The Sarasota Bay

Help Create a Bayfront Vision

Posted on March 29, 2018

Photography Credit:  Courtesy atLarge

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Guest Columnist Bill Waddill, managing director of the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization, and originally published by the Herald-Tribune on March 25, 2018.

The future of our 53-acre Sarasota Bayfront project, known as The Bay, will be based upon an inclusive, diverse and transparent planning process led by a skilled design team, many of the community’s leading minds, and you, the residents of this beautiful community perched along the Gulf of Mexico.

Last month, our consultant, Sasaki Associates, collected nearly 3,500 live and online survey responses from our community, envisioning the future of The Bay.

Best practices in community engagement, which include delving into the results of these responses, will provide the direction to master-plan this iconic destination for all members of our community.

Our team has committed to deliver a master plan consistent with our Guiding Principles:

  • Aspiration — an iconic, public destination that welcomes the diversity of Sarasota, enhances our status as a cultural capital, is multigenerational and broad-based.
  • Cultural Legacy — the identity as a cultural, art and educational destination will be strengthened.
  • Bayfront/Natural Assets — welcoming, safe, publicly accessible, with enhanced views.
  • Activation — outdoor cultural, recreational and education programming.
  • Connectivity — greatly improved and safe connectivity for all means of transportation.
  • Sustainability — ecological, economic and financial sustainability through continuous cooperation among the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Our goal is to provide a plan that is fiscally feasible, operationally viable, and environmentally sustainable.

Since early December, the Sasaki team has led our engagement process with a series of workshops, online surveys and presentations, the results of which will be presented in mid-April.

Additionally, Sasaki will unveil three conceptual design alternatives, based on this input and its world-renowned planning experience, designed to facilitate a community conversation about the exciting possibilities at The Bay.

I’m excited to participate in delivering the Sasaki team’s interpretation of what they’ve heard and envision as presented in these three unique, creative alternatives.

These presentations to the community will be held April 16-19 through a series of public open houses. I’m convinced they will generate a very lively and exciting community conversation and feedback.

Sasaki will gather the community’s input and formulate one final plan, which will be presented to the community in early summer.

Along with these conceptual design exercises, an experienced group of professionals is focusing on implementation. HR&A Advisors and Kathy Blaha Consulting will produce a recommended financial plan and operating structure that will allow for phased implementation of the final community vision.

These economic and financial strategies are fundamental to the long-term success and sustainability of The Bay plan and are critical to realize the vision we create together through this process. A sustainable future for the Bayfront will require continuous collaboration among the design team, our community and the city of Sarasota.

We are far from firm on any particular design or concept. Our community’s continued involvement in feedback is more important now than ever. I invite interested people to refer to our website, thebaysarasota.org, to learn the dates and times of our April workshop and to make plans to attend.

Our motto has been “Imagine the possibilities,” and this is the perfect time to do so. We invite the community to continue to be involved in follow-up meetings in early summer.

The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization and the talented Sasaki team have created a process of excellence in many ways, particularly in citizen outreach. We feel these efforts will produce a design that reflects not only the aspirations of our citizens but the inherent aspirations of this unique site.

Please share your voice in the next few weeks, and stay engaged all the way to a viable, feasible and extraordinary reimagining of Sarasota’s most inspiring location.


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