Payne Park Preserved; Sarasota City Commissioners vote against Orchestra’s concert hall plan

Published: May. 21, 2019 at 4:08 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A new concert hall for the Sarasota Orchestra will not be built at Payne Park.

That’s the decision by the Sarasota City Commission, following a marathon meeting on Monday night. Commissioners were up until 1:30am on Tuesday, debating the proposal.

In the end, they decided to have the Sarasota Orchestra look at other options. The Sarasota Orchestra wanted to build a 2,500 seat concert hall on about seven acres of green space and on top of the tennis courts. Those tennis courts would have been relocated and rebuilt on wetlands.

The plan has created a big controversy and even sparked protests. At Monday’s meeting, dozens of people came out in support and opposition of the proposal.

Now the Sarasota Orchestra will go back to the drawing board.

Joseph McKenna, President & CEO of Sarasota Orchestra, said, “The orchestra’s committed to finding a home in the city and that’ll continue to be our foremost goal. Certainly Payne Park appears now not to be part of that so our work will begin tomorrow at finding a future home for the orchestra.”

Sami Leigh Scott of Preserve Payne Park said, “These commissioners took into real consideration what harm it would be to a legacy and to the future of additional donors that might need to trust their stewardship.”

The vote was four to one against the Payne Park proposal. Mayor Liz Alpert was the only one who voted in favor of it.

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