The Legacy Trail South Creek Stop Station and Learning Area is Now Officially Open

A celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony were held on Friday November 15 to mark the official opening. We hope all trail users will enjoy this new trail amenity sponsored by the Jelks Foundation and Friends of The Legacy Trail. See map here for location.

Darryl Lang cuts the ribbon. Darryl is the FLT board member who initiated and coordinated this project. Thanks Darryl and all who contributed!

2019 Tour de North Port

10th Annual Tour de North Port, Sunday, October 20.

Registration – now open for this annual fun, organized, on-road scenic bicycle ride with routes of 15, 35, or 65 miles. Travel through some of North Port’s most beautiful, natural settings: Florida pine flatwoods & parks that border the Myakkahatchee Creek –each route has its own color-coded road markings. Sponsored by People for Trees. More info and registration here.

“Race to Completion” Begins for Next Phase of The Legacy Trail

by Jay Castle
June 28, 2019

Unveiling of The Legacy Trail Extension bond. From left to right: Sarasota County Commissioners Michael Moran, Nancy Detert, and Charles Hines, and Nichole Rissler, Director of Sarasota County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources

On your mark…get set…GO! Officials from Sarasota County, City of Sarasota, City of North Port, and other honored guests kicked off the “Race to Completion” of the Legacy Trail with food, speeches and interactive exhibits.

This special event marked the County’s acquisition of the right of way for the Trail extension from the Culverhouse Nature Center, just south of Clark Road, north up to Fruitville Road. Attendees enjoyed a lovely summer morning in Payne Park while receiving the latest information on the property acquisition as well as construction plans.

Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines

Sarasota County Commission Chair Charles Hines told the assembled crowd that “the Trail offers a chance to commune with nature, it builds a sense of community, and it honors the rich history of our County… that’s why we voters overwhelmingly approved the bond referendum. It showed us … that [the Trail] is just as important to our community as anything else…It is paramount to our Board to get this project up and running as quickly as possible.”

Nichole Rissler, Director, Park, Recreation and Natural Resources

Sarasota County Director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Nicole Rissler added that “Since the passing of the referendum, Sarasota County staff have worked tirelessly – and I really mean tirelessly – to bring the Legacy Trail extension to life…when complete, the extension will create nearly 30 miles of continuous, non-motorized, paved, multi-use trail enhancing connectivity from North Port through Venice to downtown Sarasota and include improvements such as crossings and overpasses at Clark Road and at Bee Ridge, amenities, and increased accessibility.”

Friends of Legacy Trail (FLT) has played an integral part in this process, and we participated in the “Race To Completion” kickoff by sharing information and handouts with attendees. FLT President Louis Kosiba noted that “this is a great day for the Legacy Trail. The County has now acquired the land we need for the extension into downtown Sarasota, and it won’t be too long before Trail users can travel directly from North Port through the Venice Train Depot to Payne Park. Our early vision from way back in 2008 is growing clearer and closer to reality.”

For more information, go to here and here.

Celebrate the Purchase of The Trail Corridor

Join Us — Commissioners, Staff, and Friends of The Legacy Trail — as we Celebrate the Purchase of the Trail Extension Corridor into Downtown Sarasota and Begin the “RACE TO COMPLETION” of The Trail!

  • Where:  East side of Payne Park (map)
  • When:  This Friday June 28 | 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.

**Wear Your “Extend the Trail” Yellow Shirt to Show Your Support.**

Coffee and snacks will be available.

It’s Been a Long Road to Get to This Milestone.  Let’s Celebrate!!

From the President – June 2019

I’d like to take a moment to thank the FLT Board members for their amazing passion, insight, and drive to support our beloved Legacy Trail in the last year.  We achieved an incredible victory with 71 percent voter support to spend $65 million to extend the Legacy Trail to downtown Sarasota and better connect the city of North Port to the Legacy Trail.  Extension efforts are well underway! 

The FLT board has embraced new long range goals.  We have contributed substantial improvement to the existing trail, e.g., a new water fountain at Osprey Junction Trail head, funded relocating the Legacy Trail road sign from Laurel Road to Bay Street, planning and funding a new rest stop by the trestle at Oscar Scherer, reduced our operating costs by eliminating the need for rented storage space. 

I also want to thank all the FLT members and volunteers who support our organization with their funds and volunteer their time to support the trail.  As a six-month snowbird from Maine, it is very challenging to remain engaged in all the FLT moving parts from a distance of 1,600 miles away.  Our Vice President, Louis Kosiba has agreed to assume the role of President, and I will take his position as Vice President. 

FLT Organizes Commissioner Tours of the North Port Connector Route Alternatives

by Roger Normand

Friends of the Legacy Trail sponsored two tours in May for Sarasota County and City of North Port commissioners to view and experience two alternative routes from the Legacy Trail in Venice to North Port. 

As part of the passage of the referendum, $2 million will be put toward a connector route. Both routes currently being considered rejoin at the eastern end of Border Road. The alternatives include:

  • Entering the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and enhancing the existing nine-mile packed-surface South Power Line Trail to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port.
  • Continuing along the lightly used paved South Moon Drive and Forbes Trail into Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and Schewe Ranch and creating a new three-mile paved or packed-surface trail to West Price Boulevard in North Port.   

While the County has made commendable progress to prepare the bonding documents to secure funding and develop its plans and requirements for design and engineering support to extend the Legacy Trail to Sarasota, progress on route selection for the North Port connection has not been as proactive. For example, there has been no effort to develop a cost analysis on the routes.

In Deer Prairie Creek Preserve. From left to right: North Port Commissioner Jill Luke, Sarasota County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Director Nicole Rissler, Friends of The Legacy Trail Board Director Roger Normand, and Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines.

In organizing the tour, FLT wanted to bring visibility to and promote dialog on the unique opportunities and challenges with both routes. FLT created an objective list of the pros and cons of each route, which were presented to the commissioners for consideration during the tour. We invited all County and City commissioners, and four participated: County Commissioner Charles Hines rode with City Commissioner Jill Luke on the first tour, while County Commissioner Christian Ziegler rode with North Port Vice Mayor Debbie McDowell on the second tour. We worked with County staff to arrange for the necessary four-wheel-drive vehicle for the rough terrain, and coordinated with park managers from the Carlton Reserve and Deer Prairie Creek Preserve who drove the vehicles and provided valuable insights on park conditions. 

On the Carlton Reserve South Power Line Trail. From left to right: Sarasota County Natural Areas and Trails Division Manager Jon Robinson, Sarasota County Commissioner Christian Ziegler, North Port Vice Mayor Debbie McDowell, Friends of the Legacy Trail Board Director Roger Normand, Friends of the Legacy Trail North Port Coordinator Sharon Donovan.

Everyone was grateful for the opportunity to get an on-the-ground perspective. Vice Mayor McDowell perhaps said it best: “I am so glad I took the tour…. Seeing the trail path, in person, gave me a unique perspective compared to just a line on a map. THANK YOU.”

FLT will soon be providing the County and City with our recommendations. The County and City will ultimately make the decision, based on costs, environmental impacts, feasibility, and a number of other factors, and there will be public comment periods to inform the communities of their plans. As always, FLT welcomes input from our members and we are in need of volunteers in North Port who can help us enhance and support the connector route. Either one of the routes will provide a beautiful natural experience for cyclists and others.

Trail Extension News – June 2019

by Roger Normand

Looking North to Downtown Sarasota

We are on the cusp of realizing a remarkable milestone to extend the Legacy Trail to downtown Sarasota.  Suddenly, unbelievably, our vision for a paved, multiuse path along the abandoned, unsightly rail corridor that stretches from Culverhouse Nature Park to Payne Park and Fruitville will, by the end of this month, become County property.  That’s a critical precursor to proceeding with the design and engineering of the trail extension.  Our six year quest, capped by the astounding support of 71 percent of County voters during the November 2018 referendum to extend the Legacy Trail IS REALLY HAPPENING!

Much has been going on behind the scenes to proceed with the purchase:      

  • The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Sarasota County completed their due diligence review (environmental assessment, title search, boundary survey, leases and encroachment issues). All concerns were resolved satisfactorily.
  • The County completed its competitive solicitation process and selected Kimley-Horne and Associates for design and engineering support for the extension.  The County is now finalizing the scope of work, which will include cost analysis and design for the North Port connection.  The contract is expected to be submitted to the County Commissioners by July 10 for approval.
  • On June 4, the County will be selling $37 million in general obligation bonds (of the $65 million authorized in the referendum) to purchase the rail corridor and pay for initial design and engineering of the trail extension.  It also includes $2 million for the North Port connection.  Contact your financial institution if you’d like to hold some of these bonds in your portfolio!
  • The County and Florida Department of Transportation have agreed to realign $8.5 million in FL SUN Trail funds provided for the extension to Ashton Road.  FDOT will retain the funds and now be responsible for the design, bidding and construction of both the Bee Ridge and Clark Road overpasses.  This resolves a timing issue (the SUN funds were programmed in 2022/2023), and allows the County to proceed with the immediate design and accelerated construction of the flat trail.  The design and construction of the Clark Road trail overpass is particularly  complicated: FDOT plans to simultaneously straighten the McIntosh Road intersection so the overpass carries trail uses across both Clark and McIntosh Roads.
  •   We can expect TPL and the County to close on the purchase from CSX ~ June 25, with a public event celebrating the milestone a few days later.  We plan to mobilize our FLT member “yellow shirt brigade” at the event.  We will issue an email blast once the County finalizes the timing and location. 

Trail supporters, June will truly be a remarkable month.

Trail Extension Project Expedited!

by Steve Martin

Thanks to very diligent work by the county commissioners, county staff, and FDOT, the projected schedule for the northern extension has been considerably expedited. It is now estimated that the ground level trail (excluding highway overpasses) will be completed in 2022! (The previous estimate for completion, including overpasses, was December 2024.)

Change of plans:  FDOT will now pay for and build the overpasses for Clark and Bee Ridge Roads.

  • Previous Plan:  FDOT was to give the county $1M for the Clark Road overpass design, and $7.5M in fiscal year 2022-2023 to help with construction of the Phase 1 part of the trail (current northern terminus to Ashton Rd).  This meant that Phase 1 construction could not be started until 2023.
  • The New Plan:  Instead of giving the above $8.5M to the county, FDOT will pay for the design and construction of the overpasses over Clark and Bee Ridge roads.  The county will now pay for all construction of the ground level trail. This removes the restriction on when Phase 1 construction can begin.  There are several segments to the extension that have been identified and the order in which the segments will be completed will be addressed by the design firm.  FDOT does not have a schedule for completing the overpasses at this time.

The county has received approval from the Federal Surface Transportation Board to use the rail corridor as a trail.

The county expects to sign a contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. for design of the trail, which will include a study of the cost of routes to North Port, by June 5.

It is anticipated that the county will close on the purchase of rail corridor on or before June 30th.

Note: You may sign up to receive extension updates by email from the county on this page.
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Trail Extension News – May 2019

by Roger Normand

In conducting its due diligence, the Trust for Public Land and the County have discovered numerous encroachments into the rail corridor by adjacent residential property owners. 

The Board of County Commissioners (BCC) on April 23rd unanimously approved extending the diligence phase from April 30 to May 21.  This may similarly delay, but not jeopardize, the 30 May settlement date to acquire the rail corridor from Ashton Road to Fruitville Road. 

The BCC previously had unanimously approved proceeding to issue up to $37 million in County general obligation bonds, and adopt internal management actions to acquire and manage the extension project.

Friends of The Legacy Trail