Sarasota nonprofit group is denied charitable renewal

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SARASOTA, Fla. – The nonprofit group managing Nathan Benderson Park has been denied from soliciting donations, for now. The Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates is the nonprofit managing the high profile development into a world class rowing facility.

The state banning the group from soliciting donations after failing to provide 2012 financial records.

President and CEO of S.A.N.C.A., Paul Blackketter, said most of the money thus far has come from taxes and emphasizes this is a public park. The group Sarasota Citizens for Responsible Government is critical of the project.

President of the group, Cathy Antunes, said “There has been project creep all along, it started as $3,000,000 and is now over $50,000,000. It needs a $22,000,000 private investment and there hasn't been any substantial private investment. So I think all of us have to be looking at it saying what are you doing with our money?"

However, Blackketter said once the boathouse construction is done, which should be in the next six to eight months, they will start raising money from private donors. He said so far they have made events at the park the main priority, but from here on out he pledges to make finances a priority.

Blackketter said from now on S.A.N.C.A. will be “administratively making sure everything is taken care of in regards to reporting, transparency and everything else. This has been a good lesson for us. I think we are very excited about the future and I see nothing but future success for S.A.N.C.A and Nathan Benderson Park.”

Blackketter said the nonprofit is working to regain its registration as a charitable organization and should obtain it within coming days.