St. Armands

Residents Association

St. Armands Circle Park

The St. Armands Circle Park is not a parcel of the land that the city owns:  it is part of the public right-of-way.  The park does not exist according to the Sarasota County Property Appraiser.  In the Harding Circle Historic District filing with the National Register of Historic Places--prepared by state historians--it is documented that it "remains a park-like public space".

The City Attorney has indicated that a public right of way must be used "primarily for the purpose for which it was dedicated to the public" (view memo), which we know to be "landscape/city park" per the State's approved application for Circle Park to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The City Attorney has also indicated that a public right of way is "an easement held in trust for the benefit of the general public" and that any allowed use "should be limited in some way so that if necessary, it can still be credibly argued that the primary use" remains intact (view memo).

Events in St. Armands Circle Park have been controversial because they attract vehicles and pedestrians causing traffic backups and public safety concerns:  pedestrians crossing the state divided highway to reach an attractive nuisance, hampering the ability of emergency vehicles to pass, blocking the primary corridor between Longboat Key, Lido Beach, and the mainland, etc...  Residents, merchants, tourists, hotel and restaurant workers, contractors, service providers, and care givers can all be inconvenienced from this.  In 2014, representatives of residents, merchants, and commercial property owners all provided input to the City Attorney which resulted in the St. Armands section of the City's Special Events Ordinance.

It is now generally understood that the city incorrectly issued a "Park Usage Permit" in 2022 for a six-week winter festival which kept the park unusable by the public for an additional three months while the damaged grass was repaired.  This type of permit conferred property rights which the city didn't have the legal authority to do because the St. Armands Circle Park is not a parcel of the land that the city owns:  it is part of the public right-of-way. 

St. Armands Circle Park is designated by City Ordinance as a low-impact "passive park".

In this historical photo of St. Armands Circle (circa 1950s?), you can see that the Circle Park has always been open land. Per this May 2022 report by City Staff, the Circle Park serves an important stormwater management role.

St. Armands Residents Association

P.O. Box 2482, Sarasota, FL  34230

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