Communities to Pick as Trail Extension Gathers More Steam


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, January 23rd 2017 – Residential communities like Arielle on Palmer Ranch, McIntosh Lake, and Meadowland Circle are well-positioned to draw benefits from the planned northward extension of Sarasota’s Legacy Trail which has gained further momentum recently.

In December, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation granted a $50,000 donation to the Trust for Public Land. This national nonprofit is negotiating on the county’s behalf to acquire the 7.5-mile railroad corridor that would extend Legacy Trail to Payne Park in east downtown Sarasota.

The extension of the trail would begin just north of its current northern terminus at the Culverhouse Nature Park in Palmer Ranch. The multi-family homes of Arielle in this master development is notably just some 500 yards from Culverhouse.

More Funding Available

Communities to Pick as Trail Extension Gathers More Steam

Local officials say that the recent five-figure donation is significant not so much so for its amount but for the leadership and support that the Gulf Coast Community Foundation wanted to impart on the trail project.

So far, the extension plan has drawn about $240,000 in donations. With this amount, a project study on the Legacy Trail initiative has been completed. It has been presented to and already approved by the Sarasota County Commission.

The project is estimated to cost a total of $20 million, funding for which could be sourced from several sources. These include the Shared-Use, Nonmotorized Trails System (SUNTrail) program of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) which recently allotted $511,111 for the Willow-Ellenton Greenway trail in Manatee.

Legacy Trail missed out on this FDOT annual grant in 2016 because land purchases and encroachment clearing have yet to be accomplished along the planned extension. To fund such initial project expense items, the county is looking at other revenue sources, such as mobility fees, gas and tourist taxes, and infrastructure surtax funding.

Strong Community Support

More widespread support from the community could be expected too following the recent grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation as well as the founding in 2016 of the nonprofit Friends of Legacy Trail.

Now with over 1,000 members, this group is not only organizing trail activities but also rallying the local homeowners’ associations to lobby for the Legacy Trail extension. The nonprofit notes that extending the trail to Sarasota’s downtown core would put over two-thirds of city workers and residents within two miles of the multi-use trail.

Mobility Benefit

It likewise points out that the extension would provide an alternative transportation link between neighborhoods and local amenities. Residents of Arielle on Palmer Ranch, for instance, would have a car-less, paved, multi-use trail northward to the attractions along the Clark Road and Ashton Road corridors.

For the communities of McIntosh Lake and Meadowland Circle, both off Wilkinson Road north of Arielle on Palmer Ranch, the benefit would be a newfound access to a 30-mile trail extending south to Legacy’s existing connection to the Venetian Waterway Park Trail. Connecting with existing neighborhood trails and on-road bike lanes is another perk to local residents. These pathways include: the Longboat Key Trail to Anna Maria Island; Circus Trail to Benderson Park; and the Celery Field Trail to Rothenbach Park.