Longboat Key, Florida | June 20th, 2017 – We at the Kepecz-Hays Team just love working with clients on Longboat Key and sharing information on local places that help sell luxury properties on our island. Having listed some high-end properties north of town recently, we are delighted to get reacquainted with some of the hidden gems around this area.
One of the attractions in this locality that we came to know more about is Joan M. Durante Park at 5550 Gulf of Mexico Drive which provides a refreshing backdrop to many neighborhoods around it. This park consists of 32 acres fronting Sarasota Bay, and it preserves the coastal hammock forest and wetlands that contribute much to the joys of living in Longboat Key.
Product of Exemplary Partnership
Durante Park is a private–public partnership exemplifying the strength behind the development of Longboat Key into what it is today. The town acquired this property in the late 1980s and demolished the old cabins in it. A resident who moved to the island in 1994, James Durante, offered the town $750,000 to develop it as a park named after his late wife, Joan.
Donations of funds and materials from several government agencies were also behind the park’s development. Some of the donors who pitched in for the project included the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program, and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
An Urban Bayfront Oasis
These joint efforts made an excellent job in restoring and enhancing the native vegetation and desirable trees in the park. Durante Park now offers an endearing refuge both for man and wildlife amidst an urbanized area.
Residents and tourists visiting the park these days experience the sight of lush mangroves in the park’s wetland areas as well as magnificent views of Sarasota Bay. Farther on Durante’s upland areas, canopies of Live Oak, Sabal Palmetto, Banyan and Red Cedar meld with shady Wax Myrtle, Green Buttonwood, Seagrape and Gumbo Limbo.
Visits to the park is made more enjoyable via the walkway in its dune areas created from chips of invasive vegetation meticulously removed in the property. This new coastal dune and the park’s wetland areas are stabilized and enhanced with understory plant species.
Walkways and Gazebos
All told, Durante Park offers over one mile of walking trails meandering through mangrove wetlands, salt marsh and upland hammock. This park also has a pier perfect for appreciating the picturesque Sarasota Bay. Durante likewise features gazebos not only as resting spots but also a place to record inspirational messages in notebooks thoughtfully provided in sturdy containers.
As a successful public and private endeavor, the park has received several awards. The citations it received include the “1998 Outstanding Ecosystem Restoration Award” granted by the Florida Urban Forestry Council. The nonprofit Keep Manatee Beautiful also conferred to the park its “Public Landscape Award,” while the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce honored it with “Image Manatee Beautification Award.”
Delights at Centre Shops
Besides its beauty, Durante Park is also just a short stroll away from the town’s strip mall, The Centre Shops which hosts some of the town’s homegrown restaurants. Within a few minutes’ walk, park visitors can enjoy a wide selection of delectable cuisine. The choices of delicious fare include those at the Blue Dolphin Café and Harry’s Continental Kitchens. The nearby Lazy Lobster and the Euphemia Haye Restaurant & The Haye Loft are also local favorites which too have brought joy to our job as local real estate agents at one time or another.
Be sure to contact the Kepecz-Hays Team if you have a residence to sell or purchase in Sarasota and Her Islands. Together, we’ll for sure get to explore more of the hidden gems that our beautiful town has to offer.