Voice your opinion with FL legislators on the use of Amendment 1 funds

Amendment 1 – the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment – was approved by 75% of voters in the November 2014 general election. This amendment was intended to restore historical, substantially higher funding levels to long standing programs to protect Florida’s water, wildlife habitat, natural areas and parks. The Amendment dedicates one-third of the funds generated from the existing Florida excise tax on land documents to acquire, restore and manage conservation lands.

Many media reports, including The Sarasota Herald Tribune, indicate that legislators are considering using Amendment 1 funds in place of operating funds at state conservation and park departments. Some legislators believe the state already owns too much public land and cannot properly manage it.  They propose to virtually eliminate the use of Amendment 1 funds for land acquisition.

Amendment 1 presents a potential funding source to support the Legacy Trail extension, as Amendment 1 calls for renewed state spending on recreational areas, along with water and land conservation and other related purposes.  The three rules of real estate are location, location, location.  If legislators believe the state has too much land, they should act to dispose of some of it, while moving to acquire other high value conservation and park parcels.

See the following talking points provided by Florida’s Water & Land Legacy, the coalition of conservation and civic organizations, businesses and concerned citizens who advocated for Amendment 1.

The time to fix this is short.  Contact your Sarasota area legislators below today.  The regular committee meetings end April 21, and the last day of the regular sessions is May 1st, so please act today.

House District 70: The Honorable Darryl Ervin Rousan, State Representative

House District 71: The Honorable Jim Boyd, State Representative

House District 72: The Honorable Ray Pilon, State Representative

Senate District 28: The Honorable Nancy Detert, State Senator

  • visit web site, which includes an email link

Here is some suggestion text:

I am one of the 4.2 million people who voted in favor Amendment 1.

I believed when voting for the amendment that it would provide new, additional funding for Florida Forever, land conservation, springs and the Everglades.

Please support amendments on the Senate floor to use Amendment 1 funds as the bill sponsors originally intended, not as a substitute for existing operational funds.

I particularly support the possible use of Amendment 1 funds for efforts to extend The Legacy Trail to downtown Sarasota.

Bike Rodeo for Kids – 18 April 2015

Sarasota Bike Rodeo 2015.001FLT is joining with the Sarasota Police Department to sponsor a bike rodeo for kids on 18 April 2015 at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex, 1845 34th St, in Sarasota, FL from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. There will be an agility course, bike games, and prizes.  FLT will offer free bike helmets and fitting for kids.  Florida law requires that all bike riders younger than 16 years of age must wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.  Bring your kids and their bikes for a fun time.

Celebrate Earth Day (and learn how to lead a more earth-friendly life)

Florida House Earth Day flyer
Florida House Earth Day flyer

We are proud to join the Florida House Institute as they host a family friendly Earth Day open house celebration on Saturday, April 25 at their newly renovated facility at 4454 Beneva Road, Sarasota FL.

Florida House will showcase the latest Florida specific technologies and strategies to achieve zero energy and barrier free accessible design for all stages of life. There will be live music and demonstrations ranging from solar energy to gardening and home cooking. FLT will also have a booth promoting the multi-use, non-motorized Legacy Trail

Sharky’s Ride the Beaches, 26 April

Sharky's Ride the Beaches 2015FLT is proud to support Sharky’s Ride the Beaches.  With over 1,000 riders, this is one of the area’s premier cycling events, with options to ride a 15, 35 and 70 mile fully supported course.  Sharky’s on the Pier is a very popular waterfront restaurant in Venice, FL.  The Ride the Beaches event supports severable charitable causes, including the Friends of the Legacy Trail.  You can register on line at Active.com by clicking here,

County Commissioners Endorse Proceeding with Legacy Trail Extension

The Sarasota County Commissioners unanimously endorsed proceeding with extending The Legacy Trail to downtown Sarasota at their 1 April 2015 meeting. The room was filled with many trail supporters wearing bright yellow FLT jerseys and others wearing colorful bike club jerseys. Thank you to the many Legacy Trail supporters for your visible support!

FLT supporters listen to the discussion on extending The Legacy Train
FLT supporters listen to the discussion on extending The Legacy Train

FLT Vice President Bruce Dillion began the discussion saying FLT had raised over $72 thousand in about a year to support the trail extension. There are more than 120,000 annual trail users. County Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator Patrick Lui then gave the Commissioners a summary of the Feasibility Study completed by Cardno TBE. Lui asked the Commissioners to (1) approve the Feasibility Study and (2) direct the County Administrator to proceed with land appraisals for the railroad corridor.

Patrick Lui presents the Feasibility Study
Patrick Lui presents the Feasibility Study

A enthusiastic discussion about the trail extension followed. Commissioner Caragiulo: “How do we find ways to do this?” “It absolutely needs to be done.” Commissioner Maio: “ We’ve done some 125 fund raising events, and people say this is the greatest thing the County has ever done.” “This is a top priority.” Commissioner Hines: “Let’s get a contract, subject to an appraisal and any environmental issues.” “Let’s get this moving. Figure out the cost and get the money.” Commissioner Robinson: “Both the North and South trail extensions are important.” “Proceed with appropriate speed. Let’s get going.” She also expressed concern about federal lawsuits on reversionary rights in rail corridor transfers to public use.

Doug Hattaway, Trust For Public Lands
Doug Hattaway, Trust For Public Lands

Doug Hattaway from the Trust for Public Lands was in attendance and was asked to speak. TPL negotiated the purchase of the existing Legacy Trail with CSX, and is involved with similar sales across the U.S. Hattaway urged the Commissioners to proceed with the appraisal to answer the question ‘how much money are you looking for.” He said CSX is open to a purchase proposal. When asked how long would this take, Hathaway replied TPL has a contract template they are using with CSX at other locations. He estimated 2 months to tailer the contract, then 3 months to do the appraisals. The county needed to develop an acquisition strategy and line up possible funding sources.

In addressing funding options, Lui stated that the County staff was pursuing a Federal Tiger Grant, as previously approved by the Commissioners. There are potential federal, state and local funds. Chairman Maio suggested that the proposed changes to local impact fees are a potential funding source. Commissioner Caragiulo said that the trail extension would be a great spine through the county. “I would be looking under every couch, garbage can or cabinet for this money, because it has to get done.” He suggested assigning a full time county employee to work funding opportunities.

FLT and Coastal Cruisers Bike Club members joined forces to support the trail extension
FLT, Coastal Cruisers,Village Idiots, and Sarasota Manatee Bike Club members join forces to support the trail extension

FLT appreciates the firm commitment from the Commissioners to both recommendations. We will continue to gather petitions and speaking engagements to build community support.

A video of the Commissioners discussion is available on the right hand sidebar.

“All aboard The Legacy Trail. Next stop, downtown Sarasota!”