Manatee County Parks & Natural Resources Department has two primary groups responsible for operations, those that focus on the active parks (e.g., GT Bray, Lakewood Ranch Park, Buffalo Creek Park, etc.) and those that work in the preserves (e.g. Emerson Pointe, Robinson Preserve, Duette Park, etc.). The Departments Recreation division provides an array of wellness and fitness programs along with youth and adult athletic league programs including basketball, softball, volleyball and flag football to name a few. The division is also responsible for operating the County's aquatic centers (GT Bray, Willie J "Bro" Clemons, Jr Pool at East Bradenton Park and the John H Marble Pool) as well as two stand-alone "splash pads" at Lincoln Park and Pride Community Park.. The Natural Resources division is responsible for maintaining and restoring the County's conservation properties, including the County's marine environments (artificial reefs, manatee protection) amounting to nearly 30,000 acres of natural lands.
Together these groups work to provide recreation and open space experiences for the residents and visitors to Manatee County.
Parks are fixed assets, but the recreation needs of the population have been changing and moving. The citizens of Manatee County have participated in a variety of public workshops in the past 15 years. Many of these projects included the evaluation of the Comprehensive Plan, Imagine Manatee, How Will We Grow?, the Urban Land Institute’s Panel Report and recent millennial oriented outreach events including iSeeManatee and the Millennial Convention, MCon.
Participants have been passionate about recreation, open space and opportunities to get outdoors, and indoors, to play. The Parks Master Plan will look at the changes that have been occurring, reach out to the public and develop a plan for the next 15 years for the County to develop and maximize its recreation and open space assets. The Master Plan will provide direction to the County on development of three (3) key priority matters based on an existing conditions and needs analysis, as well as recommendations on the way in which the parks are programmed (what they include) and ways in which to improve their overall operations.
The Master Plan will rely on a number of resources in its development and strive to: