All posts by Stephen Martin

From the President – June 2019

I’d like to take a moment to thank the FLT Board members for their amazing passion, insight, and drive to support our beloved Legacy Trail in the last year.  We achieved an incredible victory with 71 percent voter support to spend $65 million to extend the Legacy Trail to downtown Sarasota and better connect the city of North Port to the Legacy Trail.  Extension efforts are well underway! 

The FLT board has embraced new long range goals.  We have contributed substantial improvement to the existing trail, e.g., a new water fountain at Osprey Junction Trail head, funded relocating the Legacy Trail road sign from Laurel Road to Bay Street, planning and funding a new rest stop by the trestle at Oscar Scherer, reduced our operating costs by eliminating the need for rented storage space. 

I also want to thank all the FLT members and volunteers who support our organization with their funds and volunteer their time to support the trail.  As a six-month snowbird from Maine, it is very challenging to remain engaged in all the FLT moving parts from a distance of 1,600 miles away.  Our Vice President, Louis Kosiba has agreed to assume the role of President, and I will take his position as Vice President. 

FLT Organizes Commissioner Tours of the North Port Connector Route Alternatives

by Roger Normand

Friends of the Legacy Trail sponsored two tours in May for Sarasota County and City of North Port commissioners to view and experience two alternative routes from the Legacy Trail in Venice to North Port. 

As part of the passage of the referendum, $2 million will be put toward a connector route. Both routes currently being considered rejoin at the eastern end of Border Road. The alternatives include:

  • Entering the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and enhancing the existing nine-mile packed-surface South Power Line Trail to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port.
  • Continuing along the lightly used paved South Moon Drive and Forbes Trail into Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and Schewe Ranch and creating a new three-mile paved or packed-surface trail to West Price Boulevard in North Port.   

While the County has made commendable progress to prepare the bonding documents to secure funding and develop its plans and requirements for design and engineering support to extend the Legacy Trail to Sarasota, progress on route selection for the North Port connection has not been as proactive. For example, there has been no effort to develop a cost analysis on the routes.

In Deer Prairie Creek Preserve. From left to right: North Port Commissioner Jill Luke, Sarasota County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Director Nicole Rissler, Friends of The Legacy Trail Board Director Roger Normand, and Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines.

In organizing the tour, FLT wanted to bring visibility to and promote dialog on the unique opportunities and challenges with both routes. FLT created an objective list of the pros and cons of each route, which were presented to the commissioners for consideration during the tour. We invited all County and City commissioners, and four participated: County Commissioner Charles Hines rode with City Commissioner Jill Luke on the first tour, while County Commissioner Christian Ziegler rode with North Port Vice Mayor Debbie McDowell on the second tour. We worked with County staff to arrange for the necessary four-wheel-drive vehicle for the rough terrain, and coordinated with park managers from the Carlton Reserve and Deer Prairie Creek Preserve who drove the vehicles and provided valuable insights on park conditions. 

On the Carlton Reserve South Power Line Trail. From left to right: Sarasota County Natural Areas and Trails Division Manager Jon Robinson, Sarasota County Commissioner Christian Ziegler, North Port Vice Mayor Debbie McDowell, Friends of the Legacy Trail Board Director Roger Normand, Friends of the Legacy Trail North Port Coordinator Sharon Donovan.

Everyone was grateful for the opportunity to get an on-the-ground perspective. Vice Mayor McDowell perhaps said it best: “I am so glad I took the tour…. Seeing the trail path, in person, gave me a unique perspective compared to just a line on a map. THANK YOU.”

FLT will soon be providing the County and City with our recommendations. The County and City will ultimately make the decision, based on costs, environmental impacts, feasibility, and a number of other factors, and there will be public comment periods to inform the communities of their plans. As always, FLT welcomes input from our members and we are in need of volunteers in North Port who can help us enhance and support the connector route. Either one of the routes will provide a beautiful natural experience for cyclists and others.

Trail Extension News – June 2019

by Roger Normand

Looking North to Downtown Sarasota

We are on the cusp of realizing a remarkable milestone to extend the Legacy Trail to downtown Sarasota.  Suddenly, unbelievably, our vision for a paved, multiuse path along the abandoned, unsightly rail corridor that stretches from Culverhouse Nature Park to Payne Park and Fruitville will, by the end of this month, become County property.  That’s a critical precursor to proceeding with the design and engineering of the trail extension.  Our six year quest, capped by the astounding support of 71 percent of County voters during the November 2018 referendum to extend the Legacy Trail IS REALLY HAPPENING!

Much has been going on behind the scenes to proceed with the purchase:      

  • The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Sarasota County completed their due diligence review (environmental assessment, title search, boundary survey, leases and encroachment issues). All concerns were resolved satisfactorily.
  • The County completed its competitive solicitation process and selected Kimley-Horne and Associates for design and engineering support for the extension.  The County is now finalizing the scope of work, which will include cost analysis and design for the North Port connection.  The contract is expected to be submitted to the County Commissioners by July 10 for approval.
  • On June 4, the County will be selling $37 million in general obligation bonds (of the $65 million authorized in the referendum) to purchase the rail corridor and pay for initial design and engineering of the trail extension.  It also includes $2 million for the North Port connection.  Contact your financial institution if you’d like to hold some of these bonds in your portfolio!
  • The County and Florida Department of Transportation have agreed to realign $8.5 million in FL SUN Trail funds provided for the extension to Ashton Road.  FDOT will retain the funds and now be responsible for the design, bidding and construction of both the Bee Ridge and Clark Road overpasses.  This resolves a timing issue (the SUN funds were programmed in 2022/2023), and allows the County to proceed with the immediate design and accelerated construction of the flat trail.  The design and construction of the Clark Road trail overpass is particularly  complicated: FDOT plans to simultaneously straighten the McIntosh Road intersection so the overpass carries trail uses across both Clark and McIntosh Roads.
  •   We can expect TPL and the County to close on the purchase from CSX ~ June 25, with a public event celebrating the milestone a few days later.  We plan to mobilize our FLT member “yellow shirt brigade” at the event.  We will issue an email blast once the County finalizes the timing and location. 

Trail supporters, June will truly be a remarkable month.

Trail Extension Project Expedited!

by Steve Martin

Thanks to very diligent work by the county commissioners, county staff, and FDOT, the projected schedule for the northern extension has been considerably expedited. It is now estimated that the ground level trail (excluding highway overpasses) will be completed in 2022! (The previous estimate for completion, including overpasses, was December 2024.)

Change of plans:  FDOT will now pay for and build the overpasses for Clark and Bee Ridge Roads.

  • Previous Plan:  FDOT was to give the county $1M for the Clark Road overpass design, and $7.5M in fiscal year 2022-2023 to help with construction of the Phase 1 part of the trail (current northern terminus to Ashton Rd).  This meant that Phase 1 construction could not be started until 2023.
  • The New Plan:  Instead of giving the above $8.5M to the county, FDOT will pay for the design and construction of the overpasses over Clark and Bee Ridge roads.  The county will now pay for all construction of the ground level trail. This removes the restriction on when Phase 1 construction can begin.  There are several segments to the extension that have been identified and the order in which the segments will be completed will be addressed by the design firm.  FDOT does not have a schedule for completing the overpasses at this time.

The county has received approval from the Federal Surface Transportation Board to use the rail corridor as a trail.

The county expects to sign a contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. for design of the trail, which will include a study of the cost of routes to North Port, by June 5.

It is anticipated that the county will close on the purchase of rail corridor on or before June 30th.

Note: You may sign up to receive extension updates by email from the county on this page.
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Trail Extension News – May 2019

by Roger Normand

In conducting its due diligence, the Trust for Public Land and the County have discovered numerous encroachments into the rail corridor by adjacent residential property owners. 

The Board of County Commissioners (BCC) on April 23rd unanimously approved extending the diligence phase from April 30 to May 21.  This may similarly delay, but not jeopardize, the 30 May settlement date to acquire the rail corridor from Ashton Road to Fruitville Road. 

The BCC previously had unanimously approved proceeding to issue up to $37 million in County general obligation bonds, and adopt internal management actions to acquire and manage the extension project.

Sharky’s Ride the Beaches 2019

Sharky’s Ride the Beaches Celebrates 17 Years
SCENIC BIKE RIDE WITH A HUGE HEART

Sunday, April 28, Venice, Florida

Cyclists from near and far will be traveling to Sharky’s in Venice
on 28th to be a part of THE bike event of the season – Sharky’s Ride the Beaches. Celebrating it’s 16 th year, Ride the Beaches has a rich history of giving back to the community. This year the ride
will support three charities:

  • Team Tony, a local Sarasota based foundation helping, hands on those going though cancer treatment and their families.
  • Friends of the Legacy Trail, dedicated to the maintenance and expansion of Sarasota County’s best cycling asset, the Legacy Trail Park.
  • Livestrong Foundation, helping people nationwide finding the resources and strength to fight cancer.

In 2018 Ride the Beaches hosted 1,300 cyclists and raised over $37,000 for charity. Over the past 16 years, Ride the Beaches has donated $292,000 to charity. The owners and employees of Sharky’s, as well as community members, donate their time to this event. Every penny over cost is donated

All riders will start the day with complimentary breakfast on the beach at Sharky’s consisting of fresh fruit, juice, bagels, fruit bread, and coffee. All rest stops will be stocked with water, sports drink, fresh fruit, snacks and/or sandwiches. After riders work up a sweat, they will be able to sit back, relax and enjoy a delicious BBQ lunch complete with beer, smack dab on the beach at Sharky’s

Riders will have the choice of three scenic bike rides – 15, 35 or 70 mile rides. The 15 mile ride stays on the island of Venice, with an optional extra 4 miles that goes off the island, on the Venetian Waterway Trail. This ride is suitable for almost anyone with a bike and a desire to see some of the most beautiful spots on the Island of Venice. You will ride to Casperson Beach and access the Waterway trail. After riding the trail to the north side of Venice you will ride low traffic roads to the Venice Yacht Club for a rest stop. From there you will meander through residential side streets back to Sharky’s. The 35 mile ride will take you over the Intercostal waterway to the neighborhood streets of south Venice. You will cross the intercostal waterway again, and have your first rest stop. Now ride down beautiful Manasota Key. In some places you will be so close to the beach, you have to watch for sand in the road. After returning on the key you will hit the rest stop again and head back to Venice, this time using the Venetian Waterway
Trail part of the way.

The 70 mile ride will follow the 35 milers for the first half. After Manasota Key the ride will head east through horse farm country. There will be a rest stop along the Myakka River. From there we head west again and will pick up The Legacy Trail. We will ride the trail up to the next rest stop sponsored by The Friends of The Legacy Trail and then to Casey Key for more riding along the beach, ending at Sharky’s for lunch.

Online registration is available at www.registersharkysride.com. The cost to participate is $45. Sharky’s on the Pier, Smack Dab on the Gulf, is located at 1600 Harbor Dr. South in Venice (1.4 miles south of Venice Avenue). Call (941) 488-1456 or visit their website for more information at www.sharkysonthepier.com.

2019 Tour de Parks shatters previous record participation

by Roger Normand

They gathered in the predawn Florida cold (60 degrees Fahrenheit) darkness at the Historic Venice Train Depot.   Vehicles guided by volunteers to designated parking areas.   Bicycles dismounted from their carrier.  Final ABC safety check: “A” for Air in tires, OK; “B” for Brakes, OK. “C” for Cranks and Chains, OK.  A quick healthy bit of fuel consisting of yogurt, muffins, fruit, OJ and coffee graciously provided by sponsor First Watch restaurant.  A final potty call.

Event Director Bud Gaunce called out “Ride safely, ride courteously, and enjoy the ride.”

And as the sun peaked over the horizon, bringing the light and warmth of day, the first wave of 62 milers on the 2019 Tour de Parks launched north on the Legacy Trail.  The 35 and 21 milers followed later in the morn.

950 riders signed up for the event, shattering last’s year’s record of 750!  It all went very smoothly, thanks to detailed planning efforts and dedicated volunteers before, during, and cleanup after the ride.

True to its name, riders traversed parks along the Legacy Trail, venturing to Urfer, Rothenbach Parks.  Rowers could be seen honing their skills as riders circled Benderson Park, site of international rowing competitions. Ocean vistas and dream homes line the newly paved route along Casey Key.

The Tour de Parks is a key fund raising event by both the Friends of the Legacy Trail and the Sarasota-Manatee Bicycle Club.  About 100 volunteers help support the ride, along with area bicycle shops providing SAG support for mechanical issues.  This year’s ride, like most previous year’s, was graced with light winds, low humidity, mostly blue sky, near perfect low 80s temperature.  Perfect for hesitant riders trying their first cycling event, to seasoned cyclist using this as a first of the season’s long distance rides.  A hearty lunch provided by Mattison’s greeted those at the finish line.

Thanks to all who participated.  And a special thanks to all the FLT and SMBC volunteers who make this event possible.  See more FLT and SMBC volunteer opportunities.

Friends of Osprey Junction Trailhead to hold community garage sale on April 6

Sponsored by Friends of Osprey Junction Trailhead (FOJT), a community garage sale is scheduled for Saturday, April 6, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park. All proceeds will go toward the Visitor Center Project, a partnership with the Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department. It is designed to improve the structure in the park for public use

Donations sought for event, with proceeds going toward Visitor Center Project. The FJOT is accepting donated items for the sale. Items may be dropped off on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to noon at the house in the park.

Map

FLT Monthly Meeting – Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Please join us for our monthly membership meeting. The meeting will be held in the Edson Keith Mansion at Phillippi Estate Park, 5500 Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. The social time begins at 6:00 and there will be appetizers, desserts and drinks (coffee, sparkling and still water). The meeting begins at 6:30.

This month’s meeting will feature recognition of our many volunteers who have helped promote The Legacy Trail.

New South Creek Stop Station and Learning Area

by Darryl Lang

“The South Creek Stop Station and Learning Area” is being created at South Creek adjacent to Oscar Scherer State Park. Funding from the Jelks Family Foundation and Friends of The Legacy Trail is making this project possible.   The area will include a bench, bike rack, kiosk, viewing area for the historic railroad trestle, various Florida native trees and plants and an official Sarasota County historical marker explaining the significance of the railroad to our community. Trail users will be able to view the historic railroad trestle, learn about Florida native plants and relax in a natural, enjoyable setting.

Phil Smith, Darryl Lang, and Kate Johnston

Phil Smith, State Licensed Landscape Architect, and Kate Johnston, Landscape Designer, from DWJA Landscape Architects have donated their time and expertise to create a site and construction plan. Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources staff have also been working on the design. Friends of The Legacy Trail will be managing the project. Darryl Lang, FLT Board Member, has worked tirelessly to get this project accomplished.  Construction should begin in a few months.

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