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The Bay Park Conservancy Awarded Over $1 Million by Gulf Coast Community Foundation


The Bay Park Conservancy Awarded Over $1 Million by Gulf Coast Community Foundation

The Bay Park Conservancy Awarded Over $1 Million by Gulf Coast Community Foundation

Grant for Phase 1 development continues foundation’s long-running support of The Bay Park

Gulf Coast Community Foundation has awarded The Bay Park Conservancy an additional $300,000 grant to support the development of the first 10 acres of park on Sarasota bay, bringing Gulf Coast’s cumulative contributions to more than $1 million in direct donations. The funding will help transform land that is mostly a parking lot into a blue-and-green oasis, celebrating nature and promoting environmental sustainability and accessibility.

In addition, Gulf Coast has provided vital leadership, fundraising support, and fiscal administration to help guide this project from initial inspiration to the current Phase 1 of development. 

“Gulf Coast has been a champion for The Bay Park since it was first imagined in 2013, and continues to be a close, supportive partner,” said AG Lafley, founding CEO of The Bay Park Conservancy. “We are proud and grateful for their collaboration in building an open, accessible, free and welcoming park for the full and rich diversity of our community.”

Generous Gulf Coast donors also have recommended over $1 million in direct grants to the project from their funds at the foundation. Gulf Coast has served as The Bay Park Conservancy’s fiscal agent since early on. 

In addition, Jon Thaxton, Gulf Coast’s senior vice president for community leadership, has been a passionate leader, advocate, and supporter of The Bay from the beginning. His leadership has been valuable to the project since the original inspiration during a 2013 inter-city chamber of commerce visit to Nashville, TN. 

“The vision to transform the Sarasota bayfront into a world-class park, accessible to all, inspired me from the first time it was discussed,” said Thaxton. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to correct numerous environmental mistakes of the past, provide jobs, and offer future generations a sustainable asset that will benefit the community in perpetuity.”

One of Gulf Coast’s unique contributions to ensuring the environmental legacy of the park included a $100,000 grant to provide an innovative water-quality tool. This tool, a “denitrification trench,” diverts rainwater through the trench to neutralize excess nitrogen before it seeps into the groundwater and ultimately flows into the bay. 

“Gulf Coast’s vision is a thriving community with opportunities for all,” said Thaxton. “When I think of the future of this region I see The Bay, and I see future generations enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime oasis.”

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