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BACKGROUND

The City of Bradenton started the development of the land adjacent to the Manatee River in 1999 with the intention to address:

  • ACCESS ~ Provide residents and visitors with access to the riverfront.
  • DESTINATION ~ Create a diversity of public spaces to ensure that the Riverwalk is an attractive and safe destination for recreation, reflection, exercise, events, public art, and informal gatherings.
  • COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ~ Offer amenities that enhance quality of life and bring people of all backgrounds and ages together.
  • CONNECTIVITY ~ Encourage a walkable downtown that connects the Riverwalk with historic Main Street, the Village of the Arts, and LECOM Park.
  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ~ Improve an under-developed public asset to attract and retain private investment, residents, visitors, and businesses to grow the tax base.
  • BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ~ Attract residents and visitors downtown to shop at local businesses: restaurants, bars, hotels, shops, and galleries.
  • SUSTAINABILITY ~ Build ecological, economic, social, and financial sustainability through public, private, and nonprofit partnerships.
  • CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT ~ Involve residents in shaping the park’s design and activities using surveys, outreach, on-going updates, meetings, and reviews of the park’s master plan.

Timeline

  • 1999: Riverwalk from 15th Street West to the Green Bridge was developed
  • 2012: Riverwalk from the east side of the Green Bridge to 2nd Street East was developed
  • 2017: Community engagement and master plan process for the Riverwalk East started, including:
    • Connector zone from 2nd Street East to 9th Street East
    • Riverwalk East from 9th Street East to 14th Street East
  • 2019: City Council approves motion to begin construction drawings for Mineral Springs Park and the adjacent property.


Click here to view the Riverwalk East Expansion Community Engagement timeline.

Riverwalk 2012 Phase

The Riverwalk improvements completed in fall 2012 created a variety of offerings. Click here for the Riverwalk map, and click here for a photo gallery.

Active Features

  • Splash pad
  • Family play area
  • Skatepark
  • Day dock
  • Beach volleyball
  • Event and performance spaces
  • Fishing Pier


Passive Features

  • Lawns for yoga and exercise
  • Botanical walk
  • Trails for walking and biking
  • Areas for contemplation

Educational and Art Features

  • Tidal Discovery Zone
  • Outdoor living rooms
  • History Postcards
  • Public art
  • Interpretive nature signage

PROPOSED RIVERWALK EAST GUIDING THEMES

Health and wellness in a community is holistic and includes fitness, nutrition, literacy, arts, heritage, civic pride, and social connections.

  • A public park has the ability to welcome a diversity of people positively connecting neighbors, friends, and visitors.
  • A well-designed public park attracts private investment and expands the tax base.
  • A walkable downtown positively impacts health, social connections, business development, and private investments.
  • A park’s physical design sets the stage for wellness, cultural, family, and educational offerings.
  • Connecting the 2.2 miles of the riverfront from west to east provides a distinctive Bradenton experience and strengthens downtown’s identity as a cultural, historic, and welcoming riverfront destination.
  • A successful park thrives by embracing the area’s ecological, cultural, and historic aspects, while building financial sustainability through the investments of public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
  • Informing and engaging diverse individuals in shaping park options builds civic pride and future park stewardship.

RESEARCH

City Competitiveness Indicators
Increasingly, cities compete for residents, visitors, investors, and new businesses. High-quality public places, which offer a range of features and events, are a proven strategy to promote quality of life and economic growth.

Health Indicators Show
78% of health costs nation-wide are related to lifestyle. Community health improves with more opportunities for recreation, walking, biking, and social connections.

Economic Indicators Show
More than 30 studies have shown that quality parks have a positive impact on nearby property values. According to Americans for the Arts’ “Arts & Economic Prosperity” report, homes located near a park, may have their value increase by up to $81.54 per square foot.

Tourism Indicators Show
Over one third of the U.S. traveling public (55 million) seek places where they can interact with the people, history, culture, and features of a destination.

Community Trust Indicators Show
The Center for Active Design reports that residents who walk frequently report higher civic engagement across a number of measures. They are 5% more likely to have regular chance encounters with neighbors, 13% more likely to help a neighbor, and 10% more likely to think that a neighbor would help them. They are also 11% more likely to engage in stewardship activities such as sweeping the sidewalk or picking up litter. Their research also finds that walking is associated with higher perceptions of safety. Respondents who get around their neighborhood by walking are 12% more likely to report that both their neighborhood, and their local park, are safe at night.

Public Safety Indicators Show
The Center for Active Design reports that residents who reported the presence of well-maintained lights in their local park were more likely to report high levels of trust in the police (+6%), trust in their neighbors (+6%), and trust in local government (+4%).

Civic Trust Indicators Show
The Center for Active Design reports that residents who live near a popular park reported high levels of civic engagement. For example, those who reported that the park closest to their home was regularly used by many people were 29% more likely to be satisfied with the local parks and recreation department, and 14% more likely to be satisfied with the local police.

GLOSSARY

Riverwalk East
Riverwalk East is an extension of the downtown Bradenton Riverwalk. This 1.5 acre tract of land, owned by the City of Bradenton, is located in the vicinity of the 100 block of 14th Street East in Bradenton, FL.

Master Plan
A master plan is a comprehensive vision designed for a specific space often owned by a municipality. Development of the plan occurs following community engagement, consideration of size and scope of land and consideration of topography. Once the plan is developed and approved by the municipality, a timeframe for implementation and budget is established. Often master plans are completed in multiple phases depending on funding sources.

Passive Recreational Use
Passive recreational use refers to lesser structured recreational activities in a public park space. Examples of passive recreation activities include: walking, biking, jogging, wildlife viewing, bird watching, painting, and photography. These activities are often enjoyed on a first-come, first-served basis and do not require significant infrastructure improvements.

Active Recreational Use
Active recreational use refers to recreational activity that requires significant infrastructure for the purposes of active sports and/or organized events. Examples of active recreation activities include: team sports, archery, pickleball and, tennis. Active recreation use often includes specific turf management and maintenance to accommodate the active use.

Linear Park
A linear park is a park often found in an urban or suburban setting that is substantially longer than it is wide.

Right of Way
A right-of-way is an easement which allows the right to make a way over a piece of land, typically for transportation (example: walking path) purposes. The owner of the land keeps the benefits and privileges of ownership and the public benefits from the additional freedom of movement.