Meet the Team is a series of interviews featuring the various professionals on our project team – both in-front and behind-the-scenes – who regularly provide valuable input, countless design iterations, environmental surveys and much more. Without these talented individuals, we would not be where we are today in realizing the possibilities of The Bay Park.
Cathy, who arrived in Sarasota at 10 years old and is a proud product of the Sarasota County School System, was asked to join the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization, where she served as Treasurer. Upon the transition of the SBPO to the Bay Park Conservancy, Layton succeeded AG Lafley as Chair of the Board, her current position. We interviewed Cathy to learn a bit more about her background, her love for public parks and how she envisions the future of The Bay. Watch the video or read below for the full interview.
Can you share a bit more about your background, experience and personal story?
“Sarasota has been home to me since I was ten years old. I was self-employed as a commercial real estate broker and worked in the commercial construction and development business during my career. I am married to a senior housing builder, my brother is a homebuilder, our dad created lovely local neighborhoods — it’s in my blood. Throughout my life, I have been a volunteer, serving my community and worthwhile organizations. My primary focus is The Bay Park Conservancy.”
What is your contribution/role in development of The Bay Park, important design elements and biggest challenges?
“Years of experience in hiring construction consultants and participating in multi-phase projects is part of what I think I bring to The Bay. I am also a process junkie, whether how we manage our funds or how we hire and manage our team members. Well-tuned processes produce the best outcomes.
Is the current uncertainty of our world and economy challenging to us right now? Sure. But does it change our vision timeline? Not one bit. In fact, our team feels more than ever that a legacy civic space that connects all citizens to our most extraordinary natural assets and open spaces for recreation, gathering, reflection, celebration are not only needed, but something we deserve more than ever. A community that shares such common spaces is a stronger, healthier and more unified community. Our team will overcome any current uncertainty because this is a project for all people and for generations. We believe this. Our funders and civic partners believe this. Our neighbors, supporters and future guests believe this. Thankfully, so do our City and County governments, vital partners in transforming passion into a real place.”
What is your favorite park and your contribution or role in development? What are some important design elements in The Bay or other projects?
“My first loved park was Sapsucker Woods in Ithaca, NY, a preserve and nature center visited by grade school kids each year. The sounds of nature, and feelings of being under lush trees … it all started there. Having traveled a good deal in Canada as an adult, we enjoyed exploring Stanley Park. While larger than The Bay Park, it, too, is fronted by water, English Bay, and is in a very urban area. Stanley Park’s opportunities for visitors is diverse: sanctuary in secluded areas, open areas for friends and families to gather, places for music and recreation. What struck me most was its contribution to the livability of Vancouver, and how deeply it is loved and frequented by its citizens.
I challenged our design team to make every element, from walkway surfaces to signage to architectural features, something that would “delight and surprise” every person who visited The Bay. Including restrooms! All design elements are intended to be extraordinary. Why? Because that is what our community deserves. And this is the standard I expect.”
What excites you about The Bay Park design/plan, process, and team? What is your favorite and most rewarding part of the work?
“Being part of a community team has been so rewarding to me. Fighting for a cause of such importance benefitting generations to come is something new to me. Partnering in a groundswell that has community-wide implications and appeal for all is just plain joyful. And observing the talent of each team member? Inspiring and personally invigorating. Serving a community movement and effort with such a long-lasting positive impact and having seen hundreds of faces of citizens who share our passion at hearings and neighborhood meetings, is the best way I can spend my energy and time.”