Selby Descendants Endorse Gardens Master Plan

Todays News


Count some of Marie Selby’s descendants among supporters of a master plan for the botanical gardens bearing her name.

Officials at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens this week released a letter signed by eight relatives of the early Sarasota matriarch. There, the living legacy endorsed a long-term plan to build up capital facilities.

“Aunt Marie felt passionately about education and public access to nature, and that’s why she donated her land,” the letter reads. “If the Master Plan is approved, the Gardens’ collection will be housed and protected in a new herbarium with Category-5 hurricane-rated windows, and expanded facilities will offer even more opportunities for visitors to learn about one of the world’s best collections of rare plants.”

Signatories to the letter include Lawrence E. Zehring, Christine Zehring Schou, Robert A. Haynes III, David R. Haynes, Sarah Haynes Cowan, Richard B. Haynes, Diana Haynes Runyon and Michael R. Minshall. All are great nieces and nephews of Selby, and half live locally, the letter states.

The opinions run counter to many in the neighborhood. A banner hangs from a home across the bayou from Selby Gardens asserting Selby herself would vote to nix the plan.

But family members say such presumptions trample on the Selby legacy more than a sky garden. “Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and as a trailblazing woman, Aunt Marie often shared hers,” the letter reads. “But we respectfully request that community residents express their own personal opinions and not belittle Aunt Marie’s memory by implying that they know what she would or wouldn’t think.”

The letter noted several assets of the master plan, including a controversial five-story parking garage that will use renewable energy to power the campus.

And Selby officials have noted that the master plan calls for new construction on land acquired around the original Selby property but leaves the land donated by Selby herself intact.

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