Imagine Manatee



Since the Manatee County vision process was brought before the community, much work has been done to turn this future vision into a reality.

The Manatee County Vision Implementation Update

The Manatee County Vision Implementation Update
Since the Manatee County vision process was brought before the community, much work has been done to turn this future vision into a reality. The purpose of the document above is to update the public on the progress being made towards realizing the seven implementation drives outlined by Imagine Manatee:

A Green County

Manatee County will be known as a green county through actions and ethics.

  • Active and passive parks
  • Aggressive acquisition program for environmentally sensitive lands
  • Multi-use trails system
  • Strategically direct growth
  • Strong environmental regulations
  • Environmental education in public schools


  • Establish funding source(s) for parks, trails and environmentally sensitive lands
  • Establish specific plan to manage growth east of I-75
  • Establish policies and incentives to direct development toward already urbanized areas
  • Develop Parks Master Pan, which includes Manatee County, Bradenton and Palmetto
  • Review and amend county and municipal codes as appropriate to ensure environmental protection
  • Expand opportunities for environmental education for all citizens

A Beautiful County

Manatee County will be a beautiful place.


  • Favor redevelopment and infill development
  • Rehabilitation of older neighborhoods, commercial sites and industrial areas
  • Clustering new development into well-designed, distinct neighborhoods and communities with walkable mixed-use centers
  • Aggressive improvement and beautification of weak areas of the community
  • Protection of historic buildings and districts


  • Amend county and municipal plans and codes to provide incentives to favor redevelopment, infill development, rehabilitation and renovation
  • Establish tax credits and other funding methods to encourage historic preservation
  • Aggressively continue and expand programs that improve the weak areas of the community
  • Develop a comprehensive recreational and cultural plan

An Accessible County

Manatee County will have a multi-modal transportation system maximizing accessibility while minimizing congestion.


  • Offer greater choices in modes and methods of transportation
  • Fully integrated system with the regional transportation network
  • A convenient, reliable and safe public transportation system
  • An extensive network of sidewalks and bike facilities to complement public transportation


  • Establish a Transportation Task Force to assess needs and assist in planning and implementing appropriate changes, particularly in the area of public transportation
  • Develop a Transportation Master Plan, which includes the implementation of intelligent transportation system technology
  • Amend plans and codes of the county, municipalities and the Metropolitan Planning Organization consistent with the goal
  • Evaluate all current and potential funding sources to implement the Transportation Master Plan
  • Establish sidewalks and bike paths along all major roads and around schools

An Equitable County

Manatee County will be a fair and just community.


  • Diverse populations living in harmony in well maintained, diverse neighborhoods
  • Aggressive affordable housing program
  • Accessible, easily identified social services for those in need
  • Efficient and well-coordinated network of social services
  • A thriving arts community


  • Establish an Affordable Housing Task Force to seek new ways to stimulate the development of affordable housing
  • Establish a Social Services Coordinating Council to increase opportunities for collaboration and efficiency in the delivery of services
  • Increase police patrols (car, bike, and foot) to reduce crime
  • Establish neighborhood based citizen organizations to communicate community needs to elected officials
  • Establish and expand programs aimed at improving the physical appearance of the existing community and new development
  • Development of facilities, events and funding to support the arts

A Prosperous County

Manatee County will have a thriving, diverse economy.


  • Attractive, vibrant, economically sustainable downtowns throughout the County
  • Focus on downtown waterfronts of Bradenton and Palmetto
  • A skilled workforce
  • Employment for residents at all skill levels
  • Creation of value added jobs


  • Coordinate revitalization efforts of the downtown waterfronts
  • Create and/or update plans to encourage mixed-use development and round-the-clock activities for the downtowns
  • Create a downtown waterfront task force to develop a comprehensive waterfront strategy aimed at maximizing the downtown waterfront economic and recreational potential
  • Increase partnerships between business, government, schools and local colleges to provide workforce education and training consistent with changing needs
  • Continue successful business recruiting programs that bring high-skill, high-wage jobs

A Collaborative County

Manatee County will be a place where residents and governments proactively communicate and share ideas.


  • Involved and informed citizens
  • Open government
  • Increased level of cooperation among governments
  • Increased efficiency and elimination of duplication in the delivery of services


  • County and local municipalities should step up efforts to improve cooperation and coordination among government entities and address consolidation of service delivery, such as law enforcement, fire and medical response
  • Expand outreach methods and frequency to inform and involve the general public in developing and implementing future programs, policies and actions
  • Develop citizen based neighborhood plans, which identify the desires of the community

An Educated County

Manatee County will have a school system known for excellence and efficiency.


  • Technologically advanced education and vocational training
  • Focus on student achievement
  • Well funded
  • Schools as community focal points


  • Develop methods to allow collaborative community input on how to increase the quality of education, system efficiency and to identify, seek and lobby for additional funds
  • Develop greater awareness in the general public of school needs and programs
  • Develop and operate schools as full time community centers
  • Implement one-on-one cross-generational mentoring

The Vision Process

"What can we do to make Manatee County the best that it can be in the coming years?" This question was posed to over 700 participants during the 13 public brainstorming meetings held throughout the county during January and February of 2003. They responded with over 2,550 ideas. These ideas were distilled into 19 goals and 105 strategies providing a dynamic road map for the future of Manatee County.

Participation in Imagine Manatee was very broad. Many residents who had never been involved in something of this nature found an opportunity to express their hopes, expectations and concerns about the future, thereby providing the foundation upon which the vision is built.

The vision process for Manatee County is the result of three complementary programmatic features:

1. Brainstorming ideas for the future,
2. A focus on the physical environment, and
3. Understanding existing conditions.

The ideas were generated at public brainstorming meetings and then refined into goals and strategies in follow up public meetings to provide a clear description of the desired future physical and social character of the County.

The physical development of the County received focused attention during a stakeholder workshop, which examined potential future land consumption and growth patterns. Additionally, during the brainstorming meetings attendees participated in an activity (Strong Places / Weak Places) designed to assess what works and what needs improvement in regards to the physical environment. This activity allowed participants to identify why they considered places weak and strong, and then encouraged them to identify methods to improve the weak. The principles developed as a result of these activities provide a snapshot of the desired physical form and appearance of the County.

A thorough analysis of data, conditions and trends provided the factual basis in which the vision was created and in which it will be implemented. This material was summarized for all participants of the visioning process to create a common base of knowledge.

As the visioning process drew to a close the context provided the factual basis in which the Vision was created and in which it will be implemented. At the beginning of the process, a thorough analysis of data and trends helped build awareness among those who participated in the Vision process of the conditions presently affecting the County, as well as the trends that may influence it in the future. An extensive review of existing plans and programs provided insight into what will ultimately help or hinder the realization of the vision and how to build on the strengths and minimize the obstacles to creating the community in which Manatee County residents aspire to live and work.

Implementing the Vision

A great vision in and of itself cannot improve Manatee County. The vision must be more than a collection of good ideas and aspirations. It must put forth a clear path to implementation.

How can we now transform Imagine Manatee into reality? How can the good will expressed by the public's involvement be harnessed for implementation so that the quality of life rewards articulated in the vision are realized?

To facilitate implementation, the results of the vision have been distilled into seven implementation drives. Each implementation drive spells out how local governments must come together with the private sector, civic institutions, and residents to achieve the shared vision that will make Manatee County an even better place to live, work and play.

For more information on the background data, drives, goals, strategies and actions recommended by Imagine Manatee or to see the complete Vision Report, please click on the links to the project report and appendices. To order a copy of the report or for any other questions concerning Imagine Manatee, please call 941-748-4501.


Imagine Manatee - A Vision for Manatee County is a citizen driven vision program. The vision summarized in this report embodies the ideas gained through a carefully crafted 7 month public involvement program. Led by a Citizen Steering Committee, county residents were the participants and critical decision makers in all phases of the vision process.

Imagine Manatee was initiated by all the local governments within Manatee County and included all the lands within the County.

  • City of Anna Maria
  • City of Bradenton
  • City of Bradenton Beach
  • City of Holmes Beach
  • City of Palmetto
  • Town of Longboat Key
  • Manatee County
Steering Committee
Rick Fawley, Co-Chair Willie Mae Jackson, Co-Chair Mark Barnebey
Joan Blackford-Heintz Fred Booth Beverly Burdette
Patrick Carnegie Clint Chapman Karen Ciemniecki
Jim Delgado Susan Donaldson James Dunne
Nancy Engel Lou Eurice Karen Fraley
E. D. "Moody" Johnson Remonia Lewis Steve Lezman
Norma Lloyd John MacDonald Tim Martin
Ann Melton Ginki Miller Jim Pauley
Ann Peabody Will Robinson Berniece Scott
David Sessions Bruce Shackelford Garrett Shinn
Bob Spencer Edward Stanley Linda Stevenson
Karen Stewart Arlene Sweeting Jean Van Delft
Wendy Vehling Tim Vining Dale Weidemiller
Britton Williams

Report and Appendices

The Imagine Manatee Report and Imagine Manatee Appendices were published March 2004.