Grant for Phase 1 development continues foundation’s long-running support of The Bay Park
Sarasota, Fla. (January 3, 2021) – Gulf Coast Community Foundation has awarded The Bay Park Conservancy an additional $300,000 grant to support the development of the first 10 acres of park on Sarasota bay, bringing Gulf Coast’s cumulative contributions to more than $1 million in direct donations. The funding will help transform land that is mostly a parking lot into a blue-and-green oasis, celebrating nature and promoting environmental sustainability and accessibility.
In addition, Gulf Coast has provided vital leadership, fundraising support, and fiscal administration to help guide this project from initial inspiration to the current Phase 1 of development.
“Gulf Coast has been a champion for The Bay Park since it was first imagined in 2013, and continues to be a close, supportive partner,” said AG Lafley, founding CEO of The Bay Park Conservancy. “We are proud and grateful for their collaboration in building an open, accessible, free and welcoming park for the full and rich diversity of our community.”
Generous Gulf Coast donors also have recommended over $1 million in direct grants to the project from their funds at the foundation. Gulf Coast has served as The Bay Park Conservancy’s fiscal agent since early on.
In addition, Jon Thaxton, Gulf Coast’s senior vice president for community leadership, has been a passionate leader, advocate, and supporter of The Bay from the beginning. His leadership has been valuable to the project since the original inspiration during a 2013 inter-city chamber of commerce visit to Nashville, TN.
“The vision to transform the Sarasota bayfront into a world-class park, accessible to all, inspired me from the first time it was discussed,” said Thaxton. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to correct numerous environmental mistakes of the past, provide jobs, and offer future generations a sustainable asset that will benefit the community in perpetuity.”
One of Gulf Coast’s unique contributions to ensuring the environmental legacy of the park included a $100,000 grant to provide an innovative water-quality tool. This tool, a “denitrification trench,” diverts rainwater through the trench to neutralize excess nitrogen before it seeps into the groundwater and ultimately flows into the bay.
“Gulf Coast’s vision is a thriving community with opportunities for all,” said Thaxton. “When I think of the future of this region I see The Bay, and I see future generations enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime oasis.”
About Gulf Coast Community Foundation
For more than 25 years, together with our donors, Gulf Coast Community Foundation has transformed our region through bold and proactive philanthropy. Gulf Coast is a public charity that was created in 1995 through the sale of the Venice Hospital. Since then, we have become the philanthropic home of over 950 families, individuals, businesses, and organizations that have established charitable funds here. Together, we have invested over $430 million in grants in the areas of health and human services, civic and economic development, education, arts and culture, and the environment. Learn more at GulfCoastCF.org.
About The Bay
The approved Bay master plan will conserve 53 acres of city-owned land and create an iconic public park along Sarasota Bay. The Park will cost about $100-150 million and will take between 7-10 years, over 3 or more phases to complete. The Blue Pagoda serves as a welcome center for visitors and an on-site office for The Bay Park Conservancy. For more information or general inquiries about this initiative, please visit www.thebaysarasota.org or call 941-203-5316.
About The Bay Park Conservancy
The Bay Park Conservancy (BPC) was formed as a 501c3 not-for-profit organization in 2019 to implement the master plan approved by the Sarasota City Commission to conserve 53 acres of public land for a community park on Sarasota Bay. The BPC entered a long-term partnership with the City and will fund, develop, operate, and sustain the park for the benefit of the community, now, and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.thebaysarasota.org.