The op-ed originally appeared in the Business Observer on November 11, 2021
Organizations seeks quicker timeline for project.
Our community and region are eager for the approved Bay Park Master Plan to be fully completed. While the emerging features of Phase 1 are delightfully surprising the community in character and design, future phase features will fill out the full range of aspirations of The Bay Park. Future features like the Canal District, with its waterfront dining venues, and a bayside amphitheater, are within reach. But some worry that at the current pace, completion will simply take too long. How can this full vision for a free and welcoming park for all be completed much sooner than later?
The Bay Park Conservancy and Sarasota City Management are jointly presenting a revised Partnership Agreement for City Commission approval on Nov. 15. After nearly three years of an effective partnership, Bay Park staff and city management are proposing an agreement that simplifies all Bay Park-related agreements into one, one that streamlines City approvals, and in doing so, accelerates the delivery of the full park as much as five years sooner. The resultant capital and operating savings by the Bay Park Conservancy alone is estimated between $20-30 million.
While our individual organizations’ specific roles in our community are unique, we all are united in cultivating and enhancing our natural and cultural quality of life and our environment. The Bay Park accomplishes this and more. As an example, a portion of the 1.5 miles of waterfront has already been restored and reclaimed, and water quality of storm water discharge from this site and offsite has already been vastly improved with multiple new treatment features. The destroyed and disturbed tidal creek and mangrove area habitat has been restored, and already, new marine creatures are beginning to return.
Public parks improve the overall health and wellness of a city. Vibrant parks foster a community and broaden connections. Parks like The Bay increase property values, sales and tourist tax revenues, and provide commercial opportunity in and around the park. A nearby downtown resident, as well as a working family in an adjacent neighborhood, has a free and welcoming green space to learn, to play, to celebrate and to be immersed in the best of our local natural environment. The Bay Park does indeed enhance the very best of our area’s unique quality of life.
We stand united in having the approved Master Plan implemented sooner and more cost-effectively through a refined long-term partnership process, and urge the City Commission to support its approval.
Heather Kasten, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce
Lisa Krouse, Sarasota County EDC
Christine Robinson, Argus Foundation
To read the original article, click here.