New multi-use recreational trail opens to the public on Selby Gardens’ downtown Sarasota campus

800-foot-long paved trail provides safe bayfront access for walkers, cyclists

A new multi-use recreational trail, or MURT, has opened along the perimeter of Selby Gardens’ downtown Sarasota campus, the Gardens’ staff has announced.

The 800- foot-long MURT gives pedestrians, joggers, cyclists and others safe access to the campus — as well as to the Sarasota bayfront — from neighborhoods south and east of the Gardens, a news release points out.

The paved trail runs the length of the northern and eastern borders of Selby Gardens’ property, along the Mound Street/U.S. 41 intersection to the north and South Orange Avenue to the east, the release adds. It is the first component of Phase One of the Gardens’ Master Plan” to open at the Sarasota campus, “and it represents just one of several improvements being contributed to the community as part of the project,” the release notes.

“The new MURT isn’t quite complete yet, as we still have beautiful plantings and an area of pavers to install, but it is now open for all to use!” said Jennifer O. Rominiecki, president & CEO of Selby Gardens, in the release. “The MURT gives guests safe and convenient access to our campus on foot or by bike,” she added in the release. “What’s more, it gives our entire community a multimodal connection to the Sarasota bayfront and beyond.”

“The new pathway significantly widens the previous sidewalk that bordered Selby Gardens’ campus, running a maximum of 12 feet wide on Orange Avenue,” the release explains. The MURT adds width on Mound Street, as well, the release says. “It meets the requirements of a multimodal trail, meaning it can be used for walking, jogging, cycling, and in-line skating.”

In addition to installing a wider sidewalk, Selby Gardens has provided some of its property along the northeastern corner of its campus to accommodate off-site traffic improvements near the intersection of Orange Avenue and Mound Street, “without affecting the planned building setback for that area,” the release notes.

A future highlight of the MURT, Rominiecki pointed out in the release, will be the garden views that pedestrians and cyclists will be able to enjoy when using it.

“When Phase One construction on our project is completed next fall,” Rominiecki said in the release, “everyone who utilizes the MURT will gain wonderful, sweeping views of new garden features and historical elements of our campus.” She added, “The design is intended to make the Gardens look and feel more open, not hidden behind a fence or a wall. That’s something people will be able to enjoy on either side of our property line.”

The landscaping plan for the MURT involves adding an irrigation line and new plantings to be maintained by Selby Gardens’ horticulture staff, the release continues. “Additionally, a small area near Palm Avenue on Mound Street is temporarily covered with asphalt, but that will be replaced by pavers at the time that the original Augusta block is reinstalled on historic Palm Avenue within the campus,” the release adds.

“The entirety of Phase One of Selby Gardens’ Master Plan is expected to be complete in October 2023, less than a year from now,” the release points out. In addition to the MURT, Phase One consists of the following, the release adds:

  • A new Welcome Center.
  • A state-of-the-art Plant Research Center with a new herbarium, laboratory and library.
  • The Living Energy Access Facility (LEAF), which will house parking, a garden-to-plate restaurant, a new gift shop and a nearly 50,000-square-foot solar array “that will make Selby Gardens the first net-positive botanical garden complex in the world,” the release says.
  • A “cutting-edge stormwater-management system.”
  • Off-site roadway improvements.
  • Numerous new garden features with more open space.