If you want to find out how important voting is, just ask the person whose presidential candidate did not win. People lament on social media day in and day out about why this person won or this one did not, and this is all taking place nearly two years since the “big” election cycle. As we make our way into the midterm elections this fall, people are encouraging others to show up and vote. From a young voter campaign sparked largely by outspoken victims of the Parkland School shooting designed to guide 18-year-olds to the polls with a mission to reform gun laws, to the #MeToo Movement, trying to encourage female voters to make sure their candidate does not walk away the loser, groups everywhere are courting your vote.
But, what about the local ramifications of not voting? We all get so focused on the big picture that considering who is going to be on our school board or running our local governments seems trivial. We think of our core beliefs which include global topics like healthcare, abortion and who is going to run the most influential country in the world. With a spotlight on the big topics we deprive other matters the necessary attention they deserve, like who is guarding the gates right here at home in Sarasota County. When items like condominium sprawl, roundabouts, public recreational activities and medicinal marijuana are on the agenda, it’s imperative we put in our two cents. And it’s even the smaller issues which can impact day to day enjoyment in our communities.
The Legacy Trail is a place you should visit this summer, if you haven’t already, and one that you should vote on this coming November. The issue this fall involves a bond referendum to extend the Legacy Trail. If approved, this would allow the county to borrow up to $65 million to purchase an additional 6.5 miles of unused railroad corridor. They would be able to complete the Ashton Road extension, provide trail overpasses, parking, restrooms, water fountains and build better connections to North Port.
So why should you care about the Legacy Trail? For starters it is a highly innovative use of miles of railroad that would otherwise be a blight to the surroundings. With so much of our natural scenery being blocked by high-rise condominiums, quaint water inlets being devoured by developers and green spaces disappearing, it is essential that we stand up for and appreciate beautiful outdoor areas. Opened to the public in 2008, the Legacy Trail is a multi-use recreational trail connecting spots all along Sarasota County. Built on an abandoned stretch of the Seminole Gulf Railway, biking, walking, skating, and just meandering through natural Florida flora and fauna is breathtaking. Running through Oscar Scherer Park, passing over Dona Bay, and at points along the Intracoastal Waterway affords users vista views and close ups of the birds and wildlife in the area.
With a wide, 12-foot paved surface and several rest areas along the way it is perfect for a planned day of cycling. With markers providing descriptions of the area’s rich history and natural amenities and a variety of trails that branch from the main one, each ride is different. Whether you are planning on a short maiden cruise or biking the entire trail, be sure to wear your sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and bring snacks and water. Depending on where you start out, you may have the option of dining or stopping at restaurants along the way, but there are also plenty of locations to stop off and have a light picnic lunch that you have packed.
As you peruse social media and notice all the posts urging you to use the power of your vote, please remember issues like the Legacy Trail Bond Referendum. Places like this are a rarity and by encouraging expansion and upkeep, we are letting our local lawmakers know that we care about restoring our natural surroundings and love having beautiful recreational outlets to use. For more information on the Legacy Trail, please visit this website.
Photos courtesy of Friends of the Legacy Trail Facebook page.