Phase 1 of The Bay Park will be built in stages over the next two to three years. Key features of Phase 1 include the Fountain Garden, Mangrove Bayou, Living Shoreline, Sunset Pedestrian Boardwalk, and The Lawns.
The historic Fountain Garden was recently restored and reopened to the public in January 2020. Exotic vegetation was replaced with Florida-friendly plants and a no-mow/no-fertilizer buffer was created around the pond to reduce stormwater run-off. In addition, the pond’s historic fountain was restored, enabling aeration and improved water quality. The Fountain Garden is open daily and features various spots for reading, nature watching, or relaxation.
The Mangrove Bayou, features a half-mile walkway that is accessible for walkers, runners, and bikers. This path includes a Kayak Launch, Hammock Grove, and outdoor “Reading Room” with beautiful views into the bayou. Other environmental enhancements have restored the ecology of the Mangrove Bayou, with the removal of invasive plant species, mangrove windowing, and new stormwater treatment. The Mangrove Bayou Walkway is open as of April 2021.
The Bay Park will feature a living, resilient shoreline. In June 2019, a unique shoreline stabilization solution was installed at the end of Boulevard of the Arts to restore the existing shoreline and replace a crumbling seawall. Further shoreline refurbishment and protections will be made to this area, in conjunction with the building of the Sunset Pedestrian Boardwalk, to ensure environmental sustainability.
The Sunset Pedestrian Boardwalk will create a unique, circular walkway over the water that gives visitors the opportunity to engage with Sarasota Bay, the Living Shoreline and Mangrove Bayou in an intimate and respectful way. The boardwalk is for pedestrians only; no fishing or boat docking/tie-ups will be permitted. This part of the project is anticipated to begin in Spring/Summer 2022, with completion in 2023.
The Lawns, a 1.5-acre section of land located between the Mangrove Bayou and Boulevard of the Arts, will act as a flexible canvas within the park. With an estimated completion of spring 2022, The Lawns will be used for a wide range of fitness and health, arts, cultural, educational, recreational, and social activities.