Tuesday, September 19, 2017

UPDATED Action Alert: Support Seminole Gulf Railroad corridor trail between Bonita Springs and Estero--Ask State to restore trail to Priority Florida Greenways and Trails Map

9/19/17 UPDATE: Shortly after posting this Action Alert 2 weeks ago, Hurricane Irma struck. The Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) workshops listed below have been postponed for now. When new dates are available, an updated blog will be posted.

It is important that written comments are submitted to OGT. To facilitate completing the comment form, here is a link to a Word Version of the form so that you can type in your comments and attach them in an email to OGT.

Tips for filling out the comment form:
  • Leave the first page of comments for the FGTS 2018-22 Plan blank.
  • Under the Comment Section (second page) on the Draft Land or Paddling Trail Opportunity Maps refer to the Draft Southern Region Opportunity and Priority Trail Map, (also mention that you support FDEP's addition of the Imperial/Three Oaks Trail from Bonita Beach Road to Alico Road, consistent with the Lee MPO request.
  • Under the Comments for the Draft 2018 Priority Trails Map, refer to the Priority Trail Map for the Draft Southern Region Opportunity and Priority Land Trails Map and ask them to restore the SGLR alignment. Also thank them for adding the Coastal Loop through the Town of Fort Myers Beach and City of Bonita Springs and the SR 78/80 Corridor in Lee County to fill the void for the removal of the River of Grass Greenway (ROGG).

Since BikeWalkLee's inception in 2009, it has been a strong supporter of the vision of a connected and integrated statewide trail system throughout Florida.  [BWL 2016 Letter ] While a statewide trail map was developed in 1998, the initiative gained momentum beginning in 2014 when the State Legislature provided annual funding ($25 M/year) for the SUN Trail program that uses the Florida Greenways and Trails Plan and maps to prioritize funding for the system.  This Plan and maps (last updated in 2015) will guide implementation of the connected statewide trail system from 2018 through 2022.  Since 2015, the Lee MPO has proposed several new segments for the trail, which need to be incorporated into the updated maps.

We are concerned that the revised statewide trail maps contained in the draft FGTS update have deleted the Seminole Gulf Railroad right of way corridor between Bonita Springs and Estero that has been on the FGTS map since the beginning
as the primary spine for the Southwest Coast Connector (aka Gulf Coast Trail) in Lee County,.  It is critical that this trail be added back as a Priority trail before the update is finalized.  Why is this important? Because being a "Priority Trail" gives you priority for SUN Trail funds.  Bonita and Estero officials have been working jointly over the past 8 months to move this "rails-to-trails" project forward, with strong support from their communities. 

Please submit comments in support of this project as requested in the Lee MPO's email request (see below), or attend next week's public workshop in North Port (9/14) to express your support in person.  Thank you! 
Introduction (by Office of Greenways and Trails)

"The Florida Greenways and Trails Plan establishes the vision for implementing a connected statewide system of greenways and trails for recreation, conservation, alternative transportation, healthy lifestyles, a vibrant economy, and a high quality of life. The Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) is updating the FGTS 5-Year Plan and holding 14 public open houses throughout the state. "

Lee MPO Email 9/5/17:
URGENT: Please Submit Comments to Office of Greenways and Trails to Restore the Seminole Gulf Alignment to the Priority Trails Map

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has released its Final Draft Priority Trails Map for the Southern Region that includes Lee County, and it is disappointing to see that they have removed the Seminole Gulf Railroad (SGLR) alignment from the Draft 2018-2022 Update of the Priority Trails Map. This is inconsistent with the Lee MPO Board resolution that was adopted back in February 17, 2017 which urged the Florida Greenways and Trails Council to (1) add the proposed Coastal Loop to the Priority Trails Map while (2) maintaining the SGLR Right of Way as the primary spine for the Southwest Coast Connector (aka Gulf Coast Trail) in Lee County, and thereby continuing to maintain that alignment in the Priority Trails Map. That resolution was transmitted to the FDEP Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) staff on the same day it was adopted by the Lee MPO. 

Staff had subsequent discussions with OGT staff where we had consistently and repeatedly urged OGT staff to recommend that the SGLR alignment be maintained while adding the Coastal Loop in the Draft Priority Trails Map Update. They had said that the OGT Council would not approve loops in urban areas, yet OGT staff went and added a proposed loop trail requested in Sarasota Manatee County in the draft Priority Trails Map for Council consideration, but denied our request. The Sarasota loop trail can be found in the West Central Florida Region Map.

A Joint Resolution was adopted by the Central Florida MPO Alliance and the TBARTA MPO Chairs Coordinating Committee in June 16, 2017, that had endorsed the Lee and other MPOs proposed changes to alignments in their respective counties to the South West Coast Connector (aka Gulf Coast Trail).

Please fill the attached comment sheet [Comment Form]:
asking OGT Council and staff to restore the SGLR ROW alignment in the Southern Region Draft Priority Trail Map. Make sure that you ALSO write in the comment sheet expressing your thanks and support to OGT staff for adding the Coastal Loop and the SR 78/80 Corridor in Lee County to the Draft Priority Trails Map. 

 In addition to Samantha Browne, please cc OGT Council Chair Brian Smith at smithozona@gmail.com . We would like you to send your comments as soon as possible, and if possible attend one of the public open houses either in Sebring or North Port for input on the draft priority map for the Southern Region to express your concerns in person. The open houses in Sebring and North Port are as follows:

"The Public Workshops scheduled for September (see below) will be rescheduled for a later date due to the potential of Hurricane Irma impacting the state.  This will allow individuals to focus on preparing their communities and families for the storm.  The Office of Greenways and Trails will send out more information once new dates have been confirmed."

Thursday, September 14 – North Port
Morgan Family Community Center, Meeting Room A/B
6207 West Price Boulevard, North Port, FL 34291
4:00-7:00 ET

Monday, September 11 - Sebring
Bert J. Harris, Jr. Agricultural Center, Conference Room #2
4509 George Boulevard, Sebring, FL 33875

4:00-7:00 ET

Related BikeWalkLee Blog Posts:

October 12, 2016: Cape Receives $1.8 Million SUN Trail Grant to Design Multi-Use Trail in North Cape

March 9, 2016: Moser Column: Cross-country bicycling network offers local benefits

March 7,2016: BikeWalkLee supports Southwest Coastal Regional Trail

Report by Darla Letourneau

No comments:

Post a Comment

BikeWalkLee is not responsible for the validity of any comment posted at this site and has the right to remove any comment at any time.