President’s Corner – December 2018

From the President –

Thanksgiving is a time to express thanks. I’m honored to serve as the President of FLT, and thankful for the 12 other members of your Board of Directors. Each is passionate, bright, diligent, energetic, and self-motivated. They selflessly volunteer their time and energy to “support, promote, enhance, and protect The Legacy Trail and its connectors now and for future generations.”

I’m thankful for the unwavering support of local governments and their staff to embrace and value the many benefits to our community for a longer trail.

I’m thankful for the incredible efforts put forward by our volunteers and supporters who worked tirelessly for years to advocate for the extension.

I am most thankful for the 137,853 (71%) Sarasota County voters who not only agreed that investing in a multi-use, non-motorized trail connection between Sarasota and North Port was a worthy goal, but were willing to tax themselves to pay for it. You are each honorary Friends of the Legacy Trail members (we welcome you to join our 1,000 dues paying members)!

We have been singularly focused on advocacy for the extension. With funding now guaranteed, we will now chart a new set of FLT priorities to guide us for the next few years. The overwhelming margin of support gives us a strong “trail wind.” I’d welcome your suggestions on how we proceed. Contact me here.

Roger Normand, President
Friends of The Legacy Trail

It’s a Go!!!!

by Roger Normand, President FLT

Legacy Trail lovers, we are on our way to extending our beloved trail to the city of Sarasota and improved connectivity to North Port!

Surprising even the most optimistic Legacy Trail supporters, the Sarasota County-wide ballot issue garnered an ASTOUNDING 71% YES vote for a $65 million bond to extend the trail, sweeping 100 of 101 county precincts! That’s remarkable in a county that prides itself with keeping tax rates among the lowest in the state of Florida. Yet at every decision point, dating back to August 2013 when the county and Friends of the Legacy Trail (FLT) jointly funded a Feasibility Study, the Commissioners have methodically and unanimously endorsed taking the next step forward in pursuing the extension.

County residents emphatically reaffirmed the Commission’s actions by agreeing this was a worthy investment to improve safety, enhance health and quality of life, and provide substantial economic benefits to our community!

Such a massive win at the ballot box does not come without a herculean advocacy effort from your FLT Board, volunteers, and a growing network of supporters. We are also grateful for the efforts of the Trust for Public Lands (TPL). As a 501(c)(3), we were limited by law in promoting VOTE YES for the referendum. TPL established a political committee with individuals from across the political spectrum who were recognized and respected in the community. They raised funds, sought endorsements, and ran the Vote Yes campaign.

We also forged key alliances with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, and Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Implementation efforts have already started, with county planning processes and the contractual due diligence review of the corridor underway. North Port Commissioners are excited to proceed.

As an often-heard local commercial proclaims, THIS IS A HUGE win for our community.

We will keep you informed through the future planning and implementation efforts!

Trail Updates – December 2018

WHAT’S HAPPENING ON THE TRAIL?
by Megan Eidel, County Trails Coordinator

I hope everyone is having a great holiday season. The trail is picking up as people are coming back into town. Remember to be courteous of other users and slow down and use caution in the construction areas.

The Laurel Pedestrian Overpass should wrap up before the end of December. As previously mentioned, the light at Laurel Rd./Legacy has been removed. Users are asked to follow the detour and use the crossing at the Mission Valley light.

Bay Street Extension is still scheduled to wrap up sometime soon. I don’t have a specific date. Please use caution and go slow over the intersection as this is still a construction area. Remember, eventually this will be a signaled intersection that will have cars passing through, so take your time. They are working on installing the push button, similar to the one at Central Sarasota Parkway.

We are continuing to do tree work along the trail to lift the canopy and are continuing work on the shoulder shell placement.

Again, thank you all for your patience with the construction these past months! We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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

Bridge Photo by Darryl Lang

Trail Updates – November 2018

Updates from The Trail

Everyone is asking about the two construction projects along the trail. I think we are in the home stretch!

The Laurel Pedestrian Overpass should be open to users by the end of November. This doesn’t mean the entire bridge project will be complete, as they will be rehabbing the area on the ground where the detours run. The next step in the project will be installing the roll cage on the top of the bridge. Laurel Road will also have a few nighttime closures in the beginning of November.

Bay Street Extension is still scheduled to wrap up sometime in November. I don’t have a specific date. Please use caution and go slow over the intersection as this is still a construction area. Remember, eventually this will be a signaled intersection that will have cars passing through, so take your time. I’m not sure if you’ve seen, but the water fountain at OJT has been installed. There’s one more step needed before it’s “live”, but it should be up and running soon.

Thank you all for your patience with the construction these past months!

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

Bridge Photo by Darryl Lang

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 a 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

Tour de North Port 2018

The 9th Annual Tour de North Port
Sponsored by People for Trees, Inc.

Registration is now open for this fun, organized, on-road scenic bicycle ride that features routes of 15, 35, or 65 miles that highlights North Port’s most natural settings and the parks that border the Myakkahatchee Creek with each route having its own color-coded road markings.  Click Here for more information and registration.

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:

Friends of The Legacy Trail