Friday, 14 October 2011

Sarasota is not "all that", or Why in the world did I move to Florida? (3)

Why in the world did I move to Florida? (3)

Some of my friends are fond of saying that they do not live in Florida, but that they live in Sarasota.

To be sure, on my first visit to Sarasota it did not seem a bit like the Florida which I had disdained for years.  It didn’t feel as glitzy, frenetic or crowded as the megalopolis areas of Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, or Orlando, or Tampa/St. Pete.

There is a lot to be said for our city.  We have a lively cultural scene with opera, ballet, symphony and theatre all available (mostly in season), at reasonably affordable prices, and each within fairly easy driving distance.

We have some gorgeous beaches.  Sarasota has also done fairly well in providing public parks. We have a first class library system. There are two decent hospitals. We are over-served by physicians, surgeons and lawyers. 

We also have some fairly good educational establishments (more about this tomorrow), and a "pretty good" daily newspaper.

The crime rate is very low. City and County taxes are too low.

But we also have a fairly smug attitude summed up in the “this is not Florida, it is Sarasota" attitude.  

I often think that we are a bit high on ourselves. I believe that this smugness has led to a bit of in-attention to matters civic -  which is why we’ve all been all too surprised at some malfeasance, corruption, and systemic mismanagement at both City and County levels

For we also have some slowing declining blue collar neighbourhoods.  We have some fairly ugly formerly industrial buildings and brown-field sites.  

We also have the typically American sprawl of retail establishments which line one of the major roads (Route 41) for mile after dreary mile.  We have more than our fair share of urban poverty.  We are still a largely racially segregated City.

Sarasota is “O.K.” in its own way, and I am glad that I moved here.  

But it is still Florida!

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