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Sarasota Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 6 years ago

Bayfront group continues to develop vision

by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

As it works on a vision for the future of the city’s waterfront, Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 is attempting to hone in on community-backed core values to help facilitate the development of that land.

A public forum, held Thursday night at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, served as an opportunity to edit and refine the series of guiding principles for the bayfront originally presented at two workshops last month. After incorporating the feedback given at October’s meetings, those principles are:

+ Aspiration: Sarasota’s bayfront should be an iconic, public destination that welcomes the diversity of the Sarasota region and builds on two of our city’s great strengths — our cultural institutions and our natural environment on Sarasota Bay.

+ Cultural Heritage: The bayfront’s identity as a cultural destination should be strengthened, anchored by some of the region’s most important institutions and rooted in Sarasota’s diverse cultural legacy.

+ Bayfront/Natural Assets: Welcoming, attractive, publicly accessible, safe and family-friendly open space and view corridors along the bayfront should be developed and preserved for future generations.

+ Activation: Aquatic and onshore recreational programming, outdoor cultural programming, urban amenities, plentiful shade, adequate lighting and alternatives to surface parking should support the active usage of the bayfront throughout the day and evening and in all seasons.

+ Connectivity: Greatly improved connectivity between the bayfront, adjacent neighborhoods and the wider region is necessary to achieve our aspirations. Improved connectivity should be accomplished via safe, convenient pedestrian, bicycle and water transit connections to the north, south, east and across the bay. Convenient automobile access to the site should be accommodated with the smallest practicable footprint.

+ Sustainability: Ecological, economic and financial sustainability are fundamental to the long-term success of Sarasota’s bayfront. Sustainability is the foundation upon which our aspirations are built.

During the meeting, consultant Candace Damon went through each individual principle, presenting questions to spur discussion on how they could be refined and offering attendees the opportunity to voice their feedback.

Bayfront 20:20 leader Michael Klauber said the group would continue to work on gathering broad community input and refining the principles, which are designed to help guide the development of 42 acres of city-owned bayfront land near the Van Wezel. Bayfront 20:20 is scheduled to provide the City Commission with an update on its work in January.

During the public forum, moderated by Sarasota Herald-Tribune columnist Tom Tryon, Damon addressed a question regarding criticisms of a design-by-committee process for developing the bayfront. Damon agreed with those who believe such a process would be ineffective, and said the workshops were not held with the intent of producing a design for the bayfront.

Instead, she said, the group was working on producing a series of guidelines that would reflect the community’s wishes when the design process begins in earnest.

“This is not a committee that’s designing it,” Damon said. “This is a committee telling the designer what it wants.”

Contact David Conway at [email protected].

I'm David and I cover city government and neighborhood news for the Sarasota Observer. I graduated from the University of Missouri in 2012. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 360.

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