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Business Observer Wednesday, Jun. 2, 2021 6 months ago

Nonprofit reaches funding goal for park transformational project

The $20 million goal was reached after a match challenge hosted by a local foundation.

SARASOTA — The Bay Park Conservancy (BPC) recently reached a $20 million funding goal, after the announcement of a $5 million match challenge from The Patterson Foundation helped raise money from private sources.

“The Bay Park Conservancy’s expert guidance and vision is evolving The Bay from a community aspiration into a delightful and inclusive park, with even more features and amenities still to come,” Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation, says in a press release. “The $5 million in private funding that achieved this most recent $1 million gift from The Patterson Foundation — all of which was contributed amid a pandemic — demonstrates our community’s keen awareness of The Bay’s value and the opportunities it will bring to people of all ages and backgrounds.”

A nonprofit, the BPC is responsible for overseeing the transformation of 53-acres of city-owned land along Sarasota’s bayfront into a public park. The initiative has been funded primarily by private sources, including major foundations, family foundations, individual philanthropists and citizens. The BPC ended 2020 with more than 1,000 Founding Friends of the Bay. 

“Our Friends of The Bay initiative was, and continues to be, a meaningful way to make philanthropy accessible for every member of our community and was instrumental in achieving this milestone,” says Veronica Brady, BPC director of advancement. “For as little as $25, $50, $100 or more, anyone can have a part in building this legacy park that will be enjoyed for generations to come.” 

The city of Sarasota and Sarasota County recently approved a cooperative funding agreement with TIF financing that could provide as much as $200 million over the next 30 years. The TIF could finance a substantial portion of the new park and a new performing arts center in the park. Additionally, multiple grants at the regional, state, and national level will supplement the private and city/county funding.

The park’s new Mangrove Bayou Walkway was opened to the public in April and The Fountain Garden opened January 2020. The other features of the park that are currently underway include the Lawns, outdoor Reading Room, a new Kayak Launch, Concession Pavilion and the Sunset Boardwalk. The BPC has begun testing park programming including free yoga and live music. 

“From the beginning, our goal has been to create a park for all,” Founding CEO of The BPC A.G. Lafley says in the release. “The Patterson Foundation, in support of our guiding principles, along with our many private donors and public partners, is helping us make our park a reality.”

The Patterson Foundation had more than $237 million in assets at the end of 2019, according to tax documents posted on its website. 


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