Thursday, July 5, 2018

An interim update

Quad Parcels 1,2,3
This is a preview of the Updated Report that Fresh Start will submit to the Board of Sarasota County Commissioners in mid-July, before they take their holiday break. We look forward to a public hearing after the Board return in late August or early September.

Since our April 25th report, we have deepened and refined our proposals, in particular the YMCA proposal which gained the highest level of support -- 84% -- from our community.

So here in brief is where we are:

Thanks to our HOAs who responded to our Neighborhood Survey on publicly accessible athletic facilities, we were able to visualize what East County athletic resources our HOAs currently have available to them -- virtually none. That large red oval contains no public athletic fields or sports courts. 

If you live on East Palmer Blvd., you are looking at drives of up to 9 or more miles to public athletic fields, tennis, basketball or pickleball courts, most of which are west of the Interstate.

East County neighborhoods 

The need for sports-related resources will grow more acute as the area grows. Parcel #2, with 10.6 acres of public property, seems an excellent option for a YMCA. We think the location makes sense for many reasons - including the educative potential of being near the Celery Fields. To quote from our report-in-progress:
At the Celery Fields, the Sarasota Y could offer a rich array of children’s programs making great use of the natural treasures right next door. Think of kids birding with Audubon volunteers, and fishing, hiking, and kayaking with YMCA leaders. A YMCA at the Celery Fields would amplify the range and richness of what our community’s seniors and children can experience. 
There's another element in the image shown above: The names "Hi Hat Ranch" and "Lindvest." These are but two of several large-scale housing tracts either underway, or with plans for approval -- they include Waterside, LT Ranch, Grand Lakes, as well as Hi Hat and Lindvest. These five projects (plenty more are coming) total over 27,000 units of housing on more than 20,000 acres of East Sarasota, stretching from University Parkway to SR 681 near Venice. (More details here.)

It seems reasonable that the County would see the need to plan long-range for the roads, services, and amenities all those new residents will need. Fresh Start's proposals for the Quad parcels offer a good start.

Perhaps there's a larger principle to affirm here:
We take this opportunity to assert the public’s right to a vision that balances private development with public needs. 
What do you think?

Just on the practical level of parcel #2 (parcel #1 is off the surplus list, and our proposals for it remain in place), when you take the amazing changes that have occurred in our area in the past 20 years, and add in those that are coming, the Board is facing a simple choice: 

Community asset . . . or Industrial Blight

THIS . . . 
or THIS? 

We intend to file our Update on July 11, but without a public presentation that day.

Please feel free to share your thoughts between now and then with us at When a public hearing is scheduled, we'll be in touch.

Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

The Fresh Start Executive Council

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