From Tom Walker:
Today at our regular 'first Thursday' meeting, Steve Scott, Sean Sellers of the Climate Justice Coalition and I shared our knowledge what's happening with the development of what's now called "The Bay" - that is, those 42 acres of city-owned land west of US 41, north of the Avenue of the Arts and up to and including Centennial Park and the boat ramp. The property includes the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, the abandoned G. Wiz building, the Sarasota Lawn Bowling Club, Municipal Auditorium, the Sarasota Orchestra building, Friends of the Sarasota County History Center, Art Center Sarasota, and the Garden Club, all bordered on the west by the bay.
The Sarasota Bay Planning Organization - sbpo.org - check out their website - recently selected Sasaki - see sasaki.com - a Boston firm, to come up with a plan for those 42 acres over the next seven months. (Whether or not to move, remodel, or tear down any of the buildings has not been decided.) Sasaki's website shows the wide variety of quality work they've done in the past - like Riverwalk in Chicago, and SBPO chose them recently from more that 30 applicants. The Sasaki team was in town this week for initial presentations - and listening - at the city commission, today's PINC (pincexperience.com) at the Opera House, the Coalition of CIty Neighborhood Associations (CCNA) meeting yesterday, and at other group events. Steve and I also attended the SBPO board meeting yesterday which is, by the way, always open to visitors and public comments. The Sasaki team will return in early February, at the end of April with several possible plans to discuss, at the end of May with their vision for the site and at the end of June to present the final plan. This work has already been paid for with 2.1 million dollars of private money - one-third foundation contributions and the rest from individuals. As I said, no decisions have been made to move, remodel or tear down any of the buildings I mentioned above.
To have your voice heard you should attend these meetings as they occur and/or leave comments and send email using sbpo.org, or, even better, at THEBAYSARASOTA.ORG, the new website to engage and inform the public about this project. Check out such features as "The Story So Far" and the FAQs. (SBPO is the current planning organization but the older organization, Bayfront 20:20, continues to exist as well. See sarasotabayfront2020.com.)