Local Hiring Part Of Future For The Bay

Todays News


Special consideration will be given to hire local contractors for work on The Bay. A commitment to hire local and minority-owned businesses has been added to a contract for a permanent conservancy that will manage the public venue.

Bill Waddill, managing director for The Bay, says the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization has worked to include those requirements and other provisions at the request of Sarasota City Commissioners.

“We’ve had good discussions with the city,” he says. “Ultimately, we want something adopted that will be good policy.”

A master plan is in place and construction on the first phase for The Bay will start up next year. Negotiations over the structure of the conservancy, an independent entity that will manage and raise financial support for the facility, has taken longer than expected, but officials expect a contract to come together soon.

“Really, we are close,” Waddill says.

City Commissioner Jennifer Ahearn-Koch says it’s been important to city leadership to iron all details out in advance. The fact that a conservancy will exist has always been the plan, and continues to be the goal of talks.

“It’s all about us working and communicating together to make sure we do get it right from the start,” she says.

To that end, city officials have studied structures for conservancies all around the country. At the same time, experts suggest there is no optimal template to apply to every major public facility.

The Bay will include a major public park but also new performance venues overlooking Sarasota Bay. That brings structural issues different than either a foundation that supports a venue or a nonprofit managing a public park.

One issue important to Ahearn-Koch, she says, is that contract terms be set up that make clear the vast majority of the park remains accessible to the public. An early draft just promised a majority of the land. “So a majority means 50.1 percent, even though I think the meaning is 90 percent,” she says. “But words have meanings. Lawsuits are had over words.” It’s best to nail down a commitment to keep open a larger percent of the property, she says.

It’s details like that which led to multiple delays in a vote on a contract. Waddill hopes to secure city commission approval on April 15.

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