Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Brainstorming the Celery Fields area

Sarasota County has given residents six months to consider options for two of the three publicly-owned parcels at the Celery Fields.

The opportunity arose after a coalition of Home Owners Associations, the Fresh Start Initiative, expressed concern that negative impacts could potentially arise from earlier large industrial proposals (a 16-acre waste processing plant and a giant wholesale warehouse). Such industrial activity could seriously degrade this pristine ecosystem, with its narrow roads, bird sanctuary, and prized recreational assets.

Fresh Start sees the ultimate decision about the Quads as having larger implications for future development of East Sarasota (see "Sarasota at the Crossroads").

The Celery Fields Area presents complex challenges thanks to a striking variety of urban, rural, recreational, business and residential uses. Four parcels of publicly-owned land totaling about 40 acres lie at the heart of this diversity at the intersection of Apex Road and Palmer Boulevard. The Board has indicated it will hire an independent consultant to rezone parcel #3 and is looking for a quick sale to a developer.

At a "Think Tank" session on November 28, it gave the Fresh Start Initiative the six-month time frame to explore options for parcels #1 and #2 that would be compatible with the existing amenities.

Publicly-owned Parcels 1,2, & 3 and retention pond at Apex and Palmer

Fresh Start's role is simply to facilitate thoughtful planning that will value to this unusual intersection of West and East County. The Celery Fields offer pristine wetlands, waters for kayaking and fishing, hiking trails and bird walks, and a mound rising above it all that people love to climb. It's a vibrant place. Our communities simply wish to keep it that way.

The plan is to hold a few brainstorming sessions at which people can acquaint themselves with the history of the area, learn about developing trends, and exchange ideas. Then, to develop a community consensus of values and guiding principles that would reflect and support the qualities that have made the area an attractive destination for locals and travelers from all over the world.

What would you love to see on our public lands at Apex and Palmer
that would complement and enhance this magical area?

Fresh Start is open to ideas from anyone. We respect the inherent, diverse qualities of these public lands as we consider options that will integrate and synergize their potential economic opportunities. Proposals for the parcels will be presented in an open workshop. The time frame from brainstorming phase to community workshop is January through March 2018.

All wishing to get in touch please write to FreshStartSarasota@gmail.com.

With creative and commonsense ideas, a set of stranded assets can turn into a lovely integrated destination, uniting East and West, and prove a catalyst for the entire area. Think of the Palmer Underpass as a door -- a threshold from the urban core, where one can stroll from the Packinghouse District shops, restaurants, and music west of the highway through the underpass and out into the wide open East, with its water, trails, 220 species of birds, and giant Florida sky. 

No comments:

Post a Comment