University Park

No change for public from Nathan Benderson Park rezone

UNIVERSITY PARK -- Every time Carolyn Brown talks about Nathan Benderson Park, it makes her smile.

On Wednesday evening, the Sarasota County director of parks and recreation spoke about the latest developments of her favorite Sarasota County park at a neighborhood meeting at the Meadows Community Center, 2004 Longmeadow, Sarasota.

The 603-acre park is zoned as open estate use 1, open estate use 2 and residential single family.

In order to better match the park purpose to its zoning, the county wants to rezone it to government use. The neighborhood meeting was another step in the county process.

"Today is just one little step in a process to get us where we need to be," Brown said to a room of about 15 people. "It really syncs it up and makes it concurrent with the facilities and the types of activities that have been there and will be there in the future."

With the second required neighborhood meeting complete, the rezone request will go before the Sarasota County Planning Commission this spring followed by a public hearing before the Sarasota County Commission.

The potential rezone doesn't change the park for the public, she said.

"Nothing is going to change as far as what is planned at the

park," Brown said. "The park is beautiful. It's going to continue to be a beautiful place for our community."

Brown, along with Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates President Paul Blackketter, provided an update on construction while listening to concerns from residents. SANCA is the nonprofit that operates Benderson Park.

Some residents expressed concerns about additional noise from the park.

While Blackketter said noise can never be stopped, being a good neighbor is essential.

"We felt that we needed to maintain that," he said. "We definitely worked our best."

Meadows resident Pamela Letts, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years, said the noise is terrible.

"I can tell you (Interstate 75) was always here but we didn't have the magnification of the road noise by the lake," she said.

While Letts said she is supportive of the park, the noise is a problem. There are times she's been awakened by noise from 8 a.m. Saturday events, she said.

"This is an example of the additional noise that we have had to deal with," she said.

For the Bozers, who have lived in the Meadows for 22 years, the park increased their property value and improved their health and wellbeing.

"Every time we think about moving, Benderson Park has been the drawing point for us to stay here," John Bozer said. He can walk out the back of his house to the park, he said.

Claire Aronson, University Parkway/Sarasota reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at caronson@bradenton.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.

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