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Bay Oaks eyes running trail around campus

May 7, 2014
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Bay Oaks Recreational Campus staff and committee members are discussing the possibility of constructing a running trail around the perimeter of the campus or within parts of the property.

The project is in the infant stage while determinations are being made to see if any wetlands or mangroves would be impacted if the course meandered within the more natural areas of the campus' backside.

While the proposed trail has not been measured, a rough estimate would have the length being one-third of a mile to half a mile.

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A proposed running trail is being discussed among members of a Town advisory board and park & recreation staff as well as endorsed by one of the five Council members. If it is brought to Council's attention and approved, the course may be half a mile long and encompass some woodsy areas.

"Not too long again our Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board came up with the idea to have an area designated for running around our campus. Right now we really don't have anything like that," said Bay Oaks Athletic & Fitness Coordinator Adam Leicht. "I have two ideas in mind right now, one going around the campus and our building and around the treeline of our property and another to have a track in around the bigger baseball field, which is probably a quarter-mile there. If both were combined, it would probably extend close to half a mile."

Leicht met with Environmental Sciences Coordinator Keith Laakkonen and Deputy Public Works Director Scott Baker to check on the viability of the course going within the back area trees to create more of a scenic nature trail.

"We checked to see if it would even be possible with all of our wetland areas and mangroves," said Leicht. "Keith told me what was possible and was not possible. He was very informative."

Non-skid boardwalk sections may be needed in the wetland areas, as well as state permits. That, and a clay warning track around the baseball field for better traction, may be the only costs associated with the project.

"There are two wetland areas we have to work around. One would be between our pond and the backside of our fence of our small baseball field, and the other would be towards the back of the campus by our south tennis courts closest to the Beach school. That mangrove area would need some type of manmade boardwalk."

If the project is approved by the Fort Myers Beach Town Council in the future, there could be the possibility of 5-kilometer races being held at that location. Since five kilometers equals 3.100686 miles, a 5-k race would require at least six laps around the trail, if it extended half a mile.

Councilwoman Summer Stockton is an avid runner. She completed the half-marathon portion of the recent Beach Marathon and will be competing in the Lovers Key State Park Turtle Trot this Saturday.

"I think anything that promotes health and fitness in our community is a wonderful thing," she said. "I certainly think this is a great project and can't wait until it comes to a fruition."

Stockton, who met with Leicht to check on the proposed trail's route, would definitely endorse the scenic portion of the trail within the trees and would also like to see fitness stations incorporated as well as signage to show trail markers and distance.

Those points were discussed during a fitness trail report at the BORCAB meeting last Thursday. The consensus leans toward the combination of the two proposed trails to give it some length.

"Obviously, I would like to make it more extended, so that people are not running around in complete circles," said Leicht. "I am hoping to add the landscape aspect to it, so people can run around the trees and get a nice view. It's coming along well so far. It is definitely a possibility."



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