Sarasota County’s Powerpoint Presentation
Legacy Trail Fact Sheet
Sarasota County’s Powerpoint Presentation
Legacy Trail Fact Sheet
by Roger Normand
The Southwest Coastal Trail, which extends from Tampa to Naples and includes the Legacy Trail, is one of seven regional multi-use trails competing for access to $25 million in annual Florida SUN (Shared Use Non-motorized) Trail funding. A recommendation is expected by the Florida Greenways and Trails Council (FGTC) at a public meeting scheduled for March 31, 2016 in Tallahassee.
FLT and our recently formed Trail Extension Committee has focused on promoting the Southwest Coastal Trail and the opportunity to use the funds locally for the extension of the Legacy Trail, as well as to connect the Legacy Trail into part of a much larger interconnected trail network. We are proud to say we helped shape the FGTC selection criteria; FGTC adopted our proposed criteria that the regional alliance “demonstrates broad and persistent community support” for the regional trail system. We believe the Legacy Trail component of the Southwest Coast Trail will score very favorably on this element as well as the other nine criteria.
We have contacted numerous major organizations and local governments urging them to write letters of endorsement to FGTC. The FLT endorsement letter is here and the endorsement letter sent by Sarasota County is here. Representatives from FLT and Sarasota County will be attending the FGTC meeting in Tallahassee to speak on behalf of the Southwest Coastal Trail, and also to learn what other trail pioneers are doing.
The SUN Trail network emphasizes trails of regional importance. We believe we have a strong coalition of supporters for the Southwest Coastal Trail: Executive Directors from the Metropolitan Planning Offices (MPOs) representing Tampa Bay, Sarasota/Manatee, Pasco, Polk, Collier, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando/Citrus, Lee, and Charlotte/Punta Gorda counties have jointly signed a letter of support for the Southwest Coastal Trail. MPOs are required by Federal and state statutes to coordinate regional transportation projects with The Florida Department of Transportation, The Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration.
The Florida legislature in 2015 enacted $25 million annually to promote SUN Trail regional non-motorized trails across the state. The funds are intended to facilitate an interconnected system of multi-use trails by completing gaps between existing trails. The funds come from new vehicle tag revenue. Two Florida departments have leadership roles: the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has management control of the selection process, while the Department of Transportation (FDOT) is the funds holder and construction agent. After construction is completed, a local entity must take responsibility for continued maintenance, repairs, and future improvements.
The Florida legislature established the 21 member FGTC to advise the FDEP and recommend priorities for funding. Eleven members represent trail and greenway users, while the rest are from various Florida agencies. Selection of the Southwest Coastal Trail would also raise our visibility with the Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation (FGTF). Established as a non-profit charitable organization in 2002, FGTF raises private funds to support a statewide system of trails and greenways.
SUN Trail funding is already being used to support the 250 mile Coast to Coast Connector trail, which links St. Petersburg on the west coast to Titusville on the east coast. It will, when completed, be a completely paved trail separate from the road system. Should FGTC select the Southwest Coast Trail for SUN Trail funding, imagine the possibility of cycling on a paved dedicated trail free of cars from Naples through Sarasota to St. Pete’s, and then across the state to Titusville. This 400-mile trail will then be the longest paved, contiguous, non-motorized trail in the country!
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!
by Roger Normand
After some 9 months of “nothing new to report,” the month of February brought a fresh wave of rejuvenating good news to extend The Legacy Trail to Payne Park in downtown Sarasota.
The best news was that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) was terminating efforts to acquire the rail corridor from its owner, CSX Railroad, and returning that process back to Sarasota County.
FDOT efforts, begun last spring, were seen by many as a mixed blessing. It began with word from CSX, not FDOT, that they were ceasing talks with the County amid discussions with FDOT acquiring 100 miles of rail corridor across the state, including The Legacy Trail extension. FDOT later released a brief statement that their interest was to create multi-modal corridors – typically an urban corridor optimized for short and medium trips using transit lines (light rail, express bus) with an adjacent pedestrian and bicycling path. Such corridors have been successfully used in a handful of states, according to Rails to Trails Conservancy. It was considered but not recommended in the March 2015 County commissioned feasibility study to extend The Legacy Trail.
That FDOT has much deeper pockets to acquire the trail and finance construction than the County was viewed by many as a major potential benefit. However, despite periodic requests for updates, FDOT was never forthcoming about their plans. Would The Legacy Trail extension be tied to time consuming conflicts at other locations? Spring turned to summer, which begat fall, then winter. Still no word from FDOT.
Extension advocates were jubilant when the Sarasota County Commissioners unanimously accepted the Feasibility Study on April 1, 2015, and directed the County Executive to begin discussions with CSX and pursue an independent appraisal of the rail corridor. All that momentum was surely slipping away behind closed doors in Tallahasee.
Fortunately, the County Commissioners shared the same concerns, prompting one Commissioner to meet with the FDOT Secretary in Tallahassee in early February. Shortly afterwards, the County confirmed that FDOT “will be terminating their negotiations to acquire the right of way” from CSX. “That shifts the next steps/negotiations back to Sarasota County for the portion that we are seeking.”
It remains unclear what progress, if any, FDOT made in acquiring any unused rail corridors from CSX.
The County is now back in the conductors seat for the trail extension. Hoorah! The County reaffirmed they and partner The Trust for Public Land would promptly restart discussions with CSX. Thank you to the County Commissioners for interceding and getting the extension back on track!
Featured photo courtesy of Sarasota County staff.
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!
by Mark Malkasian
The County Parks Department has given FLT the green light to work on a proposed plan to remodel the house at Osprey Junction Trailhead (OJT) into a Visitor Center. (map). The first phase is developing a proposed plan to remodel the house at Osprey Junction Trailhead Park into a Visitor Center. The plan will then be presented to Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources for review and approval. While the remodel planning wheels are turning for the first phase of the project, we have started an initial cleanup of the landscaping.
On a perfect Tuesday morning, January 19, a team of 18 volunteer members attacked the first round of landscaping improvements at OJT. Lead ably by Ed Wolfenbarger, the vegetation around the main building that we hope will be home to a future Visitor Center was given a thorough, verging on radical, haircut.
We were surprised and pleased to have the former property owners, Mary Ann and Dennis Marlin, join us and enthusiastically contribute. Mary Ann helped in discovering original paths and walkways well hidden under years of detritus. Dennis repaired and re-activated the long dormant water system in the house. We offer a hearty thank you to them both and surely to our Stalwart 18!
More exterior work needs our attention so another volunteer work morning has been scheduled for February 11 from 8:30 to noon. Again, tools will be provided but feel free to bring your favorite landscaping implements. Suggested personal items are sunscreen, work gloves and protective clothing. Water, coffee and snacks will be provided. The house will be open for viewing.
Please contact Mark Malkasian here to confirm participation or if you have questions.
The Dedication Ceremony for Legacy Park will be held on Monday, February 1, 2016 at 10 a.m. The newly constructed Legacy Park is located at 395 E. Venice Avenue, Venice, FL, next to the historic Venice Train Depot. Legacy Park and the restored train are located at the junction of junction of two multi-use paved trails: the 10.6 mile The Legacy Trail and the 10 mile Venetian Waterway Park (5 miles long on each side of the Intracoastal Waterway).
Legacy Park offers multi-use recreational opportunities. A kayak/canoe launch allows access to the wide expanse of the Intracoastal Waterway as well as the more intimate confines of Hatchett Creek. Opting for the latter, paddlers will feel transported back in time as they travel through a dense canopy of native white, red and black mangrove trees and view other natural Florida landscape features. A two station kayak/canoe wash station provides a quick cleanup at journey’s end. There are pervious parking areas for vehicles and boat trailers. The design provides parking spaces while still allowing water infiltration and reducing surface water runoff into the creek.
A wildlife observation platform built next to Hatchett Creek provides up-close viewing opportunities of creek inhabitants and shoreline wetland restoration habitat. Sheltered picnic pavilions are available along with a public restroom and drinking fountain. A handicap-accessible 1/2 mile asphalt nature trail winds through the park with periodic benches along the trail. Stormwater retention ponds are surrounded by native vegetation provide habitat for wading birds and small mammals while improving the water quality flowing into the creek. Visitors are likely to see a diverse mix of birds such as snowy egrets, great egrets, blue heron, tricolored heron and osprey. Picnic pavilions are also available
The city of Venice acquired the ten acre abandoned industrial cement plant site in 2008 for $7.4 million using funds from the voter-approved one-cent sales tax surcharge and a grant from the Florida Communities Trust. The city developed a comprehensive redevelopment plan in coordination with Sarasota County during the intervening years and demolished all the buildings on the site and restoration of the Hatchett Creek shoreline. Just over $2 million was spent on design, permitting and construction of the new park using funds from Sarasota County, Park impact Fees; Land and Water Conservation Fund, Recreational Trails and Florida Coastal Management Programs. Future plans include a train themed covered playground and additional landscaping. Sarasota County will assume all future operations and maintenance needs for the city owned Legacy Park though an inter-local agreement.
by Roger Normand
A new Legacy Park is about to open next to the historic Venice Train Depot, located at 395 East Venice Avenue in the City of Venice, FL. The restored train depot serves as the junction of two Sarasota County multi-use paved trails: the 10.6 mile Legacy Trail and the 10 mile Venetian Waterway Park (5 miles long on each side of the intracoastal waterway).
Legacy Park offers a slew of multi-use recreational opportunities. A kayak/canoe launch allows access to the wide expanse of the intracoastal waterway as well as the more intimate confines of Hatchett Creek. Opting for the latter, paddlers will feel transported back in time as they travel through a dense canopy of native white, red and black mangrove trees and view other natural Florida landscape features. A two station kayak/canoe wash station provides a quick cleanup at journey’s end. There are pervious parking areas for vehicles and boat trailers. The design provides parking spaces while still allowing water infiltration and reducing surface water runoff into the creek.
New storm water retention ponds surrounded by native vegetation provide habitat for wading birds and small mammals and will also help improve water quality flowing into the creek. Visitors are likely to see a diverse mix of birds such as snowy egrets, great egrets, blue heron, tricolored heron and osprey.
A wildlife observation platform built next to Hatchett Creek provides up-close viewing opportunities of creek inhabitants. Sheltered picnic areas dot the area, along with a public restroom and drinking fountain. A handicap-accessible 1/2 mile asphalt nature trail winds through the park.
The city of Venice acquired the ten acre abandoned industrial cement plant site in 2008 for $7.4 million using funds from the voter-approved one-cent sales tax surcharge and a grant from the Florida Communities Trust. The city developed a comprehensive redevelopment plan in coordination with Sarasota County during the intervening years and demolished all the buildings on the site. About $2 million was spent on design, permitting and construction of the new park using funds from Sarasota County, Park Impact Fees; Florida Department of Environmental’s Land and Water Conservation Fund, Recreational Trails Program, and Protection Coastal Management Partnership Programs. Future plans include a train themed covered playground and additional landscaping. Sarasota County will assume all future operations and maintenance needs for the city owned Legacy Park though an inter-local agreement.
The depot already serves as a transit station for the Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) bus station. It also includes a railroad museum with an outdoor caboose set amid picnic benches. Across the still visible remaining railroad tracks lies the Rollins Coakley Railroad Park with its public boat launch to the Intracoastal Waterway and paved trailer parking area. The depot is also the start and finish lines for the annual Tour de Parks bicycle ride sponsored by the Friends of the Legacy Trail.
We are very fortunate that Sarasota County, the City of Venice, and other local communities continue to invest in acquiring, maintaining, and improving a diverse mix of area parks.
by Steve Martin
On Tuesday December 8th the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) provided an update to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) on the plan to build a Legacy Trail bridge over Laurel Road. The meeting was held at the Robert L. Anderson Administration Center in Venice, FL. Ryan Weeks, Project Manager with FDOT made the presentation.
To view the full presentation, click here to go to the county web site page, and then space down and click on Item 66.
Key Points of the Presentation and Discussion:
A comparison of the Chain of Lakes bridge and the most recent rendering of the proposed bridge are shown below:
The proposed bridge on Laurel Road will use the Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil-Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS). This is a relatively new construction technique that should save considerable money over older techniques. The following video gives a good description of the technical details of this system.