How do you get a rural community to embrace economic development? The promise of a major public park seems to have sweetened the deal in Parrish. Evan Guido, a Lakewood Ranch financial advisor and longtime Parrishian, has worked closely with the town’s Rural Development Committee on plans for Parrish Central Park, a 74-acre swath of land that could sit between commercial redevelopment on U.S. 301 and residents in a walking village. “This is a way to turn this land into a safe, comfortable environment,” Guido says. The property today holds a classification as a “passive park,” but remains so wild it’s unusable for anything but a preserve. Neighbors and town officials, though, have started a planning process with Kimley-Horn and Associates to convert the land into a public asset with a bandshell, bike trails, fitness path and soft-floor playground. It’s helped create some community buy-in for an overlay district in the community, which sets between Tampa Bay and Bradenton-Palmetto and won’t be immune to growth forever. Guido says getting proactive about planning now guarantees everybody will benefit when commercial growth comes. “The dream is this helps interconnect the community and we end with something like Gillespie Park in Sarasota,” he says. “The park is a big win for the entire community.”

PHOTO BY WYATT KOSTYGAN. EVAN GUIDO RENDERS THE FUTURE WITH A PARK IN PARRISH.