City of Sarasota decriminalizes marijuana; approves new public art for roundabouts

Sarasota City Commission Approves New Roundabout Art

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - There will soon be new roundabouts and new art on U.S. 41.

During a meeting Tuesday, the Sarasota City Commissioners approved the two final art pieces for the center of the roundabouts that are under construction at 10th Street and 14th Street.

It’s been a long process. In fact, the Public Art Committee first put out the two calls for art in October of last year. The city said it received a total of 209 submissions for the two locations. Now the Public Art Committee has finally narrowed it down to their two favorite pieces.

The first is called Life in the Seagrass by artist Casto Solano to be installed inside the 10th Street roundabout. The artist said the idea came from his love for Florida’s coasts, oceans and mangroves.

The second one is called Poly by artist Nancy Hou, to be installed in the 14th Street roundabout. Hou said this piece resembles light passing through crystal clear water and a cloud against a blue sky.

The decision was no easy feat for the Public Art Committee, who discussed it for several hours and meetings before unanimously voting on these finalists.

“It can represent us as a group, the residents, to people who come from somewhere else, from the outside," said Joanne McCobb, vice chair for the Public Art Committee. "So it’s a lot more than just somebody’s idea for what makes a good sculpture in a roundabout.”

Each roundabout is budgeted for $150,000. To pay for these, the city has a Public Art Fund that developers who build in the area are required to contribute to.

Next, the Commission talked about marijuana. They voted unanimously to approve a new Cannabis Civil Citation Ordinance. This decriminalizes marijuana in the City of Sarasota, turning it instead to a civil matter.

Commissioner Hagen Brody first proposed this ordinance several months ago to advocate for a softer punishment when someone is found with less than 20 grams of marijuana.

Currently, violators are arrested and face prison time and loss of their driver’s license. This new Cannabis Civil Citation will instead only require violators to pay a $100 fine or complete 10 hours of community service.

“This ordinance brings us more in line with, I think, the evolving public opinion," said Commissioner Hagen Brody. "It frees our law enforcement agencies and criminal justice system up to address more serious crimes in our community and I have to commend our police chief.”

Commissioner Brody said he worked with Sarasota Police Chief DiPino on this ordinance. It also states that if marijuana is legalized in the state, this ordinance will expire.

It will take effect in three months.

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