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@
• 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.