Doug Hattaway of the Trust for Public Lands speaks at Feb3, 2015 FLT mtg

IMG_1905Doug Hattaway of the Trust for Public Land was our guest speaker for the February 3, 2015 FLT meeting. TPL is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect lands as parks and open spaces. The Draft Feasibility Study to extend The Legacy Trail to downtown Sarasota, now being reviewed by Sarasota County Staff, pegs the construction cost at about $15 million, but offers no estimate on land acquisition costs or financing opportunities. TPL was instrumental in negotiating the purchase of the existing 10.6 mile segment of The Legacy Trail, and has begun discussions to acquire use of the proposed 8.6 mile extension. Doug provided insight on the acquisition of the current trail corridor and opportunities for acquiring the corridor to downtown Sarasota.

Riding the 2015 Tour de Parks

by Roger Normand

Riders gather for 2015 Tour de Parks
Riders gather for 2015 Tour de Parks

Beneath darkened, brooding skies they gathered at the historic Venice Train Depot for the 6th Annual Tour de Parks bicycle ride, sponsored by the Friends of the Legacy Trail. The weather forecast promised a good day; the misty morning suggested otherwise. Who would be right?

P1110168 Meeting up TdP w/ friendsNonetheless, they came, guided to parking areas by flashlight toting volunteers. They dismounted bikes from their automotive perch: mountain bikes; tri-bikes; beach cruisers; recumbents; single speeds, a few trikes. Many donned clip-in shoes. Others adjusted the brakes or added a few drops of chain lubricant on their bikes. They would be riding 62 miles – gotta make sure everything is just right. Other volunteers staffed a well organized, speedy registration process, handing out a commemorative t-shirt and food wristband for those who had pre-registered but had not picked it up at nearby bike shop Real Bikes the previous day.

Venice Train Depot was filled with morning bikers
Venice Train Depot was filled with morning bikers

Team members assembled. Friends from previous rides greeted each other and caught up on news. Newbies introduced themselves. “How are things at work?” “Have you been training for this ride?”

As in previous years, local restaurant and long time FLT supporter First Watch served bagels, muffins, yogurt and fruit for breakfast along with some fresh Florida OJ and a morning cup of joe: fuel to begin the day’s journey. Yummy. Our corporate sponsors Doctor’s Hospital, Sarasota Orthopedics Associates, Bucket Fillers, Venice Village Family Chiropractors, Bentley’s Boutique Hotel, Florida Ear & Sinus Center/Silverstein Institute set up tables and offered free trinkets and advice.

Assembling at the starting line
Assembling at the starting line

A quick pre-departure pit stop, and riders started to assemble on the trail, anxious to begin the day’s ride. There was a restless anticipation – let’s get going! As the clock struck eight o’clock, without fanfare, the wave of some 111 sixty-two milers and many of the thirty-seven milers headed north on the trail.

....and they're off....
….and they’re off….

We soon crossed the trestles that span the beautiful, still waters of South Creek and Dona Bay. I noticed many cyclists looking up to eastern skies at the bright morning sun peaking through the clouds and fog as we rode over the trestles. It was a magical moment. It would be a great ride on what would prove to be a spectacular southwest Florida spring day with light winds, and mostly blue skies with just enough cloud cover to keep the temps comfortable.

Waves of rider await the green light to proceed through Clark Road
Waves of rider await the green light to proceed through Clark Road

We had over 425 enthusiastic riders for this year’s TdP, with the rest of the 37 and 15 milers leaving by 9 am. Riders ranged in age from 8 to 85 years. About two-thirds came Sarasota County, with half the rest coming from elsewhere in Florida, and the remainder from states as far as California and Maine. Six riders originated from other countries. About 50 volunteers provided food and drink at rest stops, served as route guides, or provided other administrative support. Thank you to local bike shops Sarasota Cycle and Bicycles International for providing SAG support.

Rest stop at OJT
Rest stop at OJT

This was my second time riding the 62 mile TdP. Many riders remarked how well marked the route was compared to last year – I didn’t need to pull out my map or cue sheet. The course offers a fascinating scenic diversity. I like riding through some of the many Sarasota area parks. I particularly enjoy the native scrubby plants along Oscar Scherer State Park, hoping to catch a glimpse of a soaring bald eagle, Florida Scrub Jays, or a gopher tortoise ambling across the trail. There are pastures with grazing long-horned cattle. The loop around along the narrow, winding trail through the canopy of hemlocks at Rothenbach Park provides an interesting change of pace.

a vintage penny-farthing bicycle graces the 2015 TdP
a vintage penny-farthing bicycle graces the 2015 TdP

Thirty-seven and 62-milers enjoy the final loop through Casey Key. Approaching Casey Key, I was forced to stop at the single lane 1920’s era swing bridge that had opened to allow a few pleasure boats passage. It’s a ride, not a race. I chatted amiably with a fellow TdP rider, the unmistakable smell of ocean air filling our lungs. Once on the Key, we rode along the winding, low-traffic ocean front road. It’s fun looking at the mansions of the rich and famous that line much of the road. A light breeze mixed the ocean air with that of the fragrant hibiscus that will brush against if you ride too close to the edge of the road. And then, suddenly, you are greeted with an expansive view of the ocean and bay. Wow.

Rest stop at Colonial Oaks
Rest stop at Colonial Oaks

In lieu of riding through a residential neighborhood after Rothenbach Park, this year’s course substituted a 3.5 loop around Nathan Benderson Park, site of numerous regional and national events, as well as the 2016 International world rowing championships. It’s a no-brainer tradeoff! The spectacular 400 acre lake is quite visible from heavily traveled I-75, which I’ve driven hundreds of times. It’s even better up close, cycling around the perimeter. What a transformation from what was once a borrow pit for the construction of I-75, with more improvements underway or planned.

Friends a plenty!
Friends a plenty!

I returned to the Venice Depot at about 12:30 pm, too late for some of the lunch time events. I’m told former County Parks & Recreation Director John McCarthy gave a rousing endorsement of The Legacy Trail and the TdP, as did Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines. I feasted on the pulled pork lunch prepared by Back Woods BBQ as I chatted with other riders.

Sure I was tired. That was the longest ride I’d taken in the still early 2015 season. But what a wonderful ride, with scenic views and the camaraderie of other cyclists of all abilities. This was the primary fund raising event for the FLT, raising over $10,000. I look forward to doing next year’s TdP. Perhaps you’ll join me.

Initiating the Feasibility Study

The Legacy Trail terminus at Culverhouse Nature Park
The Legacy Trail terminus at Culverhouse Nature Park

[Initially posted March 2014] The vision to extend The Legacy Train from it’s current terminus at Culverhouse Nature Park on McIntosh Road 8 miles north to downtown Sarasota has taken a giant leap forward with the beginning of a Feasibility Study. Sarasota County awarded the study on 14 March 2014 to Cardno TBE, an international infrastructure and environmental services company with offices throughout the U.S., including here in Sarasota. Cardno TBE is no stranger to this task, having studied building multi-use trails elsewhere, and managed construction of the two existing bridges spanning Dona Bay and Roberts Bay on The Legacy Trail.

Larry Mau of Cardo TBE explains The Legacy Trail Extension Study at a FLT mtg
Larry Mau of Cardo TBE explains The Legacy Trail Extension Study at a FLT mtg

Larry Mau, Branch Manager of the Sarasota office of Cardno TBE, provided an overview of the feasibility study at the April 2014 meeting of the Friends of The Legacy Trail. CSX owns the railroad right of way, and has leased the land to Seminole Gulf Railroad. The notional path extends the existing trail from the current terminus at Culverhouse Nature Park in a straight line along the rail corridor north to Fruitville Road, where it would hook west to Payne Park, then turn north and terminate at Ringling Blvd.

The study is expected to last about six months, with half that time gathering data, performing technical analyses, and mapping the corridor. The study is expected to conclude by December 2014 with a final report and cost estimate to be presented to the Sarasota County Commissioners.

The study will analyze the existing railroad corridor and consider aspects of extending the trail, including:

  • Whether to retain the tracks and construct an adjacent trail, or remove the existing railroad tracks and replace them with a hard surface trail bed.

    View of tacks from Sawyer Loop Road
    View of tacks from Sawyer Loop Road
  • Need for bridges over waterways and at roadway intersections.
    Physical properties of the corridor, such as soils, existing utilities.
  • Trail width (the existing trail is 12 feet wide), and consider the need to separate cyclists from pedestrians, particularly in the more congested downtown area.
  • Property ownership along the corridor.
  • Storm water management, including water retention ponds and wetlands.
  • Environmental site assessment, including the potential impact on threatened or endangered species.
  • Historical and cultural concerns.
  • Need for trail links to nearby schools, parking, SCAT bus service.
  • Number and location of shelters.

Stayed tuned for further updates!

Welcome to the new FLT web site!

Welcome to, our new web site!  Our previous web site, has served us very well.  However, it has been in existence with little structural change, and minimal enhancements, for over four years – ancient history by internet chronology.  The site was built using a great deal of custom coding under the hood, which was typical at the time the site was built.  Unfortunately, that required us to pay a contractor to revise seemingly elemental portions of the site.  It’s time for a change.

This new site has a contemporary, flexible,  blog-focused design.  It offers a more attractive, visually oriented, magazine style layout with cascading sub-menus for easier navigation.  We will  prominently display several items as featured content at the top of the homepage.  Content and organizational structure are easily modified to accommodate future needs without resorting to custom HTML coding.  We can confidently incorporate software updates as developers offer bug fixes and capability enhancements.  The site will properly display content across the full range of screens sizes, from desk top to mobile devices, and allow users to connect to social media.  Yes, we will be incorporating social media links in the future.  We have incorporated a Google maps feature that will in the near future display trailheads, toilets and water stops,  It will also allow you to enter an address and receive turn-by-turn directs.  The site will easily allow video and photo galleries.

FLT volunteers developed this web site at minimal cost,  We will operate and maintain the site without the need for contractor support, at a considerable savings.  Should we encounter challenges, there is a large, diverse user base on the internet to help resolve issues.

Please look around the site.  We have migrated all the pertinent content from the old site.  We are working to smooth transitional anomalies, and get comfortable with the new capability at our fingertips.  Contact us if you encounter any issues, or would like to offer suggestions.  We will retain the old site online for the near future, but all new content will be posted exclusively on this new site.

The FLT are very fortunate to have a growing, dedicated cadre of volunteers with extraordinary skills.  We are deeply grateful for the time, energy, enthusiasm and professional expertise FLT volunteer Stephen Martin provided in developing this new site.  Thanks Steve.  You have a reserved, front-row seat when the conductor calls “All Aboard……Next Stop, Downtown Sarasota.!



Fill the Seats with Yellow FLT shirts @ Apr 1 County Commissioner’s Mtg

The Sarasota County Commissioners will discuss the results of the Feasibility Study to Extend The Legacy Trail to Downtown Sarasota  at their April 1st meeting.  We hope that discussion will lead a decision on how best to move forward.  It is important for everyone that supports the Trail Extension to attend this meeting and show your silent but support by wearing your yellow Trail Extension shirt. We want the Commissioners to see a lot of yellow in the audience!
The Feasibility Study discussion is scheduled for the morning session which begins at 9 am Wednesday April 1 at the Commission Chambers – First Floor – County Administration Center – 1660 Ringling Blvd – Downtown Sarasota.  There will likely be numerous items on the agenda, and we will not know the order of topics, so please plan to be there for the 9 am start.
We hope the County Commissioners will take the next step forward, which we believe centers on commissioning an independent property appraisal of the rail corridor with CSX Corporation (the current property owner), and the Trust for Public Land (negotiated the 2004 sale of the rail corridor from CSX to Sarasota County that became The Legacy Trail).
If you need to buy a yellow Trail Extension shirt please contact MJ Rouvet (Venice area) 941-484-8964 or Chuck Butterfield (Sarasota area) 941-408-3979 $15 short sleeve $20 long sleeve.  We will also have shirts available outside the meeting room.

New Ambassador Patrols hit the Trail

FLT renewed its commitment to sponsoring Ambassador Patrols along The Legacy Trail and Venetian Waterway at a 4 December 2014 orientation seminar held at the Nokomis Park Community Center. About 15 new Ambassadors participated. Deputy Cathy Duff of the Sarasota Sheriff’s office provided a law enforcement perspective, while Sarasota County employees Vicki French, Brenda Canales, and Ed Wolfenbarger explained the County volunteer application process, required background checks, reporting aspects, patrol duties and responsibilities. Patrollers will offer helpful advice to trail users, report potential law enforcement concerns to the Sheriff’s office, and maintenance needs to the County Parks office. Patrollers completing the volunteer application process received a high visibility Ambassador Patrol vest to wear while on patrol. See the Trail Ambassadors tab on the left for more information.

Another $10K Closer to Bringing The Legacy Trail to Downtown Sarasota!

The first annual FLT 5K Fun Run/Walk and other corporate donations have raised a most impressive $10,000 towards the Extend the Legacy Trail Campaign. This effort aims to help pay for an ongoing feasibility study to bring this multi-use urban trail from its current northern terminus at Culverhouse Park to downtown Sarasota!

An unseasonably chilly Sarasota morning greeted participants on November first 2014 for the inaugural FLT 5K Fun Run/Walk. Braced with hot coffee and with car headlights illuminating the night, volunteers gathered in the wee hours to set up tables for the start and finish line at Culverhouse Park. Despite the cool start, the morning sun quickly warmed the air and brought a lovely fall morning, signaling the end of another hot Sarasota summer. Participants got some exercise and met new friends. Runners and walkers agreed it lived up to its billing – its was a FUN event for a great cause. All received an Extend the Legacy Trail T-shirt and a light, nutritious breakfast upon their return, complements of Doctor’s Hospital. Thank you to Doctors Hospital and our other event sponsors: The Silverstein Institute, Coppola Realty, Heritage Family Chiropractic, and The Bucket Fillers. We hope you can join us for next year’s event if you couldn’t make it this time.
With a growing number of trail users now exceeding 120,000 per year, it’s not surprising that proximity to The Legacy Trail is often included as an amenity in new and existing home sales listings for neighborhoods that abut or are close by. Real estate developers and realtors see real economic value in the presence of this multi-use trail.

Justin Powell, VP Palmer Ranch Holdings Ltd presents a check to Margaret Brading of FLT

We are deeply grateful to the generous donations provided by real estate developers Taylor Morrison Homes, Pulte Homes, Inc., and Palmer Ranch Holdings, Ltd. to support the Extend Campaign. Regrettably, Steve Kempton, Division President for Taylor Morrison was unavailable for a photo recognizing their donation.

Michael Woolery, Land Div Mgr for Pulte Homes Inc presents a check to Margaret Brading of FLT
Michael Woolery, Land Div Mgr for Pulte Homes Inc presents a check to Margaret Brading of FLT
A special note of gratitude goes to longtime FLT volunteer Margaret Brading who conceived, planned, and with the help of a few dozen other FLT volunteers managed the 5K Fun Run/Walk event. She also sought these corporate donations. All Legacy Trail users benefit from the tireless efforts of our FLT volunteers who graciously give their time and effort to help stage Legacy Trail fund raising events like this one.

The 5K Fun Run/Walk and these corporate donations have, together, brought us $10,000 closer to our fundraising goal to support the Extend the Legacy Trail Campaign.

Click HERE for the current funding status. See the Trail Extension tab on the left for the latest news on the ongoing feasibility study to extend The Legacy Trail.