Partnership is at the heart of The Bay, the community-led initiative continuing to transform 53 acres of city-owned land along Sarasota’s bayfront into a world-class public park. From its origins in the Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 initiative, which brought citizens and leaders together to create the guiding principles for this shared vision, to the conceptualization, formation, and efforts of the Bay Park Conservancy that is working to bring that vision to life, The Bay has depended on broad collaboration to ensure the creation of a community resource that is open, accessible, free, and welcoming to all.

That spirit of collaboration is affirmed by the private sector helping to strengthen The Bay’s progress, including donors from all walks of life and each of our five charitable foundations. Like those private donors, each of our respective foundations is driven by a distinct philanthropic mission and focus — all of which aspire to help Sarasota thrive. Among the myriad ways we can put those resources toward that goal, The Bay is unique in its emphasis on creating diverse opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. That diversity, along with the community’s years of stalwart support for The Bay’s evolution, is reflected in our unique investments into the Bay Park Conservancy’s work.

The Bay Park Conservancy has applied that same commitment to collaboration while working in lockstep with our city government. Following its inception in 2019, the Bay Park Conservancy took the unique step of developing and applying a partnership agreement to guide its work with city staff and elected officials. Since then, the Bay Park Conservancy has gone above and beyond the expectations laid out in that agreement, proving itself a trusted, responsible steward of the city’s land and resources. The growing list of amenities that people can enjoy today at The Bay — including its revitalized Mangrove Bayou, recurring wellness activities, and the upcoming Paddle Launch — is a testament to the effectiveness of the Bay Park Conservancy’s partnership with our local government.

The Bay’s latest milestone comes on Nov. 15, when the City Commission will have the opportunity to vote on measures that will simplify and streamline its process for working with its partners at the Bay Park Conservancy. This evolution of the partnership agreement would bring our community closer to achieving its vision for The Bay, shifting its completion date up by 5-7 years and saving tens of millions of dollars in the process — all of which would be put toward new activations and activities for our community to enjoy at The Bay.

Our foundations’ contributions to The Bay affirm our community’s trust in the Bay Park Conservancy’s exceptional leadership that continues to turn this long-held dream into a reality that generations of Sarasota residents will experience. We encourage our city’s leadership to join the community in affirming the Bay Park Conservancy’s demonstrated collaborative excellence with a positive vote.

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