Park Improvements

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Public meeting with more than 50 citizens listening to a speaker.

Parks, Preserves and Recreation Strategic Master Plan 

Sarasota County’s 2016 board-adopted Parks, Preserves and Recreation Strategic Master Plan (PPRSMP) examines community recreational needs.  It establishes desired levels of service and outlines implementation strategies. The PPRSMP will guide the future:

  • Neighborhood Parkland Acquisition Program,
  • Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program and
  • other park acquisition priorities.

The PPRSMP will also guide the appropriate development of existing and new sites.

Park planning builds on the information documented including inventory of existing conditions and needs assessments and gap analyses.

Once a site selected for possible purchase or acquired, then it's evaluated using the master plan. We also use information and analyses as a baseline to help determine its highest and best use. The property is then placed in the appropriate subsystem classification.

Proposed recreational amenities are matched to a site’s:

  • Physical and ecological characteristics and attributes.
  • Compatibility with adjacent sites.
  • Access via multi-modal transportation.
  • Gap analysis (need for a park within a given area of the county).

Regulatory constraints are also evaluated. Park concept plans are then created in partnership with the public through community meetings.

  • We hold initial public meetings to present the identified opportunities and constraints of a particular site.
  • We discuss a draft concept plan and solicit additional input from the public about the types of recreation facilities or amenities they want.

Development of a Park Concept Plan

Primary considerations in the development of a park concept plan include:

  1. The intent of the land acquisition (e.g., was the land acquired primarily for the construction of active recreation amenities or for protection of natural resources and passive recreation).
  2. Project budget.
  3. Regulatory requirements (e.g., preservation of protected native habitats, zoning and land use issues, etc.).
  4. Site constraints (e.g., topography, drainage, natural resource features, compatibility with surrounding land uses, etc.).
  5. Site opportunities (e.g., water access for boating/kayaking, open fields for athletic facility development, wooded areas for picnic facilities, trails or habitat preservation, etc.).       
  6. Access via multi-modal transportation.
  7. Community input.

Draft Site Concept Plan for Merkle Park

Before a draft concept plan is brought to the Sarasota County Commission, it is reviewed by the Parks Advisory Recreation Council (PARC) or Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee (ESLOC).

Upon approval of the concept plan by the commission, staff moves forward to seek the board adoption of a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) project.

Park public workshop showing a woman inputting her ideas onto a sheet of paper on the wall.Some CIP projects are spread out over several years based on available funds or the need to gather additional costs and regulatory information.

Following the approval of a concept plan and budget, the county hires a professional design team to complete the construction drawings and documents. The design team also gets permits and assists with bidding and construction oversight. The design team is overseen by a professional county project management team.

The planning, design, permitting and construction process can take a year or more.

For details on ongoing, approved, Capital Improvement Projects involving parks and other public developments, visit Projects in My Neighborhood

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