Rich- In this installment of Why Sarasota where we take a look at the people, places and things that make Sarasota an amazing place to call home. We're going to speak with Louis, the president of the Friends of the legacy trail to explore this absolutely wonderful amenity that's provided for free here in Sarasota to all residents and visitors. Come check it out.

Louis- My name is Louis Kosiba and I'm President of Friends of the Legacy Trail. The Friends of the Legacy Trail is a not for profit organization. We're all volunteers and our role is really to support the county in maintaining and improving the trail. So the legacy trail is an 18 mile trail going from the Venice train depot to Payne Park in downtown Sarasota. It is a county park and it was recently extended. That's something we worked on in 2018. The voters passed a referendum to raise money to extend the trail and to build additional amenities. So it's really a very dynamic trail. And we happen to be at the Ashton Trailhead. So typically, our trail heads are going to have ample parking. They're going to have flush toilet restrooms which for cyclists is kind of important. At this one, we also have a beautiful playground. So we want the trail heads to be an excellent access to the trail, but also provide a park experience for the community. So a couple other things about the trail. It's paved. There are very few street crossings. It's a former railroad right of way. So it goes through some very picturesque areas like Oscar Scherer State Park, and for major streets like US 41, Laurel, and soon Clark are going to have bridges built across those busy streets so that will improve safety for the trail users and will also improve traffic flow for people using the many roads here in Sarasota County.

Rich- Perfect. It looks like Osprey is the newest Trailhead that's being built right now that's down the street from my house. Is that the last of the trailheads it's going to be built or other additional ones that are in the stages of things built out.

Louis- Well thank you for asking. The Osprey Trailhead had been there for many years but it was really an underdeveloped facility. There was no restroom. There was just gravel parking. And so what we're going to have is really a very extensive, beautiful trailhead with parking with the restroom, but also grounds that people are going to be able to use. Oh by the way, right next to it is this little wetland area where it's season you're going to see baby alligators. You gotta stay away from the mother. But you will have baby alligators.

Rich- I have seen a warning sign at the trailhead there. So this is fantastic. I think it's a great asset to the community and I appreciate your time here today.

Louis-  Before the trail was extended we had about 200,000 trail users a year. Currently it's over 650,000. We have counters along the trail and we use a sophisticated algorithm to make sure that we don't over count for undercount trail users. So it's really a very popular trail. And we have a lot of people from out of town that use it. So you'll have people who come from the north you'll have people who come actually from Europe, they know about Sarasota County, they know about the beaches, but not everyone can be on the beach every day of their vacation. So there are places like the legacy trail and we're trying to connect to other areas won't be technically the trail but we'll have connectors to Bobby Jones golf club which is going to have a new nature park there. Birders are going to be very interested in that. And then we also have a fantastic facility called Nathan Benderson Park. Nathan Benderson Park is a premier rowing facility nationwide. And back in July of this year, we just had international dragon boat races with teams from Thailand and teams from Europe, and teams from South America. So Sarasota County has a lot to offer.

Rich- Yes, it does. Well, thank you so much. This is fantastic. I appreciate your time and I look forward to seeing you on the trail!

Louis- Thank you.

Rich- So I want to thank Louis and friends of the legacy trail for keeping up the effort thank the county of Sarasota for making this amenity available to all residents and visitors here. If you'd like to learn more, there's going to be a link in the description below on how you can learn more about the trail how you can get involved with a friend's legacy trail if you'd like and just more about some of the amenities that are available along and so I encourage you to get on your bike get on your rollerblades scooter