2021 Accomplishments

2021 was marked by repeated ups and downs as we responded to the pandemic. Plans were put in hold, then revived, then put back on hold. Despite that, Rosemary District Association has quite a few successes to report. Beyond what is listed below, the our community has grown stronger and is ready to move forward with a vengeance when the virus is no longer holding us back.

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Continued Progress toward a Park in Rosemary District
  • Land Purchase: City of Sarasota purchased land for park at Central & Blvd of the Arts in January, 2021

  • Neighborhood Financial Contribution: Rosemary District residents, stakeholders and friends contributed funds toward the purchase and future park amenities. The total, so far, is over $133,000 from 170+ contributions. $120,000 of that supplemented the City’s appropriation for the land purchase.

  • Design Firm Selection: RDA worked with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department to identify Kimley-Horn as the park design firm most aligned with the neighborhood’s goals for the park.

  • Public Input: RDA actively supported of Kimley-Horn’s effort to collect community input on park wishes and needs, resulting in a record 852 responses by October.

  • 3 Design Concepts: Kimley-Horn unveiled 3 initial design concepts aimed at gathering more specific community input on park features to be included or excluded as the design process goes forward.

  • What’s Next:

    • After public input on the 3 design concepts is completed, there will be another round of concept designs and public input before a final design is presented for approval by the City.

    • Demolition of the buildings on the park site is imminent; the area will be sodded until park construction is read to begin.

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Streetscape and Walkability Improvements
  • Streetscape: The City planted canopy trees and new shrubs on Florida Ave south of Blvd of the Arts. Future walkability enhancements like wider sidewalks and street trees will result from the City designating Cocoanut Ave from Fruitville to Blvd of the Arts as a “primary grid street.”

  • Pedestrian Safety, Traffic and Parking: Electronic 15 MPH speed limit signs were added to the School Zone at Sarasota School of Arts & Sciences. Pedestrian wait time to cross US-41 at Blvd of the Arts was reduced. The City agreed to retain the traffic-calming speed bumps on Cocoanut Ave.

  • Rosemary District Prioritized: RDA efforts were successful on several fronts to keep Blvd of the Arts and 10th Street improvements high on the City’s Transportation Master Plan. Design work is underway, some construction funding has been budgeted, and the City Attorney agreed that, legally, impact fees from development in the neighborhood should be used in the neighborhood.

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Synergistic Collaboration with other Groups
  • Rosemary District Businesses and Not-for-Profits: “Meet Your Business Neighbor” was added in 2021 to RDA’s monthly newsletter to spotlight non-residential members of our community. We continued to provide them free publicity on Facebook, the newsletter and on the RDA website. Our July Community Meeting presented a panel from three of Rosemary District’s social service agencies.

  • RADD Initiatives: RADD, a project sponsored by DreamLarge, has energized the neighborhood this year with BLVD Bike Rides, mural initiatives, and a revived Night Market on Blvd of the Arts. Whenever appropriate, RDA has championed and supported their efforts.

  • The Bay Park: Our neighbor across US-41 will undoubtedly become a major regional attraction; there will be pros and cons in that for Rosemary District. This year, we successfully advocated for the County/City ordinance governing the park’s funding to include support for bike/pedestrian and multimodal projects within the funding area which includes portions of Rosemary District and our Blvd of the Arts and 19th Street corridors. We will continue to look for win-win opportunities for our neighborhood and Bay Park Conservancy.

  • Other Organizations: Neighborhood groups like CCNA and DSCA are among the organizations that we work with.

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Community Engagement
  • Quarterly Community Meetings: Despite the pandemic, we held all four meetings in 2021.

    • The featured speaker at January’s online “annual” meeting was the new City Manager, Marlon Brown. We summarized RDA’s accomplishments in 2020 and introduced the nominees for election to the RDA Board.

    • April’s meeting featured Destin Wells of the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation and a park progress report.

    • In July we were back in person with a panel featuring Amy Jones of The Salvation Army, Stephanie Fraim of Planned Parenthood and Bill Wilson of Resurrection House moderated by Jon Thaxton.

    • October featured an interview with Kevin Stiff, the City of Sarasota’s Coordinator of Homeless Response and introduced James Pankonin and Phillip DiMaria of the Kimley-Horn park design team.

Rosemary District’s WSLR/Fogartyville has been an essential partner in both providing a venue for in-person meetings and technical expertise to broadcast the meetings to the community.

  • Website, Newsletter, Facebook: The RDA website [www.rosemarydistrictassociation.org] continued to grow with new information for the neighborhood. A page dedicated to our park features the most recent design concepts and will provide links to surveys when they are available. A new page maps and displays 43 pieces of public art in Rosemary District. This is the first step in an effort to sponsor a neighborhood artwalk which would include visits to galleries and studios. All issues of the monthly newsletter, which now reaches over 600 people, are also available on the website.

  • Neighborhood Events: In 2021, we primarily supported other organizations which held events. RDA has a booth at the monthly Night Market where we promote the organization and the neighborhood. We expect to have more opportunities for events in 2022.

Advocacy

We continue to build on positive relationships with City elected officials, management and staff. We are very vocal in advocating for the neighborhood in comments at public meetings, letters and emails to the Commissioners and in one-on-one conversations, but maintain a spirit of collaboration, rather than contention. We can measure our success in City actions listed above and the City’s leaders attending our Community Meetings. We anticipation continuing 2022 the same way.