Joe Gruters wants Sarasota’s water, cultural treasures receiving their fair share

The veto pen hit Sarasota hard last year. But Gruters says institutions like Selby Gardens deserve state support.

The veto pen landed hard on Sarasota last year, highlighting political schisms between Sen. Joe Gruters and Gov. Ron DeSantis. But Gruters continues to fight for water and road projects in his district.

“I’m hopeful that Sarasota will have a fair chance at bringing home some of these project dollars,” the Sarasota Republican said. “I’m pushing very hard.”

He’s fighting particularly hard for funding for improvements to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which provides both a public community asset and a valuable research center.

Gruters is pursuing $2.8 million for shoreline restoration and protection for Historic Spanish Point, which Selby operates in Osprey. He also wants $1.8 million to provide hurricane resilient glasshouses to safeguard Selby Gardens’ collection of orchids and bromeliads, regarded as the best scientifically significant collection of such plants in the world.

“This funding would help Selby Gardens make more of our living collection available to the public throughout the year,” wrote Selby Gardens President and CEO Jennifer Rominiecki in an appropriations request.

“This state-of-the-art facility will also give Selby Gardens the infrastructure to continue our research advancing the study of conservation, orchids, bromeliads, and endangered native plants like the harissa aboriginum.”

Selby Gardens has secured major funding before, including $600,000 that survived massive vetoes by DeSantis in 2020 amid the pandemic.

Gruters said he’s been amazed at what Selby Gardens has achieved in improvements to its Sarasota and Osprey campuses, especially since Rominiecki came on board as leader.

“They’ve done all of it through non-government grants and private fundraising. This is about the state stepping up and making sure they create a safe atmosphere and a resilient one for the research going on there,” Gruters said.

“To me, it’s just a spectacular part of the community. Every time I go over, I’m impressed with what they have accomplished.”

Other appropriations requests from Gruters include:

$3 million for the FARM at Sarasota County Schools.

$3 million for the SRQ Emergency Operations and Public Safety Complex.

$2.8 million for North Port’s Price Boulevard Mitigation and Mobility Project.

$2.25 million for the North Port Blue Ridge/Salford Neighborhood Water and Sewer Expansion.

$2.2 million for Lightshare Behavioral Wellness & Recovery-24 hour Intake Access Center Crisis Emergency Center.

$2 million for Honore Avenue Widening from Fruitville Road to North of 17th Street.

$1.7 million for the Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind.

$1 million for the Jewish Federation Sarasota Manatee’s Holocaust Education Center.

$1 million for the Sarasota Ocean Technology and Physical Ecology Program Implementation.

$750,000 for the Venice Intracoastal Waterway Second Force Main.

$500,000 for Forty Carrots Family Center: Expansion of Mental Health, Early Education and Parenting Education.

$550,000 for the Florida Clubhouse Coalition’s Rehabilitation & Employment for Adults with Serious Mental Illness.

$272,000 for the Longshoremen’s Maritime Workforce Development Program.

$252,000 for the Financial Literacy For Teens program.

$250,000 for More Foster Families’ Family Finder technology.

$250,000 for the University of Florida IFAS’ Golf Best Management Practices Training Program.

$200,000 for the Perlman Music Program Winter Residency.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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