As public outcry grows, Sarasota considers more homeless shelter sites

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SARASOTA, Fla. – City and county officials got an update today from Dr. Robert Marbut on the proposed “come as you are” homeless shelter. The combined commissions also heard from the community, with the majority wanting to voice their concerns on the issue.

For more than two hours, Sarasota city and county commissioners heard comment after comment about the shelter, with the public sentiment clearly against the proposal.

"We now have to stand up for ourselves because this proposed plan not only invites the homeless but concentrates them right here," said one member of the public speaking at the meeting.

"Dr. Marbut, as far as I’m concerned, took the first shot when he didn't bother to say anything about the residents of Sarasota except to call us N.I.M.B.Y.s,” said Sarasota resident Dale Orlando. “Well I’m not a N.I.M.B.Y., I’m an A.I.M.B.Y. -- they are already in my backyard, and I’m not going to put up with it."

Orlando was in the majority at the special commission meeting that opposed the proposed shelter locations, 1300 North Osprey and 1800 East Avenue. Both locations are currently in the second stage of an environmental feasibility study. Orlando says she has major issues the North Osprey site.

"I’m not quite sure why people are so insistent that when we have a site that has a $10 million deep well-water injection system that we should be building a homeless shelter on top of it," she says.

After hearing the overwhelming opposition to the two proposed sites, both the county and the city voted to consider a third option along Lime Avenue, though many worried the new site will still be meet with safety concerns.

Despite the opposition, there are some who support the current effort to deal with the problem.

"I hope our commission can come to an agreement and realize that the common sense decision to be made is to follow the plan we paid for because I don’t think you’re are going to find anyone who's a better expert on this than Dr. Marbut,” said concerned resident Steve McCallister. “I think he's giving us a great plan, and I really hope that we follow it."