All posts by Stephen Martin

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

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 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

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.


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.

Click to Enlarge
Current View of the Site

Trail Updates – February 2019

by Megan Eidel, County Trails Coordinator

It’s busy season, and it’s important to follow basic rules and etiquette on the trail. Remember, The Legacy Trail is a multi-use trail. We have cyclists, walkers, roller bladers, parents with strollers, dog walkers and more!

Here are a few of The Legacy Trail’s etiquette policies and rules:

  • Cyclists, always slow down and announce in a loud voice “On your left” before passing other cyclists or pedestrians.
  • The speed limit on the trail is 15 mph. This includes the pedestrian overpasses.
  • Always stop and use crossing signals at road intersections.
  • Cyclists under 16 must wear a helmet.

Together, we can create a safe and enjoyable experience for ALL Legacy Trail users.

Join our Speakers Bureau

The Friends of The Legacy Trail Speakers Bureau is looking for individuals who are comfortable presenting to a wide variety of groups to spread the word and excitement about The Legacy Trail.  Our Speakers Bureau was a very big part of our work to promote the Legacy Trail Extension Referendum by informing Sarasota County Voters about the important facts related to the project.  Although the Referendum has successfully passed, we continue to receive requests from community and neighborhood groups, service and business organizations, etc., to provide speakers to inform their membership about the trail. 

We have an important story to tell about our history as well as the ever-changing plans for the newly approved extension and possible connections to the trail.  Keeping the public informed as we move forward is very important to our mission and helps us honor the support the voters have shown for The Legacy Trail. We have developed a Power Point presentation that helps tell our story and we will provide the equipment and materials for these events. 

Sound interesting?  Need a little more information?  Let us know!  Contact us here. We will work with you to become familiar with the materials and make sure you have all the information you need.

County seeks bond funds for Legacy Trail Extension

Taking the first visible step to implement the will of County voters, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners (BCC) unanimously approved a resolution on January 29, 2019, to seek up to $65 million in new bond funds to finance the extension of the Legacy Trail.  County voters overwhelmingly approved the measure on the November 6, 2018 ballot to extend the trail along the abandoned rail corridor past Payne Park to Fruitville Road in downtown Sarasota, and better connect the city of North Port to the Legacy Trail.

Speaking on behalf of all trail users and advocates, Friends of the Legacy Trail Vice President Louis Kosiba thanked the commissioners for their unwavering support at every key decision point over the last six years for extending the Legacy Trail.  “Thank you for placing this issue before the voters. Thank you for your support to move the Legacy Trail Project along quickly so that citizens and visitors can enjoy a beautiful linear park which will connect the major cities across our county.  I would also like to thank the County’s administrative staff for their dedication and hard work to ensure The Legacy Trail is and will be the premier multi-use trail in Southwest Florida”.

“This is a big deal,” Commission Chairman Charles Hines said. “This is a major step, and I’m very excited we’re moving this forward as quickly as possible.”

The County will seek the bond funds in at least two series.  The County must move quickly to the bond market to secure $30.1 million needed by May 30, 2019 to close on the segment of rail corridor from Ashton Road to Fruitville Road.  This timing is per the August 2017 purchase contract with the Trust for Public Land, which negotiated the acquisition with CSX Transportation on behalf of the County.

The county plans to initially seek a total of $35 million in bonds.  This amount includes $2.0 million to better connect the City of North Port to the Legacy Trail, and $2.9 million to cover the cost of issuing the bond. It also includes funds to hire a planning and design firm for the entire rail corridor from Fruitville Road to Culverhouse Nature Park.  The County purchased the Culverhouse Park to Ashton Road segment in December 2017 under the terms of the same contract.  The County will pursue a second draw of bond funds to begin actual construction.

This is great news on several fronts: the new BCC remains committed to extending the Legacy Trail; they are moving promptly to secure the money to purchase the corridor AND hire professionals to begin the formal design process; it includes the promised $2 million for the North Port connection, even though no decision has been made on the actual route and cost.

Meanwhile, the Trust for Public Land and the County continue with the due diligence review (environmental assessment, title search, boundary survey, resolution of easements) without any showstoppers.  The due diligence must be completed by April 30, 2019 to enable settlement on 30 May, 2019.