Crowdfunding Aims to Triple Legacy Trail

Expansion

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY JAN 19, 2015

An online fundraising drive and the work of a number of business and philanthropic leaders could soon mean a massive expansion in the length of the Legacy Trail, potentially running it from Venetian Waterway Park all the way to Downtown Sarasota. The Gulf Coast Community Foundation, developer Jesse Biter and hundreds of donors big and small provided the needed funding to continue a feasibility study on extending the popular trail.

“I know there are thousands like me that will utilize the trail once it's complete,” said Biter. “The trail will also be a huge asset for our community and the homes and businesses around the trail.” 

Donations in a major crowdfunding effort were directed through Gulf Coast Community Foundations’ GulfCoastGives.org website. The drive, spearheaded by Biter and the Friends of the Legacy Trail, launched after Sarasota County Commissioners in August 2013 authorized $72,251 for a study but called for the private sector to raise the rest to match that amount and cover the expense. The $72,251 goal was met last week through donations as small as $10 along with contributions in the thousands. Groups like Friends of Sarasota County Parks and Friends of the Legacy Trail held fundraisers to contribute to the cause.

The 10-mile trail, which opened in 2008, extends now from south of Sarasota to the city of Venice primarily following an old CSX railroad corridor. The original trail land was purchased in 2004 for $11.75 million by the county. The ultimate goal of the fundraising efforts are to find a way to extend the trail to 30 miles. County staff is now reviewing an early draft of the feasibility report, and a final study should be completed and ready for review by county commissioners later this winter.

“The Legacy Trail connects our community’s parks and people,” said Teri A Hansen, president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “This grassroots fundraising effort to help extend it also connected diverse community members, and it demonstrates broad regional support for expanding the trail.”

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