Meet the Team: Kelley Klepper, Vice President at Kimley-Horn
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.
Kelley, a local Sarasotan, joined the planning and design team as the Lead Planner for the entitlement process for Phase 1 of The Bay. Kimley-Horn, a planning, engineering and design consulting firm, has been responsible for coordinating The Bay’s development approvals for the Mangrove Walk and Phase 1 Site Plan, which Kelley has been integrally involved. Additionally, Kelley and the firm have been responsible for other local coordination elements including agency permitting, landscape architecture and structural engineering. We interviewed Kelley to learn a bit more about his background, his work on regional planning projects throughout Florida and what excites him about the future of The Bay.
Can you share a bit more about your background, experience and personal story?
“For the last 15 years, I have worked at Kimley-Horn providing land use planning, development, and redevelopment services to both private sector and public sector clients. My 28 years of experience includes serving as the Planning Director/Director of Development Services for the City of Georgetown, Kentucky. I have a master’s degree in Geography/Urban & Regional Planning, am a certified land use planner, and I sit on a variety of local and state boards including the Florida Redevelopment Association.
My background includes significant experience in comprehensive planning, zoning, community redevelopment, small area plans/land use studies, community assessments, consensus building and community outreach, and the development of land use/zoning codes including form-based codes. As a native of northeast Tennessee, I have worked in or provided planning related services to communities in Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. My work has been recognized by the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association and the Florida Planning and Zoning Association. I have also had the pleasure of being a guest speaker at local, regional, state, and national conferences where I have addressed a variety of issues related to land use and development/redevelopment.”
What is your favorite park and your contribution or role in development? What are some important design elements in The Bay or other projects?
“One of my favorite parks is from back home with the Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground due to its setting, the incorporation of the natural environment into the overall park, the diversity of elements and more importantly, the accessibility for all.
An important design element to me, related to The Bay, is the circular boardwalk that connects the southern and central pieces of the project because it provides interactions along the way and sets itself apart as a ‘living classroom.’ Users get the experience of interacting with Sarasota Bay and the environmental elements that are not currently visible or accessible there today. The ability to enjoy a continuous walk and an incredible southwest Florida sunset all within the downtown setting is exciting.”
What excites you about The Bay Park design/plan, process, and team? What is your favorite and most rewarding part of the work?
“What excites me about The Bay Park is that it is a ‘once in a lifetime’ project that is truly taking a broad-based holistic vision and turning it into a ribbon cutting. The Bay is a transformational project that most communities never get to experience and will pay dividends for generations to come. There are quite a few aspects that are out-of-the-box and exceed the conventional thought process, all of which will make The Bay not only a community focal point for Sarasota and Manatee counties, but also for Southwest Florida as a whole.
When completed, The Bay will be a model of public outreach and community partnership, about thinking of what could be and turning that into a reality–a model we are already seeing other communities trying to emulate. The vision and the plan take what was underutilized and disconnected from the rest of the community and creates a central community focal point connected to other areas of the City. Being able to be part of this project from its initial visioning has given me a whole different perspective of the intricacies that The Bay will bring together in one setting.”