Committee proposed selections to board members for Ashton Road, Webber Street and Pompano Avenue sites
It took less than 3 minutes on March 23 for the Sarasota County Commission to unanimously approve the proposed names of three new trailheads planned for The Legacy Trail’s North Extension from Culverhouse Nature Park on Palmer Ranch to Payne Park in downtown Sarasota.
The selections are Ashton Trailhead, for the facility that will be located at 4031 Ashton Road; Sarasota Springs Trailhead for the site at 4010 Webber St.; and Pompano Trailhead for the facility that will be constructed at 601 S. Pompano Ave., adjacent to the Sarasota County Fairgrounds and Babe Ruth Park.
After Chair Alan Maio read the agenda item into the record, Commissioner Nancy Detert made the motion to approve the names, saying, “Makes perfect sense to me.”
Commissioner Michael Moran seconded the motion.
A March 23 staff memo explained that the Ashton Road Trailhead will be created on a 2.52-acre site that the county bought for $55,400 on Sept. 1, 1985. The Sarasota Springs Trailhead will be constructed on 1.61 acres, which the county purchased through its Neighborhood Parklands Acquisition Program. The county paid $188,000 for that parcel on April 8, 2020.
The funds were produced by a voter-approved property tax dedicated to generating money for the county’s acquisition of new park sites.
Finally, the Pompano Trailhead will be located on the site of a former state — and then county — driver’s license facility, which encompasses 5.11 acres. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department originally leased the property from the county, which the county purchased on April 30, 1964, the staff memo noted. After the state mandated that county tax collectors take over driver’s license renewals as of the summer of 2015, Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates assigned part of her staff to the building on the site until the Mid-County Tax Collector’s Office was completed on Sawyer Loop Road.
The March 23 county staff memo also points out that the Ashton Trailhead is about half-a-mile north of Clark Road; it is “in a mixed-use area of industrial and residential zoning. The trailhead park will include parking, restrooms, a playground and spaces for mobile vending.”
The Sarasota Springs Trailhead will include parking spaces, restrooms and a playground, the memo adds.
The Pompano Trailhead will feature pickleball courts and a bicycle safety course, the memo says. The former driver’s license renewal building will be adapted to serve as a community center, with park offices and meeting space, the memo notes.
County staff conducted a community competition from Jan. 17 to Feb. 17, encouraging members of the public to suggest names for the trailheads. Altogether, a March 23 staff PowerPoint presentation showed, 13 names were submitted without a specified location; 13 came in for the Ashton Road site; nine, for the Webber Street trailhead; and nine, for the Pompano Avenue site.
A Names Selection Committee was organized to review the entries and offer its choices to the commissioners, the memo indicates.
The committee members met on March 5, the memo adds. Along with Nicole Rissler, director of the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department (PRNR), the members were Carolyn Eastwood, director of the Capital Projects Department; Jon Robinson, manager of the Natural Areas and Trails Division of PRNR; Michelle Stanley, chair of the county’s Parks Advisory and Recreation Council; Leon Thibeaut, a member of the board of the Friends of the Legacy Trail; and Hannah Benga, a county administrative operations analysis, according to the minutes of the March 5 meeting that group conducted on the naming process.
Just before the commissioners voted on March 23, Chair Alan Maio noted, “It wasn’t too long ago we were just wondering how this giant, big project was going to pass through a referendum.” He was referring to the November 2018 General Election, when county voters were asked to authorize $65 million in county expenditures for the extensions of The Legacy Trail. More than 70% of those who cast ballots were in favor of the proposal.
Maio also alluded to the progress being made on the North Extension.
The county webpage devoted to the Legacy Trail projects points out that asphalt is being laid on Segment 1, which will extend from Proctor Road to Bahia Vista Street. That was about 60% complete as of March 11, the page adds. “Segment 1 is anticipated to be the first portion completed as early as summer 2021,” the webpage says.
When the North Extension and the North Port connector have been constructed, the webpage points out, nearly 30 miles of a continuous, non-motorized, paved multi-use trail will run from North Port to downtown Sarasota.