Bay Consultants to Meet with Young Professionals



As officials develop a plan for Sarasota’s waterfront cultural district, they want young people working in the region to help shape the final vision. The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization will host an event today at The Francis and have invited young professionals to voice their own thoughts on what should happen with 42 acres of publicly owned land overlooking Sarasota Bay.

“Our objective is to reach out to as many people as we possible can to get input,” says Bill Waddill, managing director for the SBPO. “This project, if the master plan is approved and we move forward toward implementing it, this ultimately is a legacy project for Sarasota. It’s for everyone of all ages and every demographic. We want to reach out and get everyone’s input.”

The Young Professionals Group spread word of the meeting last week. Mimi Cirbusova, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s YPG coordinator, says it’s critical for this demographic to stay involved in the planning process. “This is not just being developed for this generation but the next generation and the next,” she said. “Having young professionals as a voice in this initiative is critical, because we will enjoy it for a really long time.” The engagement in this civic process will also get a generation of professionals invested in the future of the area, she says, making it more likely they continue to develop their careers on the Gulf Coast.

And while YPG remains among the list of stakeholder groups that worked with the Bayfront 20:20 effort to develop guiding principled for the waterfront, Waddill says young professionals often remain underrepresented in civic planning efforts like that for The Bay. “There are certainly groups that are not typically as engaged in this type of process, and one of them is young professionals,” he says. “They are in a stage of life where they are busy, they have a lot going on.” The event today from 6-7:30pm, shortly after most professionals wrap-up their work day. While there will be a short presentation at the event, it’s planned as “Happy Hour”-style meet-and-greet mostly intended to make attendees feel conformable with the major players in the process, Waddill says.

The meeting has also been billed as a chance to meet with A.G. Lafley, a former Proctor & Gamble CEO now chairing the SBPO. And it’s an opportunity for people to meet with Waddill, who last week started as managing director, and with representatives of Sasaki, a Boston-based firm which will translate inout and data gathered on the site into a draft master plan to be considered by Sarasota City Commissioners.

The meeting will be one of several held over the next couple months with a variety of stakeholders, says Waddill, who previously worked at Kimley-Horn on such public assets as the Bradenton Riverwalk and recent improvements to Siesta Key Beach Park. And while he knows people are anxious to start seeing designs for the long-anticipated revisiting of The Bay, it’s still critically important to continue gathering input.

Photo courtesy SBPO

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