The Music of Democracy

On City

BY KELLY FRANKLIN SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY JUN 8, 2019

The Sarasota Orchestra has been subsidized by the taxpayers of this City with a $1-a-year lease on prime real estate at the Bayfront for over 50 years. The Orchestra has spurned the idea of building their desired concert hall at that location, which is part of the City’s designated cultural center. Their reluctance to build there is has nothing to do with the timeline of build-out of The Bay, and everything to do (by the Orchestra’s CEO’s own admission) with reluctance of certain donors to fund large scale construction near the water. The Vue was recently built on the waterfront. The Ritz Carlton is on the waterfront. The new Quay is being developed on the waterfront. Honestly, if the architects employed by the Orchestra can’t figure out a way to create a climate-change hardened edifice on the Bayfront, then Sarasota, and the many barrier island residents who patronize the symphony, have far larger problems to worry about than where the new concert hall is located. 

Throughout this healthy public debate, the supporters of Preserve Payne Park have expressed nothing but appreciation for what the Orchestra contributes to our community. But appreciation does not mean that we should allow ourselves to be extorted into ignoring the wishes of earlier philanthropists, or writing off the public’s investment in finally making Payne Park the public outdoor recreation space that the Calvin and Martha Payne intended. As Commissioner Hagen Brody pointed out, this false choice was no choice at all for the elected representatives we entrust to serve as stewards of our public lands.

In an April 6 editorial in SRQ Daily, Mr. Paul Caragiulo mischaracterized the breadth and depth of citizen’s legitimate concerns about the idea of privatizing a significant portion of a public park, which tax payers have invested millions in creating. He objected to the fact that Sarasotans took issue with any private entity, no matter how embedded in the cultural fabric of this City, thinking it could commandeer public parkland and ignore the wishes of the generous donors who deeded that land to the citizenry for use as a “park, playground, and for no other purpose”.

Mr. Caragiulo feels entitled to encourage his preferred cultural entities to gobble up public lands.

Although I am a fan of Beethoven, the music of life includes many different kinds of “odes to joy”—like the quacks of the ducks running toward children proffering breadcrumbs. Perhaps ears that hear democracy in action as the noxious cacophony of a “petite political mob” cannot appreciate the beauty in those sounds. We are fortunate indeed that four of our City Commissioners did not allow the voices of the 2,800 Sarasotans who supported our efforts to keep our public park both public and a park to be drowned out by Mr. Caragiulo’s off-pitch insults.

Kelly Franklin is president of Preserve Payne Park.

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