Sunday’s letters: Give up dairy, replace Van Wezel, paying a price for ‘freedom’

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Originally published by the Herald-Tribune

Ian more evidence for replacing Van Wezel

The devastation of Hurricane Ian got me thinking about the importance of replacing the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

We already know that the Van Wezel is within feet of Sarasota Bay. A recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a 14-to-18-inch sea-level rise in Sarasota Bay by 2050.

Consider these other points, which I learned in a recent tour of the building:

  • Moisture from groundwater is coming up through the floor of the basement (below sea level), requiring the linoleum to be replaced every two years. 
  • The Founders Lounge was flooded several weeks ago. 
  • A sewage lift station between the Van Wezel and the bay has flooded in the past and will likely overflow more frequently in the future. 

Hurricane Ian devastated the Venice Theatre building and the facility will have to be rebuilt. The upper part of the building, above the stage, is now completely gone.

What more evidence than the hurricane do we need to justify replacement of our economically important performing arts hall? Scientists are warning us that we can expect more frequent and damaging storms in our future. Let’s get moving, folks!

Ken Shelin, former Sarasota city commissioner

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