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Tuesday's Laurel Park Neighborhood Association meeting saw some residents raise concerns about a kayak launch site that will be part of a multi-use recreational trail.
Sarasota Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 1 year ago

Laurel Park residents voice concerns about trail

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by: David Conway News Editor
 

At Tuesday night’s Laurel Park Neighborhood Association meeting, some residents voiced concerns that the planned Alderman Geenen Multi-Use Recreational Trail could bring traffic into the neighborhood and cause parking issues.

Bill Nichols, the project manager with the city’s public works department, spoke at the meeting to provide an update on the construction efforts, which have currently reduced Brother Geenen Way to one lane.

A 10-foot-wide recreational trail will be constructed from Brother Geenen Way to Alderman Street, extending over Osprey Avenue and the Hudson Bayou and connecting Laurel Park to Burns Square. The city is also installing two new pipes for drainage improvements in the area. Nichols said the city hopes to complete the project completely by the middle of March.

Some Laurel Park residents told Nichols they were worried about people traveling to the neighborhood simply to use the multi-use recreational trail. Others were also concerned about residential trail access points, which they said could possibly draw homeless people and others into the neighborhood when they otherwise wouldn’t be there.

A particular point of controversy was a kayak launch into the Hudson Bayou near Alderman Street. Only two parking spots, including one handicapped-accessible space, will be added to accommodate the launch site.

Nichols said the kayak launch was intended to be largely for residential use. Still, several people were worried that it would draw more people into the neighborhood. If kayakers used the launch site even when the designated parking spaces were occupied, it would make what residents say is already a difficult parking situation in the area even worse.

Laurel Park resident Dennis Kowal said, due to the increasing popularity of kayaking and the relative shortage of kayak launch sites, it seemed inevitable that kayakers would park in residential areas to access the bayou.

“I don’t think someone has paid attention to how popular kayaking is becoming,” Kowal said. “It's going to become a really serious issue immediately.”

Nichols said the city would monitor the situation and, if a problem arose, look into a possible solution for any parking woes. Neighborhood association president Kate Lowman thanked Nichols for providing an update on the project, and told residents that they had to wait and see how things played out.

“Hopefully, there will be some good things that come out of (the trail),” Lowman said. “If there are unintended consequences, we will have to deal with it. I don't see how we can deal with them ahead of time.”

Contact David Conway at dconway@yourobserver.com.

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