by Roger Normand and Andrea Seager
The Friends of the Legacy Trail have learned that there is a verbal agreement to new terms between Sarasota County, their partner Trust for Public Land, and CSX Railroad and their lessee Seminole Gulf Railroad, to acquire a portion of an unused rail corridor to extend the Legacy Trail into Downtown Sarasota!
The new agreement replaces previously negotiated terms calling for a two-phased acquisition with $20 million for phase 1 by December 2017 and $18 million for phase 2 by 2019. The County had allocated $8.6 million toward the extension during 2018 budget review sessions earlier this year, but was unlikely to achieve the remaining balance by this December. They asked the Trust for Public Land to renegotiate the terms based on the available funds.
The revised terms apply the available $8.6 million to buy the portion of the rail corridor from the northern terminus of the Legacy Trail at Culverhouse Nature Park, over Clark Road, to Ashton Road with closing in December 2017.
Once purchased, the County can begin applying for development and construction grants, and Friends of The Legacy Trail and our partners can begin fundraising in earnest for the extension.
The parties are working to finalize the revised terms and conditions before submitting it to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) for approval expected later in August.
Stay tuned for further details, including the specific date and time for the BCC meeting. We will need all Legacy Trail Extension supporters to show up in Commission Chambers in their FLT yellow shirts to support this land purchase!
For questions, please do not hesitate to contact us here.
The county has started work today, August 8, to relocate utilities where The Legacy Trail crosses Laurel Road. This work is being done in preparation for building a Legacy Trail bridge over Laurel Road.
The utility relocation work is expected to last approximately three months.
The Legacy Trail intersection crossing Laurel Road will be closed, and trail users will be detoured to cross East of The Legacy Trail at Mission Valley Estates.
For questions, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at (941) 861-5000.
Bay Street, which extends from Tamiami Trail to The Legacy Trail Osprey Junction Trailhead (see map), is going to be extended east, across the trail, to Honore Avenue. The Osprey Junction Trailhead will be closed for construction starting August 2, 2017 and lasting approximately 12 months.
The Legacy Trail will remain open for the entire length of project.
Starting approx. 8/1/17 the port-o-let will be removed from OJT/Legacy Trail intersection. In addition to this, all signs, picnic areas, kiosk and water fountain within the project corridor will be moved or removed and stored until end of construction.
Pedestrian access from the existing Bay St. to the Legacy Trail will remain open but watch for signage as a new temporary access trail will be opened to the north of the existing access trail during road construction.
Other access points to The Legacy Trail are (see map):
- Culverhouse Nature Park: 7301 McIntosh Road Sarasota
- Oscar Scherer State Park: 1843 South Tamiami Trail Osprey
- Laurel Park Trailhead: 509 Collins Road Nokomis
- Nokomis Riverview Park
- Nokomis Community Center: 234 East Nippino Trail Nokomis
- Patriots Park: 800 Venetia Bay Blvd Venice
- Venice Train Depot: 303 East Venice Avenue Venice
For questions regarding the Bay St. Extension Project, please contact Ferdie Barnard at Ferdie.Barnard@stantec.com; 941.225.7600
For questions regarding The Legacy Trail/Osprey Junction Trailhead, contact Megan Donoghue at firstname.lastname@example.org; 941-861-5126
by Steve Martin
Friends of The Legacy Trail has donated a new, more accurate, trail counter to the County Parks Department to monitor traffic on The Legacy Trail. Pictured, Jon Robinson, Division Manager, Natural Area Parks, Preserves and Trails (left), receives the counter from John League, President, Friends of The Legacy Trail (right).
FLT has performed two surveys in the past year to evaluate trail usage and user characteristics. The results of these surveys and analysis were recently used to increase the calculated trail usage from 120,000 to 175,000 users per year. Another finding from these surveys was that the currently-used trail counters are significantly under-counting trail usage. An investigation of alternative counting devices and technology led to the selection of the more accurate Eco-Counter device donated by FLT to the county.
Having accurate data to demonstrate the popularity of The Legacy Trail is very important in seeking financial support for the trail and the trail extension to Sarasota. This activity is currently being performed by both the County Parks Department (Thanks Megan!) and members of FLT. In the trail business the saying is “If we don’t count, we don’t get counted.”
Oscar Scherer State Park is looking to burn along the Legacy Trail on Wednesday (11/2) and or Thursday (11/3) of this coming week and will need to close sections of the trail periodically between 10:00am and 2pm. They hope to keep it at about 10 minute intervals because they are burning right up to the Trail. The map below shows both areas they intend to burn.
by Mark Malkasian
Update: The next OJT cleanup is scheduled for Thursday, January 12, 2017 from 8:30 AM – Noon.
It’s been over six months since our first rounds of landscaping work at Osprey Junction Trailhead Park and overgrowth again threatens to obscure views of the main building that has been nicely re-painted by the County since we last worked the site.
Now that the humidity has moderated this is a call for volunteers for renewal of the “Cut, Rake, Haul & Manicure” effort at our planned Visitor Center. We’re happy to have as our guide, Megan Donoghue our Parks & Rec. Specialist, who has been stocking up on tools and equipment to better arm us for the effort. You are certainly free to bring your favorite landscaping implement and we’ll throw in the camaraderie to make it a fun morning on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 from 8:30 to Noon.
Suggested personal items are sunscreen, work gloves and protective clothing. Water, coffee and snacks will be provided. The proposed Visitor Center will be open for viewing and any suggestions for its transformation will be welcome. So come by, grab a tool and join in for a rewarding morning of giveback to what we hope will be a key feature of the Trail experience. Osprey Junction Trailhead
is at the east end of Bay Street in Osprey next to The Legacy Trail just north of Oscar Scherer State Park. Please contact Mark Malkasian via our contact form or at 941-445- 2890 to confirm participation or if you have questions.
Sarasota County will be installing four bike repair stations on the Legacy Trail and more at other locations in the county. The four proposed locations on the Trail are: Osprey Junction Trailhead, Venice Train Depot, Laurel Park and Central Sarasota Parkway. Installation will begin in November.
The stations are the Bike Fixation Deluxe Public Work Stands. They provide a full complement of repair tools and a bicycle pump with both Schrader and Presta valve connectors. As shown in the picture above, there a two ways of supporting your bike while working on it.
Special thanks to Patrick Lui, County Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Coordinator, for initiating and making this idea happen. Also, thanks to Megan Donoghue, Parks Department, who will be assembling and installing the stations.
The new stations for Sarasota County have arrived and one was on display at the recent Florida Neighborhood Conference held in Venice on October 13:
The last two photos were provided by Darryl Lang. Previous images were from the Bike Fixation web site.
The Florida Bicycling Association presented Friends of The Legacy Trail with its 2015 Trails Promoter of the Year Award at a ceremony on April 27, 2016 as part of the Sarasota County Commissioners meeting. Becky Alfonso, Florida Bicycle Association executive director, presented the award to Chuck Butterfield, FLT president.
by Andrea Seager
Very quietly, without much fanfare, The Legacy Trail has become one of Sarasota’s most important tourist attractions. TripAdvisor.com, one of the world’s largest and most influential travel websites with 375 million monthly visitors has awarded a Certificate of Excellence to Sarasota County’s multi-use Legacy Trail.
Enjoyed by over 120,000 people per year, the trail has been reviewed 335 times with the vast majority of TripAdvisor members granting four or five stars to the 10.6 mile paved path that starts at The Venice Train Depot. Travelers from as far away as Moscow, Jerusalem and London extol the virtues of the flat, easy terrain. Andre D. from Concord, New Hampshire’s comments are typical: “We rented bikes at Real Bikes in Venice right next to the trail. Very reasonable and nice bikes. The trail is fantastic. We had a great ride 20 miles up and back. Plenty of places to rest and get shade. Enjoyable for all levels. Excellent construction of the trail.”
The Friends of The Legacy Trail website includes maps showing parking areas, rest stops, bicycle rentals and a wealth of other information about the Trail. If you haven’t explored it yet, now might be the perfect time to check out Sarasota’s “excellent” Legacy Trail!
Friends of The Legacy Trail will be presenting a program on The Legacy Trail at the Oakwood Manor Home Owners Association (map here) at 1 PM on February 13th, 2016. This presentation should be of particular interest to residents of northern Sarasota County because of the planned extension of The Trail through this area. Everyone is invited to attend. Although this is a gated community, the guard will allow you entry for the presentation.
Click Map to Enlarge
As the above map shows, the planned route along the existing railroad right-of-way will pass near the communities of Oakwood Manor and Pinecraft. In addition, the extension would create the potential for a connecting route to Nathan Benderson Park and the The Meadows trail system using the existing Circus Trail.