SARASOTA — Following the success of Charlotte County’s water summit last month, Sarasota County commissioners will consider, during its meeting Wednesday, hosting a similar event.
County Administrator Jonathan Lewis will bring the matter up for discussion during his report to the commissioners.
The discussion comes two weeks after Commissioner Christian Ziegler suggested the idea on the very day of the Charlotte County summit, Jan. 29.
According to a memo from Lewis to commissioners, that event proved to be very successful with almost 640 people gathering at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center in Punta Gorda to hear the presentations and panel discussions.
Lewis reported he had dispatched three members of county staff to the event to listen and observe.
Noting that water quality is one of the county’s top priorities, Ziegler said of the summit, “I think it would be a great opportunity for us, as a county, to explain what we’ve done because I think we’ve been very proactive.”
His fellow four commissioners were quick to voice support for the idea, although Commission Chairman Charles Hines cautioned that a summit was not something that could be put together quickly.
Lewis picked up on that in his memo, mentioning topics, timing, location, cost, and attendees among the items for consideration if commissioners want to proceed with a summit.
He suggested that an “ambitious but practical timeline” for the county to hold such an event would be in April or May.
Possible venues with enough room to host hundreds of attendees would include Robarts Arena, the city of Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, Riverview High School, New College, and the Venice Community Center.
Lewis also noted in his memo that besides the Charlotte County summit, the city of Venice and State College of Florida jointly hosted a water quality forum that focused on Florida-friendly landscaping. In addition, the Argus Foundation plans an event on March 15 focusing on water quality.
Interest in holding a summit comes after an extremely severe and long-lasting red tide event last year, that still continues to plague area beaches on occasion, and residents questioning commissioners about actions the county has taken.
Lewis did point out in his memo that county staff have used many opportunities over several years to educate residents about water quality, which have “ramped up” over the past year.
With the normal Tuesday meeting being cancelled, commissioners will meet only Wednesday in commission chambers at the County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. with no afternoon session scheduled.
Access Sarasota TV will also televise the meeting, and the agenda is available at www.scgov.net by clicking on Meetings and Agendas under the Services A-Z tab. For more information, residents can also call the county’s Call Center at 941-861-5000.