Park Improvements

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2015 Master Plan Public Input 4Sarasota County’s 2016 Board-adopted Parks, Preserves and Recreation Strategic Master Plan (PPRSMP) examined community recreational needs, establishing desired levels of service, and outlining implementation strategies. This PPRSMP will help guide future Neighborhood Parkland Acquisition Program, Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program and other park acquisition priorities and the appropriate development of existing and new sites.

Park planning builds upon information documented and mapped in the Parks, Preserves and Recreation Strategic Master Plan, including the inventory of existing conditions, needs assessments and gap analyses. Once a site is identified for possible purchase, or is acquired, it is evaluated using the master plan and/or subsequent information and analyses as a baseline to help determine its highest and best use as a park site in a given location; and to categorize it in the appropriate subsystem classification.

To the greatest extent possible, proposed recreational amenities are matched to a site’s physical and ecological characteristics and attributes, compatibility with adjacent sites, access via multi-modal transportation, and gap analysis (need for a park within a given area of the County). Regulatory constraints are also evaluated to identify any opportunities or challenges. Park concept plans, based on site and user analyses, are created in partnership with the public through community meetings. Initial public meetings are held to present the identified opportunities and constraints of a particular site, discuss a draft concept plan, and/or to solicit additional input from the public regarding the types of recreation facilities or amenities desired. Typically, park concept plans are modified based on public input received.

Considerations in the development of a concept plan include:

  • 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).

  • Project budget.

  • Regulatory requirements (e.g., preservation of protected native habitats, zoning and land use issues, etc.).

  • Site constraints (e.g., topography, drainage, natural resource features, compatibility

    with surrounding land uses, etc.).

  • 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.).

  • Access via multi-modal transportation.

  • Community input.

Prior to bringing a draft concept plan to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), the plan is often reviewed by the Parks Advisory Recreation Council (PARC), or Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee (ESLOC), depending on the type of property, intended use of the site and proposed improvements. Upon approval of the concept plan by the BOCC, staff moves forward to seek the Board adoption of a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) project, usually during the adoption of a County budget. Some CIP projects may be phased over several years based on available funds, or the need to gather additional costs and regulatory information. Typically, following the approval of a concept plan and budget, a professional design team is hired to complete the construction drawings and documents, acquire permits, and assist 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, depending on the complexity of the site, desired recreational facilities and amenities, and available funding.

For details on on-going, Board-approved, Capital Improvement Projects involving parks and other public developments, visit Projects in My Neighborhood.  For further details on the land acquisition process that precedes the development process visit Land Acquisition: Environmentally Sensitive Lands and Neighborhood Parkland Acquisition Programs.