A Jewel Arises Along the Legacy Trail

by Roger Normand

legacy park 2-672x504A new Legacy Park is about to open next to the historic Venice Train Depot, located at 395 East Venice Avenue in the City of Venice, FL. The restored train depot serves as the junction of two Sarasota County multi-use paved trails: the 10.6 mile Legacy Trail and the 10 mile Venetian Waterway Park (5 miles long on each side of the intracoastal waterway).

Legacy Park offers a slew of multi-use recreational opportunities. A kayak/canoe launch allows access to the wide expanse of the intracoastal waterway as well as the more intimate confines of Hatchett Creek. Opting for the latter, paddlers will feel transported back in time as they travel through a dense canopy of native white, red and black mangrove trees and view other natural Florida landscape features. A two station kayak/canoe wash station provides a quick cleanup at journey’s end.   There are pervious parking areas for vehicles and boat trailers. The design provides parking spaces while still allowing water infiltration and reducing surface water runoff into the creek.

New storm water retention ponds surrounded by native vegetation provide habitat for wading birds and small mammals and will also help improve water quality flowing into the creek. Visitors are likely to see a diverse mix of birds such as snowy egrets, great egrets, blue heron, tricolored heron and osprey.

legacy park 3-672x504A wildlife observation platform built next to Hatchett Creek provides up-close viewing opportunities of creek inhabitants. Sheltered picnic areas dot the area, along with a public restroom and drinking fountain. A handicap-accessible 1/2 mile asphalt nature trail winds through the park.

legacy park 5-672x504The city of Venice acquired the ten acre abandoned industrial cement plant site in 2008 for $7.4 million using funds from the voter-approved one-cent sales tax surcharge and a grant from the Florida Communities Trust. The city developed a comprehensive redevelopment plan in coordination with Sarasota County during the intervening years and demolished all the buildings on the site.  About $2 million was spent on design, permitting and construction of the new park using funds from Sarasota County, Park Impact Fees;  Florida Department of Environmental’s Land and Water Conservation Fund, Recreational Trails Program, and Protection Coastal Management Partnership Programs. Future plans include a train themed covered playground and additional landscaping. Sarasota County will assume all future operations and maintenance needs for the city owned Legacy Park though an inter-local agreement.

The depot already serves as a transit station for the Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) bus station. It also includes a railroad museum with an outdoor caboose set amid picnic benches. Across the still visible remaining railroad tracks lies the Rollins Coakley Railroad Park with its public boat launch to the Intracoastal Waterway and paved trailer parking area. The depot is also the start and finish lines for the annual Tour de Parks bicycle ride sponsored by the Friends of the Legacy Trail.

We are very fortunate that Sarasota County, the City of Venice, and other local communities continue to invest in acquiring, maintaining, and improving a diverse mix of area parks.

2016 Annual Everglades Ride



For the Benefit of Friends of Fakahatchee and River of Grass Greenway

www.OrchidSwamp.org        www.everglades ROGG.org

Sunday, March 13, 2015

McLeod Park
218 South Copeland Ave
Everglades City

Registration starts at 7:30 am


On-Road Bicycle Rides

Opportunity to customize the distance of your ride available

62 Mile starts at 8:00 am

16 Mile starts at 9:00 am

Off-Pavement Bicycle Ride

A combination of paved and gravel roads, this route goes through the beautiful and wild Janes Scenic Drive in Fakahatchee.

27 Mile starts at 8:30 am

Register online at www.caamevents.com/event/everglades-ride/

$40 includes SAG-supported ride, continental breakfast, snacks, and lunch.
ALSO, a visit to the historic Smallword Store & Museum
$5 early registration discount (<March 4); and $5 discount for FOF and FROGG members.
First child 12 & under:  Free with parent;  Additional child 12 & under: $15

Piggy’s Revenge

Piggy’s Revenge – A race sponsored by Sarasota County Off Road Riders (SCOOR) – Jan 10th, 2016

piggys-revengeOnce a year the members of SCORR host an endurance race on the trails of the T. Mabry Carlton Reserve. Riders get to choose the 20 or 40 mile mountain bike route or the 60 mile epic endurance race. The race courses have varied terrain, are well marked and the MTB path includes 8+ miles of twisty singletrack. This race takes place during the winter season allowing travelers to escape the cold. All racers receive an event t-shirt. Everyone gets to enjoy homemade bratwurst, snacks and cold drinks

For more information and registration click here.

Laurel Road Bridge – FDOT Update to Board of County Commissioners 12-8-15

by Steve Martin

On Tuesday December 8th the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) provided an update to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) on the plan to build a Legacy Trail bridge over Laurel Road. The meeting was held at the Robert L. Anderson Administration Center in Venice, FL. Ryan Weeks, Project Manager with FDOT made the presentation.

To view the full presentation, click here to go to the county web site page, and then space down and click on Item 66.

Key Points of the Presentation and Discussion:

  • Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2016.
  • Estimated construction cost: $2M to $2.8M depending on bids.
  • The Trail will remain open and connected during construction using detours around the construction zone.
  • New design and renderings of the bridge look much better than ones in the original concept. 
  • The new renderings do not show landscaping so that just the bridge appearance could be evaluated.  Commissioners expressed the thought that landscaping would help the appearance and would make the bridge look more like the Chain of Lakes bridge that was originally presented as an example that was favorably received.
  • The bridge will be similar to the Chain of Lakes bridge but not exactly the same.  The Chain of Lakes bridge uses traditional pile and beam construction, whereas the new bridge will use a relatively new construction technique call the  Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil-Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS).  Use of the new technique allows considerable cost savings.
  • There was concern that walkers and bicyclists might choose to not use the bridge and instead cross at street level below the bridge.  To discourage this there will be curbs along the road instead of a smooth transition.  Commissioners strongly recommended that railing also be built to discourage crossing at street level.
  • A new cross walk will be constructed at the Mission Valley light on Laurel Road.  This will provide a route across Laurel Road for people who are unable to cross using the bridge.

A comparison of the Chain of Lakes bridge and the most recent rendering of the proposed  bridge are shown below:

Rendering of Proposed Bridge over Laurel Road
Rendering of Proposed Bridge over Laurel Road
Chain of Lakes Bridge
Chain of Lakes Bridge


[   See: Updated Renderings for Laurel Road Overpass    ]

The proposed bridge on Laurel Road will use the  Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil-Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS).  This is a relatively new construction technique that should save considerable money over older techniques.  The following video gives a good description of the technical details of this system.


Tour de Parks 2016

TdP Announcement


 62, 35, and 20-mile scenic, fun rides!
Start and finish at the historic Venice Train Depot
303 E Venice Ave., Venice, Florida

CaptureEntry fees:
$35 before 2/20/16
$40 before 3/18/16
$45 3/18/16 and after

 Your entry includes breakfast, lunch, rest-stops, SAG support, and a technical Tee shirt for the first 500 participants.  We are excited to be sponsoring this year’s ride with the Sarasota Manatee Bicycle Club, along with past sponsors Friends of Sarasota County Parks and Sarasota County Recreation and Natural Resources.  

You may register for the Tour de Parks with one of the following three methods:

Ride Schedule

Registration Opens
6:30 AM
 Breakfast  6:30 – 8:30
Catered Lunch 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Ride Starts 7:30 AM – 62 miles
8:30 AM – 35 miles
9:30 AM – 20 miles
Rides End 2:00 PM


Packet Pickup

Friday, March 18th
4:00 to 6:00 PM
Bicycles International (1744 Tamiami Trail S, Venice, FL 34293
 Saturday, March 19th
1:00 to 4:00 PM
 Real Bikes (581 US Highway 41 Bypass N, Venice, FL 34285
Sunday, March 20th
From 6:30 AM
Venice Train Depot


Need a Hotel Room the Night Before the Ride?
Bentley’s Hotel is offering Tour de Parks riders a special room rate of $125 for March 19th.  To get the special rate just tell the front desk that you are with Tour de Parks when you make your reservation.


Custom 2016 Tour de Parks jerseys are available from Bespoke Kits.
Click here for more details.

See also:   Ride Brochure     Map of Routes      Sponsor Agreement Form