The ‘Purple Cow’ and bayfront were cool placees to go as a boy growing up in Sarasota. They still are. But they can be so much more.
Born and raised in Sarasota, I remember my interaction with the bayfront as somewhat limited. I recall in elementary and middle school going to what we called the “Purple Cow” for plays and performances.
I remember, too, a couple of summers when I went to the Community Center for summer recreation, which included visits to the bayfront. I was left always feeling these outings were cool.
After graduating from Duke University and the University of Florida Levin College of Law, I was blessed with the opportunity to come back to Sarasota. For the past 23 years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit that same bayfront area as an adult and now realize it is so much more than just plays at the “Purple Cow” or a cool place for kids to go for summer recreation.
It is still a place that offers many unique and exciting outdoor activities, artistic experiences and educational opportunities. Yet I know it can be so much more.
Unfortunately, what I also notice now during many trips to the bayfront is that typically it is a narrow segment of our community that benefits from what this wonderful bayfront location has to offer. Whether because of geographic limitations, economic barriers or just perceived restrictions, all of our fellow Sarasotans do not enjoy this benefit.
That’s one of the reasons it’s important for me to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime process to transform not just the physical landscape of the bayfront, but more importantly, the social and cultural landscape of what we now call the Bay Park.
This project was a perfect opportunity for me to support an effort that transforms an under-performing site to a blue and green oasis that will be used for recreation, education, relaxation, civic engagement and sharing meals and libations for all Sarasotans.
Over the past five years, various iterations of what is now the Bay Park Conservancy have reached out to all of Sarasota — all races, genders, ages and socio-economic backgrounds — to define what that oasis looks like to make sure our future Bay Park provides memorable life-changing opportunities for us all.
Sure, we can nitpick to find issues with anything if we procrastinate long enough and talk it to death. But this plan — a partnership agreement between the city and the conservancy — is ready. And it is ready RIGHT NOW.
The Bay Park Master Plan has been thoroughly vetted. Sarasotans of all races, ages and socio-economic backgrounds are ready for something new and exciting, and the time couldn’t be better to share the wonderful gem we have right here in front of us.
Less than a week from the final City Commission vote on the final part of this dream actually happening — approving the partnership agreement — my hope is that we finally can move forward and implement this dream so the entire Sarasota Community can begin to enjoy the many wonderful activities and experiences planned for the Bay Park.
I am especially excited for my kids to be able to enjoy the new and exciting activities and experiences this awesome plan has to offer. They will see the Bay Park as more than just a cool place to go for plays as a student or a place for summer recreation or as a place for people who look a certain way or are a certain age. They will see it as a place where the entire community can celebrate and thrive together.
E. Keith DuBose practices law at the Sarasota firm of Matthews Eastmoore and is a member of the Bay Park Conservancy Board of Directors.