USF-SM trail will open campus to public

skennedy@bradenton.comMarch 11, 2014 

MANATEE -- A pedestrian and bicycle trail linking the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee with Manatee County's Powel Crosley Estate is in the works.

A lease agreement will be reviewed Tuesday by Manatee County commissioners to accommodate construction of the trail.

The first phase of the trail will connect USF-SM with New College of Florida, while other phases may eventually take hikers and bikers to other local institutions such as the nearby John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, according to county documents.

The lease agreement calls for the college to pay annual rent of $1 per year for an initial term of 20 years.

The so-called Sarasota BayWalk Trail will extend a half-mile through USF-SM property, according to Ruth Lando, USF director of communications and marketing.

Construction began in February and is expected to be complete in late April, she said.

The project will feature sidewalk and an elevated boardwalk at the college at 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

In the 1930s, a similar trail linked the mansions of the late American industrialist Powel Crosley Jr., whose estate is now owned by Manatee County, and his neighbor, circus impresario John Ringling, namesake of the Ringling Museum, said Elliott Falcione, director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"This bay trail will give us an opportunity to cross-promote the beautiful assets along the bay, and will enhance the quality of life for our residents and students," said Falcione.

The trail will wind past the Crosley Estate at One Seagate Drive and connect with Uplands Boulevard.

Money for the project comes from state funds for infrastructure improvements, said Lando.

Richard Lyttle, USF-SM director for facilities planning and management, is overseeing the project, Lando said.

Nearby New College of Florida has had a trail in its master plans since 2007, but it lacks the money to add a connection to the one coming its way from USF-SM, said David Gulliver, media relations coordinator at New College.

"We had to work very hard to find $2 million to fix our library's roof last year -- this is a substantial amount of money, and there's a lot of uses for it here," Gulliver said. "It will come down to finding the resources to do it."

USF neighbors will have access to the trail as it winds toward the Manatee-Sarasota county line, said Lando.

She noted the trail will provide a new way to enjoy the university's glamorous campus overlooking Sarasota Bay.

"It's going to be a lovely community amenity when it's finished because there is no way for the public to walk along the bay currently through USF Sarasota-Manatee's property and the Crosley Estate," Lando said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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