When Terry Redman, president of Friends of Sarasota County Parks, thinks about the all-volunteer, nonprofit organization to which he devotes his time, he is reminded of a story he once heard about famed football coach Alonzo Stagg.
According to the story, a neighbor informed Stagg that the group of kids playing football on his lawn would prevent his grass from ever growing. Staggs simply replied that he wasn’t trying to grow grass — he was trying to grow kids.
“That’s the same way Friends of Sarasota County Parks looks at the projects we work on,” says Redman. “We’re not just building a facility. We’re building a place for mothers with their strollers, for people to jog and have a healthier life — to ride bikes safely. We’re giving people access to facilities that they might not normally have, and we’re giving them the ability to participate right here in Sarasota County.”
As its name implies, Friends of Sarasota County Parks was founded in 2002 with the mission of working alongside Sarasota County Parks and Recreation employees to promote, enhance and maintain the county’s parks.
Redman says he has always had a strong interest in parks and that he had a hand in founding the organization. After petitioning county commissioners, the organization was formed and acquired its 501(c)3 status. It serves as the umbrella organization for approximately 30 chapters within the county that all work together on projects such as dedicating memorial benches, trees and pavers, relocating historic houses, founding the Phillippi Creek and Englewood farmers markets and more.
Currently, FOSCP and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation are raising $75,000 to pay for half of a feasibility study for the proposed expansion of the Legacy Trail into Payne Park. The trail currently spans 10 miles from Venice to just south of Clark Road, and the expansion would add 8 miles of recreational trail and create a nearly 20-mile continuous patch between Venice and Sarasota.
“There would be economic benefits of people coming here just to ride the trail,” says Redman. “It would give cyclists a safe place to ride. We’ve already looked into a bike-share program. It would really open up the whole community and tie everyone together. The purpose of this is to get more people on the trail.”
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