County, city moving forward with Marbut recommendations

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SARASOTA, Fla. - Dr. Robert Marbut, the consultant hired by Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota to examine the homeless problem on the Suncoast, spent Monday presenting the findings in his report. And even though the final draft isn't out yet, local leaders have taken steps to implement some of the suggestions.

Dr. Marbut's final report isn't due until December 29th, but Monday Sarasota County, the City of Venice, the City of North Port, and the City of Sarasota all agreed to extend his contract and move forward with implementing his recommendations.

It’s a move that doesn't sit well with many residents.

"Do I think another shelter should be put in the city of Sarasota? No. It will not solve our problem," says Gordon Hornikel, Jr. about the proposal homeless consultant Dr. Robert Marbut is making to build one of five shelters in the city district. According to his report, there are about 2,000 homeless people in the area and more than 900 of those are families which include children. "All so anybody has to do is go back the Salvation Army on 10th Street, and you will see no less than 50 people a night with all their belongings sleeping on the street. So just building another place isn't just going to help."

But officials disagree. Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota voted to extend Marbut’s contract and ordered environmental studies on the top 3 proposed sites -- all in the city of Sarasota.

"I understand the concerns, but I believe the success of the shelter is going to depend on how it is run," says county commissioner Carolyn Mason.

And to insure that facility runs smoothly, the group voted to have the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department to take on those responsibilities.

That move that has eased some concern about the potential locations. "They need to have a solution work with the city and county and work with the organizations so we can move forward instead of stalling after this report," says concerned resident Lynn Blackledge.