Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Cautious Progress on Homeless Shelter

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Cautious Progress on Homeless Shelter

Article excerpt


Ideally, the Sarasota county and city commissions would begin this week as partners in the next phase of a project to create a shelter and housing-referral center for chronically homeless adults.

But the two commissions have not -- and probably cannot -- agree on the size and location of such a facility in or near the city of Sarasota, where most of the homeless adults exist or encounter law enforcement officers.

Last Monday -- three days after a meeting of the two boards -- the county commissioners voted to go it alone. This Tuesday, the same commissioners are likely to authorize their staff to continue assessing three properties in an industrial area just north of the city-county border (Myrtle Street, west of U.S. 301). The agenda calls for the staff to initiate appraisals, begin negotiations with the owners and identify funding for construction and operation.

There will be opposition to those sites. Although the north side of Myrtle is industrial or intense commercial, the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex is across the street; to the immediate west are homes and then, farther west, Booker High School. What's more, city officials will contend that too many facilities and services for homeless adults are already located north of Fruitville Road in Sarasota.

County officials will counter that their consultant recommended siting a shelter near existing services and the homeless population in need. They will state that the city rejected many other sites and that locating a shelter and services near the bulk of the adult homeless population is a common practice. They could also note that one location suggested previously by the city, Cattleman Road and Bahia Vista Street, is similar to the Myrtle-301 area -- industrial in immediate proximity, with residential neighborhoods and a school within walking distance.

It is incumbent on the county commissioners, if they focus on the properties north of Myrtle, to hear public concerns and restate why they believe they are the preferable alternatives available. …

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