Segment 1 of the Legacy Trail North Extension from Proctor Road to Bahia Vista is now open to the public!! In addition, the county has also opened sections of Segment 2 from Culverhouse Nature Park to Sawyer Loop Road, and from Proctor Road to just north of Ashton Road.
Since Friends of The Legacy Trail first proposed extending The Trail into downtown Sarasota in 2013, it has been a long, hard, campaign with many ups and downs along the way. The opening of Segment 1 represents a very significant milestone for our community and all who have supported and worked for the Extension.
Here are a few scenes showing how we got here:
FLT Proposes Trail Extension to County Commissioners
Photo from Sarasoto News Leader Oct. 11, 2013
Hundreds of Information Tables
Meetings with County Commissioners
New Sign and Board Members
FLT Board Members Celebrate Purchase of First 2-Mile Rail Segment
FLT Speakers Bureau Gave Many Presentations to Local Organizations
Two of Our Biggest Supporters
Thank You Sarasota County
Celebrating Purchase of Rail Corridor
Groundbreaking for the North Extension
Trail Clearing Begins
Segment 2 Clearing
Progress! Trail clearing proceeding on Segment 2 of the extension.
Paving Begins on Segment 1
New kiosk, palm trees, and pavement at Wilkinson Ave. Intersection
Groundbreaking for the paved section of the North Port Legacy Trail Connector was held this morning, Monday, June 6. FLT was represented at the event by (left) Sharon Donovan (FLT Newsletter Editor & NP Representative), (center) Louis Kosiba (FLT President), and (right) Rita Miotti (FLT vice-President).
FLT was thanked by everyone who spoke, including Nicole Rissler (Sarasota County Parks Department) and County Commissioners Alan Maio and Ron Cutsinger. It was a very positive event, which is what we all need these days!
Riding the Legacy Trail is always a pleasure – often because of the interesting people you meet along the way. Sometimes, they are just plain inspiring.
I distinctly remember passing a solo rider on today’s ride and moments later, my mind was processing what I thought I saw. Was that rider pedaling with just one leg? I slowed and the one-legged rider quickly caught up.
After some pleasantries, I introduced myself as a member of the Friends of the Legacy Trail, and said I was always on the lookout for stories that highlight the diversity of trail users. Without hesitation, Kirk Bauer introduced himself and gladly offered some of his personal journey.
Kirk lives in Baltimore, but was vacationing in Venice for a few weeks. “I’ve been here a few times before and love the great weather for outdoor activities, the restaurants, and being able to ride mostly flat rails-trails like the Legacy Trail. With just one leg pedaling, I don’t do as well going up hills” he said with a smile.
“I lost my leg while serving with the Army during the Vietnam war.” I thanked him for his service and sacrifice. Recovery, physically and mentally, was not easy, he explained, “but I had great doctors, physical therapists, and outstanding role models around me to lean on and guide me.”
“I did some bicycling before I lost my leg.” He said it was one of the many early skills he had to relearn. “Like a kid, I started out with training wheels and someone walking by my side in case I lost my balance. My first solo ride was a big deal for me.” Getting comfortable on the bike took some time.
“I have a prosthetic leg, but it’s uncomfortable cycling and doesn’t give me much leverage to pedal” he explained pointing to the short remaining stump of his left leg. “I find it better to ride my bike without it.” He said his typical ride is 40 to 60 miles! I told him to come back next year after the Legacy Trail extension is completed to downtown Sarasota and he could do that round trip distance right here on the trail.
His Army service and rehabilitation experience led to a lifelong career: helping other disabled individuals regain a sense of self, purpose, and accomplishment. Kirk was the Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA for over 30 years, growing the organization into national prominence. “I’ve had a few other interesting adventures,” pointing me to his resume on Move United, the successor to Disabled Sports.”
Like being appointed by President Bush to represent the US at the 2008 Beijing Summer Paralympics; leading a team of amputee veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars to reach the Mt. Kilimanjaro summit; and receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award by the President’s Council on Fitness in 2013.
As we approached the Laurel road overpass, I noticed that he never lost speed or cadence going up one of the few “hills” along the trail. Later I saw on his resume that he’d once completed the 100 mile “Three Notch Century Bicycle Ride” over three mountain passes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Now retired at age 73, Kirk is still riding and inspiring others, including me.
A significant step was taken today (3/5/21) as the asphalt paving was begun on Segment 1 of the trail extension. Paving started at Weber St. this morning and is progressing north towards Bahia Vista Blvd. This picture was taken around noon, so you can see that they are making good progress!
The new protected bike lanes on each side of Ringling Blvd will provide a safe bicycle route from the northern end of The Legacy Trail near Payne park to central downtown Sarasota near the location of the Saturday Farmers Market! The bike lanes will go from Lime Ave. to S. Pineapple Ave. Many thanks to the Sarasota city commissioners for approving this project and to the city staff for their diligent and thorough work to make this happen.
An online survey on the proposal gathered 700 responses, 95% of which supported redesigning Ringling to better accommodate bikes. Dan Ohrenstein, Assistant City Engineer, stated “I would challenge anyone to find an issue in society today that has that much positivity.”
The work is expected to cost $900,000 for design and construction, and to be completed by the end of this year, in time for the opening of The Legacy Trail. A more permanent landscaped design will be considered at a later time.
Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 13: Contractors have placed a fence across the existing Legacy Trail, just north of Culverhouse Nature Park, to delineate the active work area of the Legacy Trail Northern Extension Project. Please turn around at the designated area, and do not enter the active construction site.
A historic Ringling train car has been moved into place at the Venice Train Depot today. With the help of numerous donors, the Venice Area Historical Society brought the retired circus train car to the Train Depot campus and is donating it to Sarasota County for viewing by the public.
Additional pictures by Mike Soltis and the Venice Historical Society: