VENICE — The City Council will ask Sarasota County to make widening Laurel Road from Knights Trail Road east to Jacaranda Boulevard a priority road project.

It’s a request that Council Member Joe Neunder said he’s “99.9%” sure the county commissioners will be receptive to.

If they sign on, the county will enter into a partnership with developer Pat Neal, whom the the city has been working with, to get a design completed, acquire right of way, amass funding and four-lane the road.

Part of the money will be mobility fees collected on construction in the city, City Manager Ed Lavallee told the City Council Tuesday.

Two other projects involving county roads within the city limits will also be eligible for a share of those funds, he said.

The city has committed $2.3 million to improving the Pinebrook Road/East Venice Avenue intersection, which is in the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization’s five-year plan for consideration in 2024.

It has also identified the need to improve the Pinebrook Road entrance to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Venice campus, which SMH has said it will pay half of, Lavallee said.

The Council can use its approach to widening Laurel Road as a model for the other two projects, he said, but ultimately the county will decide where the mobility fees get spent.

“It’s clear to me that as a city our role is to request and recommend,” Vice Mayor Rich Cautero said.

Other business

Also on Tuesday, the Council:

• Approved the hiring of VPD Capt. Charlie Thorpe as the next chief. Current Chief Tom Mattmuller retires as of Dec. 31.

Thorpe joined the force two years ago after 27 years with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. He’s currently the Patrol Division commander.


Lavallee said his promotion is “another example of great succession planning.”

“We are lucky to have him,” he said.

• Recognized Assistant City Manager Len Bramble on his retirement after more than 14 years of service. He and his wife, Monica, are moving to Washington to be close to family.

• Adopted a resolution setting the city’s Municipal Election for Nov. 2.

• Adopted a resolution requested by the Department of Transportation giving Lavallee the authority to approve temporary closures of U.S. 41 Business and the portion of the bypass in the city for special events.

• Adopted a resolution accepting utilities and improvements in Palencia Phase 1.

• Adopted a resolution approving an application to the State Revolving Fund Loan Program for funding for the North Venice booster pump station.

• Adopted an ordinance implementing the final year of a five-year program of rate increases for solid waste collection. The increase is 1%.

• Adopted an ordinance creating new rules for mobile food vending.

• Approved a contract with Wright Construction Group Inc. to construct the Taxiway E extension.

• Voted to have the chair of the Charter Review Committee present its recommendations at a Council meeting in October.

• Proclaimed the week of Oct. 3-9, 2021, as “Fire Prevention Week.”

The video of the meeting is at VeniceGov.com under the “Meetings” header.

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