Category Archives: Trail News

New Sidewalk Coming to Bay Street

by Todd Logan

The popular Osprey Junction Trailhead will soon reopen with the completion of the Bay Street extension to Honore Ave. Palmer Ranch residents will have a new way to reach the trail, complete with bike lanes and multi-use pathway. One downside, however, is the lack of bike and pedestrian infrastructure on existing Bay Street between the Legacy Trail and U.S. 41. This sleepy narrow street is about to get busy!

A group of Osprey residents, alarmed by impending safety issues from increased Bay Street traffic, decided to do something about it. They raised the issue multiple times before the County Commission. They met with County staff. They engaged their fellow residents in the area. The county quickly agreed to re-stripe the road, add signage, and paint “sharrows” on the street. But a pathway or bike lanes were considered cost prohibitive.

The group, organized as COTS, the Coalition for Osprey Transportation Safety, pressed on. Persistence paid! Commissioners eventually directed staff to find a creative solution. They did. Last week, following a public hearing, the Commission agreed to allow a developer on Englewood’s River Road to construct a Bay Street sidewalk in lieu of their obligation to build a sidewalk adjacent to their new development on River Road, which would connect to nothing and be replaced when the road is widened.

With this agreement, a 5-foot wide sidewalk will now be built along the north side of Bay Street between the Legacy Trail’s Osprey Junction Trailhead and Old Venice Road, offering a safer route for everyone. Completion is expected by February 2019.

Trail Updates – October 2018

Updates from The Trail

by Megan Eidel

Season is upon us!  And I’m sure as people trickle back down south, they will notice changes along The Legacy Trail.

The Laurel Pedestrian Overpass and Bay Street Extension project are moving along. We will see them start to wrap up as we move into fall.

We will be doing sporadic tree work with arborists along to trail the next couple of weeks. When you see work happening on the trail, make sure to slow down and use caution.

Interested in volunteering on the trail? Feel free to reach out to learn about our opportunities!

 

Megan Eidel
Trails Coordinator
Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources
Email: meidel@scgov.net

Trail Updates – August/September 2018

Updates from The Trail

by Megan Eidel

We’ve been keeping busy with maintenance on The Legacy Trail.
Last week, contractors removed a small section of Brazilian pepper just north of the 41 pedestrian overpass. In addition to this, we are working on getting a few benches sand blasted and powder coated.

Next week we will see the start of concrete repair work along both sides of the Venetian Waterway Park. Go slow and use caution, and you may need to go around the project areas. We are also getting our ADA parking areas repainted on 8/27 along the Venetian Waterway Park.

If all goes as planned, in a few weeks we will see the new water fountain at Osprey Junction Trailhead. Big thank you to Friends of The Legacy Trail and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for making that happen!

We are continuing to work on placing material along the shoulder of the trail, and will be picking back up September 11. We are always looking for new volunteers! Trail Ambassadors, Trail Stewards, Surrey Peddlers…interested? Reach out and we can find the best match for your interests!

Megan Eidel
Trails Coordinator
Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources
Email: meidel@scgov.net

Jelks Family Stop Station and Learning Center

The Jelks Family Foundation Donates $22K to FLT

The donation will help sponsor a beautiful new landscaped stop station and learning center to be located in the grassy area just north of the train trestle adjacent to Oscar Scherer State Park.  FLT will also contribute funds for this project.

From Howard Jelks, Director of the Foundation, “Our family is very honored to participate in creating a place where folks using The Legacy Trail can learn about the railroads and native plant communities around them.  Dr. Allen Jelks, Sr. is very active in railroading circles — both in remembering the past and promoting rail travel in the future.  The late Dr. Mary Jelks was an energetic environmental activist who inspired others with her love and passion for natural plant communities”.

We look forward to adding another great amenity to the trail.  Thank you Jelks Family Foundation and all FLT donors who help make projects like this possible.

Here is the concept plan for the new rest facility:

The Fate of the Extension Rests with County Taxpayers

by Roger Normand

Without opposition, and amid a large contingent of yellow shirted Friends of Legacy Trail supporters, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners (BCC) voted unanimously March 14th on a resolution to include a bond referendum on the regular November 6 ballot to extend the Legacy Trail.

If approved by county voters, the referendum would allow the county to borrow up to $65 million to buy another 6.5 miles of unused rail corridor (including spur) to extend the trail to Payne Park and Fruitville Road in the city of Sarasota. The referendum includes funds to allow the county to build the trail – including the portion to Ashton Road purchased by the County in December; trail overpasses at heavily trafficked intersections at Clark and Bee Ridge roads; parking, restrooms and water fountains; and provide funds to better connect the city of North Port to the Legacy Trail.

A key provision: UP TO $65 million.Carolyn Brown, the County’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, told the commissioners that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had included $7.5M SUN Trail funds in their 2022/2023 draft work plan, pending approval in June 2018.  She also said the County had requested another $4.2 million in SUN Trail funds for FDOT to build a trail overpass at Clark Road.  Florida’s SUN Trail program provides $25 million per year for trail construction across the state.  She indicated that any funds received would reduce the amount of bonding.

While $65 million is a large amount – the county estimates it at .08 mil in the ad valorem millage rate – it would amount to an annual tax increase of $16.00 per $200,000 real estate property valuation for 20 years.  We believe that the collaboration of the county, the MPO, city governments and FLT representing the community provide a compelling case for securing SUN Trail and other potential funds that will reduce that amount.

Are the permanent benefits of extending the Legacy Trail – safety for trail users and motorists, enhanced quality of life and property values, opportunities to connect community trails to the Legacy Trail, support for the Safe Routes to School National Initiative , and non-motorized connections to area attractions, worth the cost of dinner once a year at an inexpensive area restaurant?  We think so!  FLT and our partners will continue to engage, inform and convince residents that the Legacy Trail extension is a sound investment in our community.

FLT would like to thank the Commissioners for their action, and thank all of our supporters and trail users who have gotten us to this point.

A rousing 3-day Active Mobility Fest

by Roger Normand

Three events.  Three locations.  Three consecutive days.  A trio of music. food, and vendors.  Five organizations.  All sharing an active mobility theme.  What at weekend!  A big thank you to whoever scheduled three days of spectacularly beautiful Sarasota weather with lots of blue sky, sunshine, and comfortable temps.

Sarasota County led the festivities with the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the opening of the Legacy Trail at an event Friday at Laurel Park in Nokomis.  Board of County Commissioner Chair Nancy Detert commemorated the occasion, with Doug Hattaway of the Trust for Public Land recognizing individuals who championed the effort.

The Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and the City of Sarasota held a Roll and Stroll event Saturday at Payne Park in downtown Sarasota.  Along with promoting cycling/walking, participants were asked to try one of three routes less than two miles long from Payne Park to connect to the Sarasota waterfront and access the Barrier Islands.  While survey data is still being accumulated, it appears the Oak Street route is the clear favorite among participants over the Ringling and Main Street routes.   The latter two featured many businesses but gathering congestion, while Oak street traversed a classic old Florida residential neighborhood leading to Selby Gardens and onto a panoramic vista of Sarasota bay along a multi use regional trail.

The Sarasota/Manatee Bicycle Club and Friends of the Legacy Trail again joined with new sponsor the Trust for Public Land Tour de Parks.  A record number of riders participated Sunday in the 20, 35 and 62 mile scenic routes, fueled by breakfast from First Watch, and lunch by Mattison’s.  Event pics are available for viewing here.

It’s Official! Legacy Trail Extension Referendum Now on Fall General Election Ballot

Carolyn Brown, head of Sarasota County’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources, addresses the County Commissioners about The Legacy Trail Extension. The Commissioners unanimously approved including a referendum on the trail extension funding in the November general election.

Click here for video of Carolyn Brown’s presentation to the county commissioners on the funding referendum.

Click here for Herald-Tribune article.

 

FDOT Proposes $7.5M for Legacy Trail Extension

by Roger Normand

Just as we were publishing the previous newsletter we learned that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had included $7.5M in its 2022 – 2023 work plan to support actual construction of the Legacy Trail extension to Ashton Road.  This is the fruit of several years of efforts by the County, the MPO, FLT and other supporters to secure Florida SUN Trail funds.  (Florida provides $25M per year for trail building efforts across the state).

A BIG “THANK YOU” TO FDOT.  This is a vote of confidence in the County plans, since FDOT took this action before the County actually took title to the land.  Though scheduled later than desirable, funding can be accelerated if the construction is “shovel ready” and other projects are delayed.

We believe FDOT’s commitment underscores our view that the County’s providing the first funds for the extension will attract other governmental and private funds.

Gratitude in 2017 – Optimism for 2018

by Roger Normand

As 2017 came to a close, two words sum the view of most people when asked about efforts to extend the Legacy Trail:
GRATITUDE for the County buying a nearly 3 mile segment of abandoned rail corridor from CSX Transportation, Inc. in December; and OPTIMISM for a planned County-wide voter referendum in November 2018 to buy  the remaining rail corridor to downtown Sarasota, build a complete, paved trail with two overpasses and amenities, and help better connect North Port to the Legacy Trail. That gratitude was compounded with elation following news that FDOT had included $7.5M  in a future budget to support the extension.

FLT has now started its private fund raising “Square Foot” Campaign, raising over $24,000 in just a few weeks.  All funds will be used exclusively for construction and amenities along the extension.  We are hopeful that our partner local foundations will also find generous philanthropist willing to contribute substantial sums to the construction effort. We also believe that having purchased a segment of corridor, and having the remaining segment under contract, will now make us much more competitive for other state and federal funds.

As all of this transpires, the trail becomes ever more popular.  While final numbers aren’t available yet, we predict well over 200,000 annual trail uses for 2017, compared to 175,000 in 2016.

As we begin 2018, we are thrilled that there is a clear path to extend the Legacy Trail to downtown Sarasota, and create a better connection to it from North Port.  That path would link the two largest population centers of the county.  AND, It can all happen in the matter of a relatively few short years.

With the start of the new year, we have already begun expanding our advocacy efforts to prepare for the referendum next fall.  We are holding information tables at Farmers Markets in North Port, Venice, Sarasota, Phillippi Creek.  We are also exploring other high pedestrian volume opportunities to engage the public on the benefits of the extension.

County Buys Extension Segment to Ashton Road

by Roger Normand

Break out the bubbly.  Release the multi-colored balloons.  Strike up the band.  Welcome to the future addition to the Legacy Trail now reaching to Ashton Road!

Friends of the Legacy Trail is thrilled to report that Sarasota County, with their partner the Trust for Public Land, yesterday completed the purchase of an approximate 3 mile (with spur) segment of the now officially abandoned rail corridor from CSX Transportation, Inc.  Click here for the joint County/TPL press release.

Yes, the Ashton Road segment of the Legacy Trail Extension may not be as gussied up as the current trail.  Yes, it may not now be as smooth a surface, with the rails and ties still in place, and overgrown vegetation blocking portions.  And yes, it’s just county property, not yet officially on the county books as part of the Legacy Trail.  But all of that will surely come in time.

This is a HUGE step forward for safer, multi-use trails in our community.  A big, hearty THANKS goes out to:

•    The County Commissioners – current members Chair Nancy C. Detert, Vice Chair Charles D. Hines, Alan Maio, Paul Caragiulo, Michael A. Moran, and former commissioners Carolyn Mason and Christine Robinson for unanimously embracing the extension effort throughout the last four years at every milestone, finding the money in the budget to buy this first segment, and planning for a referendum next year to buy the second segment to Payne Park and build the trail;

•    The Trust for Public Land, and their point man Doug Hattaway for helping negotiate the terms of sale;

•    The County Staff, from county administrator, department heads, to the many staff, all of whom tirelessly performed the necessary reviews and actions;

•    And a special note of gratitude to our 1,000 + FLT members, our hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers, the many business partners, our charitable partners the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, and the 10,000+ individuals who signed our petition supporting the extension.

There are many ways you can show your continued support for this effort:

•         Contribute to our square foot campaign below (shameless plug – it’s a great holiday stocking stuffer, certificate worthy of memorabilia, tax deductible, 100% of proceeds support the extension);

•         Take a picture of yourself by the new sign we’ve posted at the end of the paved trail by Culverhouse Nature Park and send it to us at friends@friendsofthelegacytrail.org for posting on our social media and website.

•         Invite us to bring our new Extend the Legacy Trail presentation to your business, HOA, or group;

•         Spread the word to your family, friends, and others;

•         Coming soon: sponsorship, commemorative contributions for benches, kiosks, shelters, as well as naming rights for portions or the entire trail. 

Up next is the planned November 2018 referendum.  We will be talking about that in future mailings.

But for now, buying the first segment of rail corridor is an immense win.  Let’s celebrate the REALITY that the Legacy Trail extension is happening….NOW.