Latest Iteration of The Bay Going to City Commissioners

Todays News

More boating access? Planned restaurant space? As the Bay moves from conceptual renderings to realized amenity, planners continue to evolve and refine a master plan for the site. Sarasota City Commissioners tonight are expected to discuss and approve a number of changes to the Bay Park Master Plan and offer a clearer glimpse of the regional park’s future.

The Bay Park Conservancy Board, the nonprofit contracted to manifest and manage the park, already unanimously approved an updated master plan on Oct. 17. Those proposed changes now will land before elected city officials. Updates include more overflow parking, an extension for the Canal District boat ramp and more refined plans for overwater structures, as well as a pedestrian and fishing pier. The new plan also notably seeks to preserve certain existing amenities on site, most notably Holley Hall in the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center.

Vice Mayor Jennifer Ahearn-Koch said she expects significant conversation around the update, and commissioners will discuss ways to create a positive asset while addressing community concerns.

“Every step of the way has been like that,” she said. “It should be. It has been. I expect there to be a robust conversation.”

She personally would like to know more details about facilities now planned on the site, some of which surprised her.

A presentation scheduled for discussion tonight notes at some community meetings, excitement was voiced for a restaurant, or group of restaurants, overlooking the Bay.

The most notable change on new renderings surrounds the boat docks, which now will abut three waterfront restaurants covering 4,000 to 5,000 square feet a piece. The plan also adds two boat docks, a retail kiosk and space for a water taxi station.

Some renderings seem to indicate less pronunciation of a horseshoe design to pedestrian features at the Bayfront, and community forum notes suggest that raised some alarm with residents. But there is still a walkway from one side of the docks over a pedestrian bridge, then through a northwestern corner of the park, passing a planned performing arts hall and onto a walkway that extends past the shoreline.

Public input notes neighborhood residents have sought a pedestrian overpass to cross Tamiami Trail, and many want better connectivity between The Bay and the Rosemary District as well.

The Bay Park Conservancy has promised to absorb all the community input and continue to incorporate it into planning and the ultimately development taking place on the site.

Ahearn-Koch said she wants to know about parking availability to meet the expected visitor demand. “We’re taking away a parking lot to create a park, but you still have to have a place to park,” she said, noting The Bay covers land that for years served as surface parking for the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

The City Commission meeting notably comes weeks after the Conservancy announced A.G. Lafley’s return as CEO. He promised to keep the organization true to the mission it held since its inception.

“I fully expect we will continue delighting park guests who visit the current park; make The Bay Park Conservancy sustainable in every way – financially, operationally and environmentally; and build ‘more park for all’ with Phase 2 and beyond,” Lafley said in an October statement.

« View The Monday Nov 20, 2023 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Talks Break Down Over Warm Mineral Springs

Talks Break Down Over Warm Mineral Springs

Jacob Ogles | Feb 5, 2024

Neighborhood Connections Manager Honored for Community Commitment

Neighborhood Connections Manager Honored for Community Commitment

Feb 5, 2024

McFarland to Minors: Delete Your Account

McFarland to Minors: Delete Your Account

Jacob Ogles | Jan 8, 2024

Manatee County to Celebrate Grand Opening of Lakewood Ranch Library

Manatee County to Celebrate Grand Opening of Lakewood Ranch Library

Jan 8, 2024