FDEP to provide up to $400,000 for multi-use recreational trail to facilitate connection between Legacy Trail and points west in city of Sarasota

City Commission authorizes city manager to execute grant for Alderman MURT

In approving one of its July 3 consent agendas of routine business matters, the Sarasota City Commission authorized City Manager Marlon Brown to execute an agreement that will enable the city to receive up to $400,000 in a grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for a project related to The Legacy Trail.

The vote was unanimous.

As explained in the agenda request form, the Alderman Multi-Use Recreational Trail (MURT) project will entail the construction of an at-grade trail that will connect users of The Legacy Trail from where it ends on the eastern side of Payne Park, west to downtown Sarasota. That will result in “shorter distances for people walking, biking, or rolling (scooter, skateboard, roller skates, mobility assistance devices, etc.),” the form points out.

With The Legacy Trail ending at School Avenue, the form continues, no connection is available to the west “unless the user travels north on the path along the eastern [border] of the park” via School Avenue to Ringling Boulevard and then west toward downtown.

Further, the form notes, the MURT will “connect users to neighborhoods where bicycle lanes and multi-use paths exist.” Users also will be able to connect to the Ringling Trail, which was completed last year along part of Ringling Boulevard. That trail — which runs between Lime Avenue and Pineapple Avenue — provides a protected lane for bicyclists and others who are not using motor vehicles. Therefore, persons will be able to travel on the Alderman MURT from the Ringling Trail to the waterfront, the downtown core, St. Armands Key and Lido Key, the agenda request form says.

The MURT’s limits will be from The Legacy Trail junction at School Avenue to Alderman Street/South Payne Parkway and East Avenue, the agenda request form adds.

The grant agreement will be in effect for two years, the form notes.

The total estimated cost of the MURT is $775,000, the form points out. FDEP will pay no more than 52% of the final expense, up to $400,000, the form says.

Multi-Modal Transportation Impact Fees that the city receives will cover its share of the cost, the form points out.

Sarasota County citizens in November 2018 approved a referendum that allowed the Sarasota County Commission to issue up to $65 million in bonds to pay for The Legacy Trail to be extended from Culverhouse Nature Park on Palmer Ranch to downtown Sarasota and from the Venice Train Depot to North Port. The final connections — and new trailheads — were completed last year.

The nonprofit Friends of the Legacy Trail — which advocated for that bond referendum and has provided its own financial support for the resulting amenities — maintains usage data on its website. Last year, a total of 649,512 Legacy Trail users were counted, using a methodology that Friends Director Steve Martin explains on the website.

Through June of this year, the total was 422,730.