The purchase of 2.7 miles of former railroad right-of-way marks the completion of Phase I of the Legacy Trail extension.
Sarasota County acquired the next piece of land to extend the Legacy Trail toward downtown Sarasota, according to a release Dec. 20.
The Trust for Public Land purchased 2.7 miles of former railroad right of way with $7.9 million approved by the county earlier this year. The money mostly comes from the county’s Neighborhood Parkland Acquisition Program.
The land was purchased from CSX Transportation and Seminole Gulf Railway and extends from Culverhouse Nature Park in Palmer Ranch, the northern end of the Legacy Trail, to Ashton Road.
With this purchase, Phase I of the Legacy Trail extension is complete. Phase II involves purchasing another segment of the trail, from Ashton Road to Fruitville Road, for $30.1 million. This will require voters to approve the funding in a 2018 referendum to increase the property tax rate by 0.07 mills, or $14 for $200,000 of valuation per year for about 16 years.
“The extension of the Legacy Trail has been a top priority of the Sarasota County Commission for several years, and this acquisition represents a major milestone in achieving our goal,” Interim County Administrator Jonathan Lewis said in a release.
Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Carolyn Brown, the Legacy Trail represents many of Sarasota County’s goals.
“We strive to promote quality of life, enhance existing infrastructure and provide excellent service in Sarasota County,” Brown said in a release. “The Legacy Trail is an example of why we are the premiere community in which to live, work and play.”
Phase I and II only relate to the purchase of land, not the costs associated with building the trial. However, Sarasota County may be getting federal funding for construction of a portion of the trail.
The Florida Department of Transportation’s District 1 tentative budget for 2019-2023 includes $7.5 million funding for construction of the Legacy Trail extension, from Culverhouse Nature Park to Proctor Road. The budget is going through the state budget process, but is not subject to a line-item veto.
According to the county’s release, use of the Legacy Trail is expected to top 200,000 people by the end of this year.