by Sharon Donovan
In November 2018, a $65 million bond referendum passed to extend the Legacy Trail north to Payne Park and south for a connector to North Port. Of the $65 million, $2 million has been earmarked for the North Port connector.
On October 2, Sarasota County and the City of North Port held a joint commission meeting to review the connector plans. Three routes had been under consideration, according to Sarasota County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Director Nicole Rissler, who made a presentation to the commissioners. One was through the Carlton Reserve and two were through Deer Prairie Creek Preserve. Following a comprehensive environmental impact assessment that took into consideration water flow, impacts to wildlife, and other factors, the county determined that a route in Deer Prairie Creek Preserve that parallels I-75 and then heads south to intersect with West Price Boulevard would be the favorable route for a paved Legacy Trail–like experience. Ultimately all three routes will be available to the public but the other two are natural-surface trails.
The connector route from the Legacy Trail itself will start on the trail in Nokomis and run east along Florence Street, Edmondson Road, Border Road, and South Moon Drive (a mix of roads, bike lanes, sidewalks, and multi-use trails) until it connects to Forbes Trail and on into Deer Prairie Creek Preserve. A map can be seen here.
Commissioners from the city and county reached a consensus on their support for this route with North Port Mayor Debbie McDowell describing the route’s natural beauty and saying it would be an asset to the community. County staff made a follow-up presentation to the residents of North Port on October 15, informing them of the new developments and taking into consideration their feedback. Preliminary plans for the route are expected by the end of 2019.
In addition to the bond funds, a generous $33,500 grant from the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF) has been earmarked to help develop the infrastructure required to connect the Legacy Trail connector to the City of North Port, demonstrating national and local support for this project. The infrastructure may include trailhead facilities or bridges needed to cross drainage canals.
“From TPL’s perspective, we support a statewide greenway and trail network, which is basically composed of numerous regional and local interconnected trails. With our work supporting the Legacy Trail and its extension during the [2018 referendum] campaign, we maintained the importance of realizing a county-length trail from the city of Sarasota to North Port. As the bulk of the referendum funding was to finance the northern extension, TPL also wanted to maintain attention to completing the southern extension. Following through with a private investment in the connector is an effective way to demonstrate our commitment,” said Doug Hattaway, senior project manager at the Trust for Public Land, a national parks and public lands advocacy group.
“We viewed this North Port connector grant in a similar vein to the grant we made for the advanced work on the northern trail link to downtown Sarasota. Often government budgets are set well before surveying and engineering needs are identified. This type of private-sector funding offers greater flexibility and the ability to respond quicker than government funding. Additionally, private-sector cooperative funding demonstrates support and confidence to policy makers and the public for the Legacy Trail extensions,” said Jon Thaxton, senior vice president for community investment at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, based in Sarasota County.
Friends of The Legacy Trail is grateful to TPL and GCCF for this generous grant and we thank Doug Hattaway and Jon Thaxton for their work on this effort.
Please continue to visit our website for updates on this connector, or sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media for breaking news.
Interactive Map of Potential Routes
The route from the Legacy Trail along Edmondson Road and Border Road is on paved roads with a combination of bike lanes, a 1-mile multi-use trail section, road shoulders, and sidewalks. The South Power Line Trail through Carlton Reserve is currently available as a nine-mile packed-surface trail; it is currently primitive and there are few amenities. The route through Deer Prairie Creek Preserve is essentially impassable after getting off the paved South Moon Drive and Forbes Trail. There are some packed-surface trails, but they are primitive. Please visit the Sarasota County parks website for more information on the Carlton Reserve and Deer Prairie Creek Preserve, which includes more detailed maps and information.
Description of Northern Route
(Southern Route is the Same Through Mile 6.51)
|Suitability||Bicycle, Walking (section on Border Road is mostly a bike lane on both sides of the road)
|0||Park at Nokomis Community Park and take The Legacy Trail a short distance to Colonia Ln E crossing. Go left (east) on Colonia Ln E 0.68 mi to Albee Farm Rd. S. There is a bike lane and sidewalk on both sides of the road.
Alternate: Go an additional 0.25 miles north on The Legacy Trail and exit the trail at the wooden bridge on the right. This leads to Florence St, which you can take to Albee Farm Rd and go straight onto Edmonson Road.
|0.68||Left on Albee Farm Rd. Bike lane and sidewalk on both sides of road.
|0.93||Right on Edmondson Road.|
|1.90 to 2.94||Pinebrook Rd. Intersection – continue on Edmondson Road. There is now a 10-foot-wide multi-use trail on the south side of the road on this section.
|2.94||N. Auburn Rd intersection – continue straight. Road changes name to Border Rd. Sidewalks end.
|3.07||Bridge over I-75. Paved shoulders on both sides of road for next 3.44 miles.
|6.51||Left on Mabry Carlton Pkwy. Border Rd becomes a gravel road at this intersection.
|6.85||Right at Carlton Reserve sign onto gravel road.|
|7.42||Left at T
|7.84||Right on South Power Line Trail
|16.44||Bridge over Myakkahatchee Creek into Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port|