While there is much to be determined in expanding Riverwalk to the east, the eventual expansion is a reality. It’s going to happen.
The city has long wanted more healthier elements for the expansion and thanks to a $100,000 donation to be put toward determining what those healthier aspects will be, those goals will become a reality. Realize Bradenton was awarded the grant through the Manatee Community Foundation through its Knight Donor Advised Fund.
The “Creating Together Project” brings together the priorities of the Knight Foundation, as well as the Manatee Community Foundation, both of which emphasize engaging and connecting citizens to shape the city’s future.
“Through our long-standing relationship with the Knight Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation has enjoyed facilitating meaningful philanthropy that nurtures local talent and builds opportunities for informed and engaged communities where all can co-create possibilities,” said Susie Bowie, MCF executive director. “Realize Bradenton has been a trusted and enthusiastic partner that speaks to the heart of what we want to accomplish together.”
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Realize Bradenton will work with Sarasota-based design firm Kimley-Horn, which designed the original Riverwalk and is currently designing the downtown streetscaping project. The goals of the expansion are to promote, civic, health and economic benefits.
“This grant will allow Realize Bradenton to implement the Create Together Project, which will continue the community involvement that assisted in the planning of the original Riverwalk in 2012,” said Sue Revell, vice chair of the Realize Bradenton board of directors. “Working together works. We look forward to the redevelopment and economic growth that occurs from engaging people, transforming places, and realizing possibilities.”
The project will feature a Millennial Leadership Team working with the Florida Department of Health, Manatee County, UnidosNow and other civic organizations to leverage arts, culture, history, creativity and wellness to build the quality of place that is relevant to the new public park. The project will add new aspects to the planning process, including the creation of temporary mini-parks to test design ideas, Spanish-language outreach, as well as thorough documentation to share Bradenton’s Riverwalk strategies with other cities across the country.
The original Riverwalk accelerated redevelopment in the downtown area and spurred many new projects, bringing hotels, housing, businesses and jobs to the area.
As part of this grant, the Center for Active Design, a nonprofit that uses evidence-based design to foster healthy and engaged communities, will conduct surveys of residents, exercise enthusiasts, business owners, visitors and others. The results will provide practical recommendations for park design, wellness programs and stewardship of the new Riverwalk expansion.
“The existing Riverwalk is as diverse as it is beautiful,” Mayor Wayne Poston said. “It works for Bradenton and beyond because of that diversity. The Riverwalk expansion, like the original Riverwalk, will be shaped by civic involvement and reflect community and city priorities. I look forward to joining our neighborhoods together through additional public space.”