Celebration in Order for The Bay

Guest Correspondence

Photo courtesy GCCF.

Something wonderful is taking shape in our region that will beautify and unite Sarasota for generations to come.

The Bay—a sustainable public park and artistic hub of 53 acres of City-owned land along Sarasota Bay—is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring together Sarasota’s cultural heritage and natural assets for the enjoyment of all our citizens and visitors.

At the City of Sarasota Commission meeting on Nov. 15, city commissioners unanimously approved a revised partnership agreement between The Bay and the City that will streamline the approval process to save money and speed completion of the park. We couldn’t be more pleased with this vote.

Our support for The Bay continues as strong as ever. We are grateful that the City will continue to support forward movement of this project. We believe The Bay dreams are coming true. This project is a model for how philanthropy can help organize and power a community dream into a real-world result.

In a recent op-ed in the Herald-Tribune, five philanthropic leaders with five foundations (Teri A Hansen, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation; Roxie Jerde, Community Foundation of Sarasota County; myself, Gulf Coast Community Foundation; Debra Jacobs, The Patterson Foundation; and Carol Butera, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation), penned our full support for this partnership agreement. Our organizations hold many different missions; we steward the legacies of different benefactors, both living and deceased; and we may use different strategies to achieve our respective priorities. But as charitable foundations that call Sarasota home, we understand the values and purpose that go toward building a thriving community. So as our organizations work together collaboratively on many important and inspirational community initiatives, there is a unique and special way that we come together to support The Bay.

The revised partnership agreement will eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and duplication of permitting. The result? A more efficient process that could cut years off the processing time for The Bay and save upwards of tens of millions of dollars in costs. The savings comes in the form of being able to complete construction sooner and not having time, money or value lost. The money saved can now be used for additional environmental projects that will improve the water quality and wildlife habitat in Sarasota Bay. The sooner this happens, the sooner The Bay can be completed and a real vision for all to enjoy.

Join us in celebrating this milestone for The Bay, our region, and generations of citizens and visitors to come.

Mark Pritchett is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Photo courtesy GCCF.

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