Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bayfront 20:20 Set to Formulate Plan | City Should Welcome Privately Funded Effort

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bayfront 20:20 Set to Formulate Plan | City Should Welcome Privately Funded Effort

Article excerpt


Since early 2014, Bayfront 20:20 has focused on the underlying principles for the creation of a spectacular, sustainable public space on 42 waterfront acres that include the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the Sarasota Orchestra headquarters and an array of civic buildings and spaces.

The local, citizen-driven movement made haste slowly, investing countless hours in community engagement, collaboration with government, and communications with institutions that have a stake in the city-owned property on Sarasota Bay. Using a deliberate approach and funded with private-sector donations, Bayfront 20:20 has made significant progress.

As result of hundreds of public meetings, there is substantial agreement that the community desires an "iconic public destination" that features family-friendly open space and accommodates some of the region's vital arts institutions. Among the other aspirations are to allow active and passive recreation, provide connections to other waterfront venues and maintain long-term financial sustainability.

The Sarasota City Commission appropriately agreed with those concepts and, in February, was briefed on the steps that would follow.

During Monday's commission meeting, there will be another briefing. It will highlight a four-stage process for moving toward the establishment, and possible implementation, of a specific strategy for the bayfront. The proposal calls for:

[broken bar] Creating a nonprofit board, with seven to nine members, that would oversee the management of a master-planning exercise. The 501 (c) (4) Sarasota BayFront Planning Organization would be financed with funds from the private sector. Its members would include, according to the proposal, "community leaders versed in major project development spanning the public and private sectors."

Prospective members have not been publicly identified; they will be named if the City Commission reacts favorably to the concept.

The planning organization would not be a government body but it would operate under Florida's open-government laws -- an important assurance of transparency. …

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