by Roger Normand
The Florida Greenway and Trails Council (FGTC) adopted a criterion proposed by FLT for eligibility to $25 million per year funding enacted by the 2014 Florida Legislature to fund a statewide network of paved and non-paved trails known as the SUN Trail! We proposed, and FGTC agreed, to include a new criterion that a candidate project “demonstrate broad and persistent community support.” Interestingly, FGTC lists our recommended criterion first among their 10 criteria.
SUN Trail is an acronym for Shared-Use Non-motorized trail network that will link gaps between existing multi-use trails in the Florida Greenway & Trails System (FGTS). The Florida legislature directed two Florida agencies – DOT and the Environmental Protection Office of Greenways to work together on eligibility criteria and award funds.
Why is this important? It’s a potential funding source for the extension of The Legacy Trail!
It seemed like a no-brainer to us. Why invest in building a new trail without evidence of depth and breath of community support?
It should come as no surprise that FLT believes The Legacy Trail extension would score very well on this new criterion! With the unanimous endorsement of the Sarasota Commissioners to pursue extending The Legacy Trail, the 120,000 estimated annual users of the existing The Legacy Trail, the 5,000+ and growing number of petitions FLT accumulated so far, and other actions undertaken by FLT, we believe we can be very competitive for SUN Trail funding to support the extension effort. The Legacy Trail is a component of the FGTS, and the extension is listed as a trail gap.
We are entering a critical stage for the extension: an independent appraisal will establish a monetary value for the rail corridor. That appraisal will be a benchmark for the County/TPL to negotiate a purchase price from CSX.
Once the parties agree on a purchase price, it’s good to know that one potential funding source is SUN Trail funding. And that FLT helped to raise the odds in favor of The Legacy Trail!