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Bay Park Mangrove Bayou Groundbreaking Event: Speakers’ Remarks

The Bay Sarasota

Bay Park Mangrove Bayou Groundbreaking Event: Speakers’ Remarks

Bay Park Mangrove Bayou Groundbreaking Event: Speakers’ Remarks

January 31, 2020

AG Lafley

We have come a long way together.

From the beginning, we shared a vision to transform a large government owned tract of land that is mostly parking lot into a beautiful public park on the Bay…an iconic park…a signature park for Sarasota that will be open, accessible, free and welcoming to the full and rich diversity of our entire community…and to visitors.

Together, we have created and operated as a partnership… between the broad community who led this initiative, local city and county government whose support for this initiative and whose resources are critical to its accomplishment, and a succession of citizen volunteer organizations who stepped forward at each stage along the way… The Bayfront 2020 coalition who began the dialogue with our community and gave us an aspirational vision and guiding principles; the SBPO planning board who recommended a master plan for the entire site and for the first 10-acre phase, a financial strategy and plan, and a strong governance way forward; and the bay park conservancy that forged a long-term partnership agreement with the city, obtained approval to the implementation plan for the first phase, submitted a site plan for the first phase that is working its way through the development review committee process on its way to the planning board and city commission for ultimate approval.

The BPC has also worked hand in hand with the city and county commissions and staffs on tax increment financing to help fund not only the park but also a new performing arts center in the park. The BPC is the design and planning, development, managing and operating partner of the City.

From the beginning, we have worked from clear guiding principles on a plan to design, develop and eventually operate a world class waterfront park.

The process has been open and transparent… we have engaged and dialogued with well over 50,000 individuals in literally hundreds of meetings and will continue to do so.

4,000 follow the bay on Facebook, 4,000 receive our weekly email, 5,000 visit our website at least once every month, and 5,000 viewed informative videos in the past 3 months. Our “ask the bay” feature gives the community an online opportunity to ask questions and give us feedback in real time.

While we are only three full-time, and one part-time staff at BPC, we have hired a capable and experienced team of people to do the design and plan, development and construction, communications and marketing and more…and of course we have been helped by volunteers who give considerable energy and time to the project.

Principles. Plan. Process. People. And step by step progress has brought us to where we are today.

Together, much has been accomplished:

We have conserved 53 acres of the most valuable city owned land for public use as a park.

We have begun to preserve, restore, enhance and sustain this precious natural environment…the bay, the shoreline, the fountain garden at…, the mangrove bayou… and as we develop the park we will replace surface parking with green space and parkland.

We are potentially 6 months away from getting the go ahead to begin development of the first phase…. With a stunning Sunset Boardwalk that circles out over Sarasota Bay and provides broad public access with views of the Ringling Bridge, the Keys and the gorgeous sunsets unique to our area, with lawns that stretch east from the shoreline… a common ground, a gathering and inclusive place that brings our community together, and ample seating, shaded areas, and other necessary amenities.

We are on track to fund both the capital and operating costs of the first phase from a combination of private and public sources.

All of this progress over the last five years takes resources…people and money.

As we celebrate the groundbreaking for the walkway around the mangrove bayou, we also celebrate visionaries and supporters who stepped forward early in the planning phase, and again in the development phase to help turn imagined possibilities into reality.  
I will personally never forget my first meeting with Chuck and Margie Barancik. We had barely formed as a planning board when I was introduced to them. I was surprised when they invited a stranger into their home to tell them a little bit about the initiative.

An hour later, after Chuck had grilled me about the bay project and what I had learned from nearly a decade of Center City development including park development in Cincinnati…he thanked me and sent me on my way.

The next thing I heard…just a short time later…the Barancik foundation had decided to make a leader ship gift to the planning effort. Then again, soon after the park conservancy had formed, before we had a partnership agreement or approval of the implementation plan, I got a call from the Barancik Foundation about Chuck and Margie’s potential interest in environmental restoration and enhancement of the mangrove Bayou. After their due diligence, they stepped forward and made an incredibly generous gift of nearly $1MM to capital and endowment.

In addition to obvious appreciation of their generosity and leader ship, I have been personally inspired by their philanthropic example. As a result, I have increased my personal commitment to the bay…to give even more of my energy, time and resources.

Now, it is my pleasure to introduce Rebecca Barancik.

Rebecca Barancik

This is my first Foundation-related appearance without Margie & Chuck. Lucky for me, they instilled so much faith in me and shared so much of their value system with me, that I feel confident I can represent them well today and moving forward.

Coming here to this groundbreaking ceremony for the Mangrove Bayou Walkway seems like such a fitting first event in this new era of carrying on Margie & Chuck’s legacy without them. When we think of all of the environmental and educational benefits Sarasota will get from this project, it is absolutely in line with the kind of work we at the Barancik Foundation aspire to support. The Bay’s restoration efforts will bring more people from more walks of life to this beautiful spot and we hope they will then
be inspired to continue to preserve other nature sites around them. Today’s groundbreaking ceremony could not have come to fruition without the collaboration of so many Sarasota organizations, which is exactly what we love to see. It is what makes this project about the sustainability of our earth a financially sustainable project as well.

We are all familiar with the amazing environmental services mangroves offer and look forward to watching the restoration of this mangrove where we stand today. Mangroves keep the shorelines from eroding, provide habitat for marine life and birds, as well as other critters we cannot see, or, like the mangrove crab, we may not want to see. They filter water, they provide nutrients to fisheries, and they keep a lot of our runoff from heading into the Bay. And, yet, they are not showy like many of the other trees and plants we see around here. They don’t have extravagant flowers like a royal poinciana; they are not tall and majestic like our Live Oaks; mangroves don’t make a beautiful rustling sound in the wind that reminds us transplants of vacation like our palm trees do.

I might compare their modesty, in spite of their great value, to my beloved in-laws, Margie and Chuck. And so, I thank the Board and staff of the Bay, and, in particular, AG Laffley, for including the Barancik Foundation in its journey to help protect this humble-looking but critical habitat. It is a beautiful way for us to honor Margie and Chuck’s legacy and we are honored to be a part of today’s ceremony.

Congressman Vern Buchanan

Thank you Veronica

I also thank the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation for their generous gift – one of many to this region — and one that will be part of their lasting legacy.

I am sure they are smiling down on us today.

In this region, we are truly blessed with a beautiful environment, world-class cultural offerings, and generous residents who give time and talent to help improve our quality of life.

The Sarasota Bay front, with all its beauty, is an underutilized asset.

I applaud the effort to help the Bay reach its full potential as a local and tourist destination and I commend the team for working with the community to build a consensus on the best use of the property.

I look forward to the cultural and economic impact of this project.

I congratulate you for breaking ground today on the Mangrove Bayou Walkway.

This restoration and preservation project is another step forward in the effort to maximize the potential of this property.

The walkway will be enjoyed for years to come.

I applaud the public – private partnership that has made this project possible.

I thank you for the opportunity to be part of today’s event

And I look forward to further developments.

Mayor Jennifer Ahearn-Koch

Good Morning and Thank you for inviting me here on this special day to celebrate the groundbreaking for The Bay’s Mangrove Bayou Restoration and Walkway Project.

I wanted to thank Mr. Waddill because I was recently fortunate enough to have a very detailed “site visit” and tour. I appreciate you having taken the time to share all the interesting, intricate, and challenging details of this project. I learned a lot about this specific area’s landscape, and my favorite discovery was that of a fantastic handmade sign, that I hope can be restored and remain in the park.

An American philosopher, visionary, inventor, and one of the greatest minds of our time – Buckminster Fuller – once said “The best way to predict the future, is to design it.”

Applying that quote to our Mangrove Bayou Restoration and Walkway Project, we are essentially – designing nature.

We know we must preserve trees, protect our shoreline, and make the maximum effort to treat stormwater as it enters our Bay and our Gulf.

Water quality and quantity are one of our City – and our State’s – top priorities as our quality-of-life and our economy depend on a healthy environment, a healthy Bay, and the healthy Gulf of Mexico.

We should never gamble with it and we should never lose focus on this reality.

Fortunately, this project’s stormwater treatment improvements are a giant step in the right direction. From the shoreline restoration and stabilization to the dredging of the waterway, to the bioswales and baffle boxes, this Mangrove Bayou Restoration and Walkway Project is designed to give our City the future we need, focusing not only on the environmental aspects of our water quality but also on – community.

This project is a valuable opportunity to connect our neighborhoods – north to south, east to west – and to educate our children on the importance of taking the necessary steps in being good stewards of our planet, including our waterways.

And, it starts right here. This Mangrove Bayou Restoration and Walkway Project is the future our community wants: cleaner water, more trees, and access to a healthy Bay. And, so, I hope it can be said, that we designed the future we wanted.

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