Sunday, April 21, 2019

Manatee-Sarasota Sierra Club opposes Payne Park Giveaway

Dear Commissioners,

The Sarasota Orchestra cites “global warming” as their reason to quit participation in the future $200 million Bayfront project. Their new vision proposes developing a massive 2,500-seat concert hall at Payne Park—eliminating seven (7) acres of open public green space, a wildlife-filled lake and 2 ponds, and numerous shade trees.

It is ironic that orchestra’s vision to destroy and pave over an existing healthy urban ecosystem at Payne Park will actually contribute to “global warming.”
 
The principle vision of the City of Sarasota Parks + Connectivity Master Plan refers to Payne Park as a “signature park” and states:

  • “The public is a stake holder in their community park.” 
  • “To be successful parks must provide users the opportunity to experience and enjoy nature.” 
  • “Built elements should respect the landscape and complement the natural environment.”   
  • “Sarasota’s physical environment encompasses a variety of individual ecosystems that contribute to the area’s overall quality of life. These ecosystems not only improve air and water quality,. . .  but also serve as habitats for threatened and endangered species.” 

“The preservation of these areas is critical to the City of Sarasota’s future. Efforts to protect habitats, flora, and fauna should include, but not be limited to, functional and native landscaping, reduced impervious surfaces, minimization of area disturbance, and public education.”

“ To be successful parks must provide users the opportunity to experience and enjoy nature.”

The Sierra Club puts high value on accessible public open space, parks, open-air recreational activities, and outdoor community gathering places with natural ecosystems that are accessible to all citizens regardless of age, income or location, as laid out in the city parks connectivity plan. You don’t need an expensive ticket to experience the joys of Payne Park. 

Nothing in the Sarasota City park plan, nor the recorded park deed stipulations,  sets forth bestowing seven (7) acres of public park green space to be bulldozed and covered in concrete!  In fact, just the polar opposite. So why on earth is the city wasting tax payer dollars even entertaining the orchestra’s contradictory vision?

The City of Sarasota has an obligation to respect their citizens’ park plan and respect the Payne family’s gift to preserve the community open space of Payne Park and must cease negotiating with Sarasota Orchestra to dismantle it.

Gayle Reynolds
Co-Chair, Conservation Committee
Manatee-Sarasota Sierra Club

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