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Nathan Benderson Park receives statewide planning award

Sarasota County's Nathan Benderson Park has won yet another planning award -- this time from the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA).

The popular park, which is the site of a world-class rowing venue, received a 2013 APA Florida Award of Excellence in the Planning Project category. The award will be presented at the chapter's annual state conference in Orlando Sept. 10-13.

During the conference, county planners and others will be panelists at a moderated session about the park. The participants will be Planning and Development Services Director Tom Polk and Senior Planner Beth Rozansky from Sarasota County; Tom Walsh, design architect on the project; community representative and rowing enthusiast John Krotec; and Paul Blacketter, executive director for planning at Benderson Development Inc. and chief operating officer of the SunCoast Aquatic Nature Center Association, the nonprofit corporation established to manage the emerging rowing facilities in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

At the APA National Conference in April, Sarasota County was a co-winner of the 2013 APA's prestigious Hunter Award for Excellence in Economic Development. The award was for the design and development of Nathan Benderson Park and the project's economic development potential for sports tourism.

At that conference, the county also received the 2013 Award of Merit from the APA County Planning Division and the National Association of County Planners (NACP) for the park project. The Award of Merit is based on collaborative partnerships between Sarasota County and Benderson Development Inc. that involved the coordinated planning of Nathan Benderson Park, the adjacent large-scale mixed-use project by Benderson Development Inc., and the construction of the North Cattlemen Road extension and improvements.

Nathan Benderson Park's rowing facility, which will be fully developed as a multipurpose aquatic venue by 2015, is being recognized as a worldwide competitive rowing destination. The park began hosting organized regatta competitions in 2009 and is one of two sites under consideration for the 2017 World Rowing Championships.

The park, located at 2500 Honore Ave., Sarasota, was an active shell excavation pit for road construction fill before the county purchased the property. Aside from the rowing venue, the park also provides access to several lakes for non-motorized boating, fishing, bird-watching and other recreational activities.

For more information, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000 (TTY: 711 or 1-800-955-8771).​