Gray skies didn’t dampen the enthusiasm today from the crowd of city and state leaders, college students and residents that gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the new Stadium Enclave/Elberta Crate extension of the St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail.
The new, 12-foot-wide, primarily asphalt trail begins near the intersection of Gaines Street and Lake Bradford Road, traveling to FAMU Way near the Gamble Street roundabout. It provides safe and convenient access to Cascades Park to the north and the city’s new Tallahassee Junction Park and the St. Marks trail to the south.
Members of the Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association led other cyclists and walkers down the trail following the formal ribbon cutting.
The grand opening marked the end of a 20-year quest to create the trail, which had been stymied for decades by the inability to acquire land or right of way from CSX Railroad.
“For Zimmer Development Company and Stadium Enclave, being a part of the community runs even deeper than just our project. When the city planners shared their frustration at not being able to acquire a CSX Railroad parcel for decades to accommodate the desire for a trail extension, I made a commitment to seeing this trail become a reality. We were able to buy all the necessary land from the old CEMEX cement plant, CSX and other necessary pieces to make it all come together,” Landon Zimmer, partner with Zimmer Development Company, told the crowd. “We believe in building a legacy in the communities where we invest, and we are proud to be building a legacy here in Tallahassee and as a neighbor to Florida State University.”
The new trail is also a source of pride for State officials according to Eric Draper, director of the Division of Recreation and Parks for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
“The Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail is a terrific resource, and this extension has made it easier to get on the trail. Easy trail access for Tallahassee residents and students at FSU, FAMU and TCC means more people can safely enjoy bicycling, walking and jogging,” he said. “This is a great addition to the state’s trail network and will help make Florida happier and healthier.”
The trail features a people and pet water fountain at the extension’s start near Lake Bradford Road. Adding trails to the region’s network not only improves access for residents but can serve as an economic development tool in attracting visitors to ride the region’s trails. Tallahassee Mountain Biking Association President Jimmy Card told the audience that his group is working with the city and county to help attract even more visitors as Tallahassee becomes the best winter ride location in the southeast.
The new trail is now open and accessible to the public.
“Today we celebrate the next step toward our community goal to become a Gold Certified Bike Community,” said City Commissioner Nancy Miller. “Through a partnership between the city and Zimmer Development, this important link connecting the FSU campus and the St. Marks Trail has been accomplished, fulfilling a 20-year dream that allows residents and visitors to bike and walk more safely.”
Miller encouraged residents to come experience the new trail, new vistas and access it provides the community.