LIVE OAK — It still isn’t officially 100 percent finished, but the expansion of Heritage Trail has already been seeing traffic.
“People are excited about it,” Suwannee Parks and Recreation Director Greg Scott said. “When we were doing the 90 percent inspection a while back, they were, ‘Good job. Thank y’all.’ They were using it before we actually had inspected it.
“We haven’t heard any negatives.”
The new addition to the trail extends the walking and biking path from Helvenston Street to the southern limit of the City of Live Oak, past Itchetucknee Road/Miller Street.
In all, Heritage Trail is about 1.5 miles long to its starting point at Howard St.
“The idea is people can start at one end and do a loop or park in the middle and do a couple loops or half loops and do whatever distance they want,” Scott added.
Both Scott and Jason Furry said that has been occurring even as they try and finalize the project, which was funded through the Florida Department of Transportation’s Rails to Trails program. In all, the project cost close to $700,000.
That included the new paved trail as well as installing lighting on the original trail. The conduits for the lights had previously been installed. The trail extension is also ready for lighting whenever the funding becomes available.
“If there’s a benefactor that wanted to just say, ‘Hey, I’d really like to pay to light it,’ we’d certainly be glad to accept that,” Scott added.
Lights aren’t the only addition to the original portion of Heritage Trail. Utilizing some of the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program grant funding that was used for the playground addition and turf field at Heritage Park, a piece of exercise equipment was added to the trail near Helvenston Street. Another piece sits near Howard Street, although that piece came more by luck.
“A vendor at a trade show one time was getting ready to leave and I said something about his equipment,” Scott said. “He said, ‘I’ve got to ship it back, do you just want to take it?’
“So we just put it in the back of the truck and brought it home.
“We’ll take anything.”
Long term, Scott’s vision for the trail is to be connected to the Greenway down in Branford as well as extending it north to the Suwannee River near the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Scott, though, knows that’s an expensive vision.
But he said it could lead to visitors at the Music Park utilizing the trail to come visit Live Oak. Or it could lead to visitors solely to check out the trail.
“In our business it’s pretty cool when you do something, go through all the layers and the steps, but whenever you get done and you can just watch, whether it’s a kid playing baseball on a baseball field or someone trying to get some exercise in and help their lifestyle on the trails, it’s just rewarding to see that benefit for the individual,” Scott said.