The News-Press, August 1, 2019
by Ken Gooderham
|Image source: wikipedia|
The John Yarbrough Linear Park is a unique facility, as much a piece of transportation infrastructure (especially for cyclists) as it is a park. As such, it lacks one element that would make it more popular as a park – a place to park.
The linear park, which opened its first phase in 2005, stretches about 5 miles from Colonial Blvd. south to Six Mile Cypress Parkway along both sides of the Ten Mile Canal (which drains land from the City of Fort Myers southward and eventually empties into Mullock Creek and Estero Bay).
Its wide asphalt path conveys cyclists, runners, walker and skaters along a surprisingly natural swath of Southwest Florida. There are tables for picnics, shorelines for fishing and space for your dog to roam a bit (on leash, of course).
But what there isn’t is a place to park.
There is one area where the path intersects Daniels Parkway for a few cars to pull in (and it’s usually busy with walkers and dog owners. There’s an informal parking area at the southern terminus on a vacant lot in a commercial park off Six Mile Cypress… and, of course, people sometimes just pull off the road near where the path intersects, particularly to walk in a little and fish from the canal banks.
Parking is not as big a deal if you’re a cyclist, as many are going from one place to another via the park’s protected (and shaded, very welcome this time of year) pathway. But unless you live nearby (and a lot of people do), walking or fishing or bringing your dog for a change-of-pace walk is really not feasible.
That’s unfortunate, since the linear park is both a unique facility and a great place for a variety of pursuits. The fact that the pathway is removed from vehicular traffic (except when it crosses various roadways) is also a plus for cyclists who’d rather not deal with traffic and would enjoy a wide path with plenty of room for everyone to do their thing.
There are plans to build a trailhead park, which would include parking, restrooms and more, on a county parcel at the Six Mile end of the current path. The park was working its way through the permitting process earlier this year, and seemed on track for approval and construction, with funding proposed to get it under way in the next fiscal year.
The park was included in the draft FY 2019-2020 budget presented to the county commissioners at a briefing in early May. Subsequently, advocates have been informed that the project will not move forward next year as planned. No explanation has been given as of now.
This trailhead park will help boost use of the linear park, making it more feasible for people who aren’t nearby to come and enjoy the park’s unique facilities. It also might kick-start completion of the original linear park plan, which was to extend northward to tie in to the North Colonial Linear Trail and eventually up to Hanson Street. (It would be great to go all the way to downtown Fort Myers, but let’s wish for one thing at a time.)
Let’s hope a county commissioner or two starts asking about the status of the trailhead park once everyone is back from break next week. The funding source is there, the permitting was moving apace… so let’s get this back on track and under construction.
The linear park is a great facility… let’s make it available to more people to enjoy.
Ready to ride or run?
Run? Not much in organized races until the end of August, with the Aug. 24 Rampage 5K on Aug. 24 at North Collier Regional Park (runelitevents.com). Once we get to September, your race schedule starts ramping up again.
Ride? Critical Mass keeps things moving through the sultry summer, with the big downtown ride Friday night, and Sanibel ride Aug. 10 and the NE Lee ride Aug. 16. These all are night rides, so front and rear bike lights required; helmets recommended for all (meetup.com).
Both? Upcoming events include:
- Sunday, Aug. 4: Siesta Sprint Triathlon/Duathlon (trifind.com)
- Monday, Sept. 2: Venice Sprint Tri, Sharky’s on the Pier, Venice (trifind.com)
- Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 7-8: Galloway Captiva Tri. Sprint on Saturday, kids’ events Sunday (https://www.gearedup.biz/captiva-triathlon)
- Saturday, Sept. 21: The Original Siesta Key Tri, sprint (runsignup.com)
- Willing to drive? Check trifind.com or active.com for tris around the state.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.
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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org.