Who knew? An abundance of riches in our midst

Contributing Columnists

The Bayfront Park Recreation Center arrived at its current location following a convoluted route.

The existing building was the clubhouse of the Far Horizons Resort; in 1984 the building was moved and donated to the Town at its current location by none other than Colony Chairman Murf Klauber.  The property was owned and operated by a group of citizens known as the LBK Community Center, Inc. That entity donated the park to the Town of Longboat Key in 1994.  Thus, the inception of Bayfront Park Recreation Center, which became a public facility run by the Town of Longboat Key; the plan was to offer inexpensive recreation for youths, adults and seniors, and a rental for parties and special occasions.

Bayfront Park Recreation Center is filled with sports opportunities, offering two tennis courts, a soccer field, baseball field and full basketball court…all with bay views.   On the day we visited, one adult was attempting baskets, and two were playing tennis. Granted, it was April 21st, but still, I wondered how many people in the general vicinity actually knew what they were missing.

The April 2014 Calendar shows the Center’s main use today is an assortment of fitness classes, and Duplicate Bridge three times a week.  There are different activity costs for members and non-members.  Membership is extremely inexpensive—a resident family can join for $60, while a single adult for $25.  An off-Island Resident for $35, and those are yearly fees.

This Park has traveled a winding path that has yet to reach final consensus.  For years the Town has looked for ways to properly utilize this exceptional piece of land.

In 2003, the Town Commission created a Community Center Advisory Committee (CCAC) to propose future plans.  The Town selected Architects to work with the CCAC.

In March 2004, a Bond Referendum was presented to the town and soundly defeated by the electorate.

In March 2007, Sarasota County Government purchased 3.88 acres of adjacent land to the south of Bayfront Park.

In 2008 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Sarasota County and Longboat Key.  By the summer of 2009 a Concept Plan was approved.

In 2011 the Town Commission empowered staff to develop a site plan, drawing ideas from 2003 and 2009 recommendations.  A few of the ideas included a Kayak Launch, Fitness Trails throughout the park, a large, updated playground, and a general upgrading of the outdoor amenities.

In October 2011, Architects were selected to update the Concept Plans.

In November 2011, the Town purchased .71 acres of property North and adjacent to Bayfront Park

(4110 GMD).

Since 2012, open dialogue regarding the new center has focused on developing the park amenities outlined above and building a new Cultural Center near Town Hall. The park redevelopmnent could start as soon as next year.  So what now?

My suggestion is to visit this wonderful Park as it is today.  If you’re vacationing, or live here, and want to soak up your surroundings in a variety of ways, Bayfront should be your destination.  There are picnic tables for casual dining.  If you feel like having fun at the beach you’ll find a designated parking area here, and of course, your group can indulge in any sport you choose.  And that includes Pickleball!

New at the Park right now is a Pickleball court, the lines drawn within one of the Tennis Courts.  If you said, huh??, as I did, let me explain the latest sports craze.  Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines elements of Badminton, Tennis and Table Tennis.  Players use solid paddles to hit a perforated ball over the net.

There’s so much choice in leisure activity or simple relaxation; the Bayfront Recreation Center is here for you—use and enjoy it!

Sheldon Paley, a resident of Longboat Key for 20 years and a realtor for 13 years, is affiliated with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. Prior to moving to Longboat Key, Paley attended Ohio State University; U of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry and Harvard Medical School for 18 months for a degree in Implantation.

Joyce Paley attended Miami University, Ohio State University and Capital University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Major in Professional Writing.


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