal Gets Contentious

HuB Sarasota’s attempt to create a Park in the Rosemary District draws ire from area property owners.

“This is a self-serving idea created by the owners of the HuB and their online groupies.”

“Bottom line is they’re trying to scare you. They’re making up lies!”

“It’s going to become a crack-den, there’s no doubt about it!”

“Wait a second, he doesn’t get to talk!”

These were the kind of words tossed around on Tuesday evening, when residents of the Rosemary District gathered in the fire station on 4th street to discuss HuB Sarasota’s recent proposal to create a community park in the Rosemary district.

The entrepreneurial group – best known for the and thisweekinsarasota.com – began their campaign to transform the vacant lot located on Central and 6th Avenue into a park in February, launching the website rosemarypark.com and going before the city commissioners to propose the idea.

Citing declining property values, a sense of malaise and figures from the American Planning Association, co-founder of the HuB, Rich Swier Jr., argued that a park will help revitalize the area by bringing in traffic and removing an eyesore. One innovative idea being discussed, he said, is having the park be privately owned and maintained, with the land being leased from the city.

Several property owners have objected to the proposal, prompting the Rosemary District Association to hold an unofficial meeting to discuss the matter. A crowd of more than 30 packed into the small room, with people being forced to stand in the hall just to hear the going-ons.

Rosemary District Association President Lori Frary called the gathering a forum, but it quickly turned into a heated argument. Leading the opposition were Pam and Marcus Anise, owners of the. They contended that the park would attract “the wrong kind of clientele,” and create maintenance, security, insurance and parking issues.

Things got heated at several points, as each side interrupted each other to challenge their points.

Sarasota police officer Joseph Snodgrass acknowledged that the police were stretched thin, often assigning the area to a single officer.

As the one-hour meeting came to a close, with the two sides more distant than ever, Swier concluded, “I’m not saying there aren’t serious concerns; I’m just saying they’re not unaccomplishable. The idea is, we all sit together and prepare that plan.”

He invited attendees to send him feedback at rosemarypark.com and suggested a meeting on the matter is forthcoming. The plan will eventually be presented to the city commissioners.

Tim Sukits March 11, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Jim, we are the young people in this community that put on creative events like Vinyl Music Festival and Noise Ordinance and S/ART/Q exhibitions and Zig Zag Zine expos with Ringling students and many other events that unite our community and bring thousands of visitors to town. We are trying to tell all the smarter, well-established people, who apparently view our business as some kind of playground where we make Monopoly money and know all the logistical and financial difficulties involved with a project that's never been attempted, that we would like to have a place in the Rosemary to hold outdoor events. Since making our request public, we have been insulted, belittled, and altogether dismissed as incompetent children who couldn't possibly manage the creation of an open field run by a committee made up of community members - none of which will be the HuB. In fact, the HuB stands to make no money from this park and has instead pledged $2,500 toward it's creation. It is very disheartening as productive and hard-working members of Sarasota's emerging young creative community to be accused by fellow Sarasotans of plotting some grand scheme for our own gain. We do a lot for Sarasota, and we haven't been given, nor have we asked for, much in return. We want the Rosemary District to become "the Soho of Sarasota," as it's been described for years. We want it to be the epicenter of our young contemporary creatives - Ringling grads, indie bands, tech, bio and artistic entrepreneurs.
Rhona Post March 11, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Tim: Both my partner Walt and myself were present at the Rosemary Court forum this past week. We came to talk about radio, getting the word out about the uniqueness of Rosemary Court, and how business owners might use radio efforts of people to encourage people to cross the line from Fruitville. I was glad to be an observer of such an interesting event; so much so, I will talk about what we observed on my radio show, Anything Goes with Rhona & Company, Saturday night, starting at 9:40 pm. I did pose some questions that were answered. I have many more to ask. I do no think a pro and con forum is the best venue to discuss possibilities. Walt said it well when we left--"there was not much of a community approach/experience". A community means a place where our gifts are received. Under the civil forum set up, it is challenging if not impossible to communicate from a community orientation. Having coached lots of businesses to improve internal and finally external communications, I have many good ideas about how to move this effort along. We'll be talking again, I am sure.
virginia hoffman March 12, 2011 at 01:54 PM
Barbara your onto something here, now that we have a new commission there is hope for this. Citrus Square is a very successful project.
virginia hoffman March 12, 2011 at 02:06 PM
Fact is you do not have buy in from the stakeholders comments on this forum show this. Try new strategy Rich, I know you can be charming when you want to. Rosemary is doing very well in spite of the economic downturn and it would do better if the stakeholders worked together. You sidestepped the stakeholders by putting this on the commission table without the Rosemary association endorsement of a plan. This is why your experiencing the typical push back that always occurs when applicants try to side step neighborhoods & associations. The city has a process that includes public and stakeholder input they are required to do so, I suggest you get with the program.
D.W.White June 01, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Excuse me....but I would love to see a DOG park in the area....

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