Bradenton Riverwalk wins regional 1st-place award

March 26, 2013 

The Bradenton Riverwalk was honored Monday with a first-place regional award for being the top cultural, sports and recreation project in the region.

The award was given during the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council's 21st Annual Future of the Region Awards ceremony in St. Petersburg.

"This is coming off of (Herald writer) Marty Clear's article this weekend: This

is a positive perfect storm," said Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton. "This community thinks big, we're persistent and we work together.

"The word is getting out," she said after the ceremony. "So much is happening, and to get this big recognition -- it's arts, culture, history and recreation, that's what the Riverwalk is all about."

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, which includes 40 jurisdictions from Manatee, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, hosts the annual ceremony to honor achievements in resource planning and management in the Bay area.

The judging committee noted the Riverwalk's "sustainable design, diverse amenities to encourage wellness, recreation, entertainment and enjoyment of the river," according to a news release.

"This is a wonderful honor for the Riverwalk project to be named the best in Tampa Bay," Mayor Wayne Poston said in the release. "We knew Bradenton and Manatee County residents loved it, but we are overwhelmed to win a first place in the region."

The city, the Downtown Development Authority and Realize Bradenton participated in the design, with public input and ongoing management of the park.

"Everyone is rowing in the same direction to make this the best riverfront community in the country," Isham said.

City Councilman Patric Roff also attended the ceremony Monday.

"I think that the amazing part of this, to be recognized for a park like this in the greater Tampa Bay region, we are going up against much larger cities than us," Roff said. "It shows the high caliber of the park."

The downtown Bradenton bus transfer station was among the other projects in Manatee County that received honorable mention.

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