Update: Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 Oct. 28 stakeholders meeting

More than 60 Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 stakeholders and supporters along with community leaders packed the seats of the recent stakeholders meeting in the Herald-Tribune’s community room.

During the Oct. 28 meeting, the four-year-old coalition of 54 community organizations united in support of a vision for Sarasota Bayfront discussed the new Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization (SBPO) board and provided an update on the stakeholder learning trip to Carmel, Indiana in July 2016.

Before beginning the meeting, Virginia Haley discussed a housekeeping item with the audience – Florida’s sunshine and public records policies. The Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 stakeholder representatives (there is one per organization) are subject to those policies because Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 is still technically a committee of the Visit Sarasota County Board of Directors. This means that representatives cannot communicate with other fellow stakeholder representatives about Bayfront topics except at these meetings. For any questions or concerns regarding this topic, contact Virginia.

Volunteer leader, Michael Klauber, took the microphone to talk about the other items on the agenda, but first, took a moment to reflect back on how it all got started.

“Four years ago this month, I was with community leaders in Nashville for an educational experience as the new board chair of Visit Sarasota County,” says Michael. “When having a casual conversation with some of the group, someone asked the question whether anyone was looking at the big picture of the redevelopment of our bayfront. There were the beginnings of an idea to reconsider the plans for a deferred master plan design from 2006-07. The answer then was a big no. When I presented the same question to our Visit Sarasota board several weeks later, I got the same answer. Our board challenged Virginia and I to start a community conversation about the future of our city’s 42 acres on the bayfront. How things have changed in 4 years!”

Now with 54 Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 stakeholder organizations, thousands of citizens are being represented through these civic, business and cultural organizations. Some of the latest stakeholders include The Barancik Foundation, The Patterson Foundation, The Perlman Music Program and Bay’s Bluff Owners Association.

Shantel Norman of Visit Sarasota County and Michael led the recent learning trip to Carmel in July 2016. Commissioner Susan Chapman, City Manager Tom Barwin and representatives from the Sarasota Orchestra and Van Wezel joined them – all paying their own way. They received a personal welcome by one of the most respected elected mayors in the U.S. – Mayor Brainaird, who spent almost two full days with the delegation.

The trip’s purpose was to see the impressive redevelopment and the city’s strong vision and innovative strategy. The group toured the Palladium Concert Hall and other cultural theater spaces and had discussions with leaders of their resident companies. They were also able to have dinner with the City Council and Mayor to learn that the city leadership took smart risks and thought outside of the box to reach their vision.

Encouraged by these insights from Carmel, Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 was excited to present to the Sarasota City Commission the culmination of its work as stakeholders. A community roadmap was presented on how to take the guiding principles and translate them into an implementable plan of action for the bayfront, including the SBPO and the supporting Resource Team.

The recently formed SBPO is an all-volunteer board and will oversee the organization’s community-centered effort to create a master plan for nearly 42 acres of city-owned land on Sarasota’s bayfront. The SBPO will operate as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) community organization with a nine-member board, including one designated by the City of Sarasota. The board will be supported by a professional project manager and operate in accordance with the Florida Open Meetings Act.

The SBPO will also call upon a local Resource Team for input and information throughout their work. Representatives on the Resource Team will include Sarasota Bayfront 20:20, The Van Wezel, Van Wezel Foundation, Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota Art Center, Garden Club, Lawn Bowlers and CCNA, along with specialized city staff and others along the way whose expertise will help produce the best outcome.

The SBPO will consistently reflect the Vision and Guiding Principles adopted by the City Commission and endorsed by all stakeholder organizations.

Community-minded leaders and a Framework Team worked from board recommendations provided by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Sarasota Community Foundation, The Patterson Foundation, the Barancik Foundation and the Selby Foundation to finalize the SBPO board:

  • Tom Barwin, City Manager
  • Allen Carlson, retired president and CEO of Sun Hydraulics
  • Jennifer Compton, attorney and partner for Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick
  • Keith DuBose, attorney and shareholder with Matthews Eastmoore
  • G. Lafley, former CEO and chairman of Procter & Gamble
  • Rob Lane, CPA and managing shareholder with Kerkering Barberio
  • Cathy Layton, retired Sarasota commercial real estate broker and owner of assisted living facilities
  • Cynthia McCague, director for Pier 1 Imports and former senior executive with Coca-Cola
  • Michael Klauber, volunteer chair and president and founder of Michael’s on East

“I am proud to be selected to serve on this new board and will continue my role with Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 as your volunteer leader as well as be a champion for the vision and guiding principles we developed together and now share,” says Michael.

As the meeting was drawing to a close, Drayton Saunders took the stage to discuss his new leadership role in raising the private sector funds necessary to accomplish the great planning task. In this undertaking, he hopes to work as a team in this community effort.

“I’m not sure why I volunteered for this position other than I feel very passionately about these 42 acres,” says Drayton. “This legacy is about vision and the founders of that effort. I’ve watched this property sit since I was a child. I am now 44. This is an investment, and infrastructure is at the core of the strength of any community. We need to reinvest in our natural assets, and these 42 acres can be the centerpiece of our city.”

To kick-start the effort, The Patterson Foundation announced a contribution of up to $300,000 in catalytic funding and consulting support for the SBPO.

Over the next 90 days, Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 will continue as a strong volunteer community organization and a major voice as part of the Resource Team to ensure continued transparency and communication throughout the planning process. The SBPO board will convene to frame its work plan, benchmark the Guiding Principles, review their scope of work and establish core goals and a realistic timeline. By early February 2017, it is expected that another update will be provided on the early efforts of the SBPO.

During the question-and-answer period, some of the comments from stakeholders and the public included:

  • Concern regarding preservation of open space
  • The old plans connected to the bayfront across from Tamiami Trail, which need to be reviewed
  • Connectivity is a significant concern of all
  • Concern about current inadequate planning
  • Discussion explaining that the cultural organizations will be an important part of the Resource Team
  • Access for bikes and pedestrians is vital
  • Need to continue to have Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 stakeholder meetings and updates
  • Master plan needs to have activities for children, as reflected in the Guiding Principles
  • It will be important for strong communications between the SBPO and the Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 stakeholder organizations
  • There is a desire to have younger residents involved and a concern that none of the board members are under 40
  • Development and timing of Quay project will need to be considered
  • University of Florida City Lab students have three different visions for the bayfront

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