The public gets involved in plans for Sarasota’s Bobby Jones Nature Park
The park is set to open Dec. 15 alongside revamped golf course, but ultimate design is still under consideration.
A conference room at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex was buzzing with conversation recently as 40 community members gathered to hear and chat about plans for the nature park alongside the city of Sarasota’s Bobby Jones Golf Course.
The city already envisions such amenities as benches, picnic tables, a bird blind, a boardwalk and several marsh overlooks, but officials hosted the forum to hear what else residents wanted to see.
“I think we’ve put out there some suggestions, like these improvements, but I think the meeting is essentially for that, to receive input on what people would like to see out there,” said John DePazos, capital project coordinator for Sarasota’s Parks and Recreation.
The park will open Dec. 15, along with the revamped Bobby Jones golf course, in its most basic form, with trails and signs. As designs and ideas come together for further improvements, those will come along by late 2024.
Candie Pedersen, general manager for parks and recreation, says landscaping will be big part of what comes next.
“For us, the thing that makes it a nature park is we’re going to start planting trees and shrubs and ground cover next year,” said Pedersen. “We’ve got about $140,000 from the tree mitigation fund to start that.”
Along with the tree mitigation fund, which collects a portion of tree-removal permit fees for urban canopy programs, the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is leading fundraising efforts for other park amenities. Some funding will also be available in October of 2024 from the county’s penny surtax.