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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 4, 2021 1 year ago

Bayfront park project set for public hearing

The City Commission is holding a special meeting to discuss a site plan for phase one of The Bay Sarasota, which includes a boardwalk near the terminus of Boulevard of the Arts.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

The Bay Sarasota leadership will appear in front of the City Commission on Monday seeking approval of a site plan for a 10-acre park built on city-owned downtown waterfront land.

The commission is scheduled to review applications associated with the first phase of The Bay Sarasota project, an initiative that intends to eventually redevelop more than 50 acres of city property near Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The city is working in partnership with The Bay Park Conservancy, an independent group formed to implement and manage the bayfront master plan the city adopted in 2017.

Plans for the initial phase, primarily located north of Boulevard of the Arts and south of Van Wezel, include a lawn, a circular boardwalk above the water, a food and beverage pavilion, and a mangrove bayou. In addition to site plan approval, The Bay Park Conservancy is also requesting a major conditional use permit and government-zone waiver to facilitate the boardwalk and add amenities, such as lighting.

The proposal has drawn opposition from nearby residents, who have raised concerns about the scale of the boardwalk, traffic and plans for events at the park.

Bill Waddill, The Bay’s chief implementation officer, said the group used input from years of community meetings to guide the phase one design. Waddill said the boardwalk and waterfront access were among the top priorities in public surveys.

“We believe it’s really important to reach out to all of our community to make sure we’re welcoming and inviting to all,” Waddill said.

Waddill said The Bay hoped to open the upland areas around this time next year, with the boardwalk taking an additional year.


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