SARASOTA (WWSB) - “I think it’s a well designed project,” said Peter Fanning, a downtown Sarasota resident.
Fanning walks the streets of South Lemon Avenue a few times a day. Despite a concern with plans to remove live oak trees and add palm trees, he’s looking forward to the transformation of the street from First Street to Pineapple Avenue.
“I’m very supportive of what the city is trying to do, to make this a better and more comfortable place for pedestrians,” said Fanning.
Fanning and many other residents attended an open house Monday night hosted by the city of Sarasota, giving them an up close look at the improvements. The city plans on replacing the asphalt street with red bricks, removing the curbs and turning Paul Thorpe Jr. Park into a more welcoming space.
“We really feel that it’s part of our ongoing work to make downtown much more walkable, much more beautiful," said Alex Davis Shaw, City Engineer for Sarasota. "And we are very excited to add this little bit because we’ve seen how successful the other portion of Lemon Avenue has been.”
Patrick Gannon, President of the Downtown Sarasota Condo Association, is thrilled about the project, but he too has concerns about losing shade from the oak trees that will be replaced.
“I think it’s a great project that they are going to be enhancing Lemon Avenue, enhancing Thorpe Park and doing that" said Gannon. "What we are upset about is removing 27 live oak trees of the Lemon Avenue streetscape.”
The city of Sarasota says a lot of the oak trees that are currently there are struggling to survive because of the root and the soil, and they say palm trees will work better because of their root structure. Total cost of this project is more than three and a half million dollars. Construction on this project is expected to begin in mid-May and be finished by November.