Last week’s Sarasota City Commission meeting included more than two hours of presentations and public comments about the Bird Key park phase of the West Bayfront Multi-Use Recreational Trail.
But the Bird Key Park part of the project, which includes two phases, the first of which will begin in January, is just one stop in the road toward the ultimate goal of connecting the existing Bayfront MURT with Lido and St. Armands keys.
Neil Gaines, manager of capital projects for the city of Sarasota, spoke about plans for the Ben Franklin Drive portion of the West Bayfront MURT project to the Lido Key Residents Association at the group’s monthly meeting Nov. 21. Gaines told residents the city was in the process of securing permits from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the Ben Franklin Drive phase of the project but took a brief hiatus to address crosswalks on the street, some of which terminate at intersections or in grass.
“They’re basically crosswalks to nowhere,” Gaines said. “We’re going to modify them so that they terminate into dead-end onto the sidewalk and then we will get the FDEP permit.”
Gaines said the plans will include plugging up certain unofficial beach access points by replanting sea oaks, which may be controversial to some. The plan also will include planting palm trees on both sides of the trail.
The Lido Key phase of the project will begin at John Ringling Boulevard and stop at the Lido Beach Resort, 700 Ben Franklin Drive.
One person attending the meeting asked a question why the trail wouldn’t extend further down Ben Franklin Drive, to which Gaines responded:
According to Gaines, plans for the Ben Franklin Drive part of MURT are 90% complete, and the city hopes to be on schedule in the permitting process by January. A public input meeting will take place early next year at City Hall.
Completion of the entire project is slated for September 2010.
Contact Robin Hartill at email@example.com.
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