“A Jewel Arises Along The Legacy Trail,” by Roger Normand
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.