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HomeBusiness & CommunityGood Neighbor Trail Maintenance Agreement Gains Approval

Good Neighbor Trail Maintenance Agreement Gains Approval

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After a brief delay, the maintenance agreement for the Good Neighbor Trail gained approval from the Brooksville City Council.

At an April 1 meeting, the council decided to push back a decision on the maintenance agreement, requesting a representative from the Florida Department of Transportation to provide clarification.

That’s exactly what happened at the April 15 meeting when Justin Hall, director of transportation development for FDOT District 7, spoke to the council both before and during the meeting. Hall was able to fully assuage the council’s concerns, leading to a unanimous vote to adopt the agreement.

“The city has been an amazing supporter of the Florida Department of Transportation the whole time I’ve been here,” Hall said. “Through multiple councils, Hernando County and the city of Brooksville have been an absolute blessing to the state.

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“… That trail is a tank. I am not worried about that trail at all. We’ll continue to maintain the way we’ve been maintaining. So the fact that the trail is there along (State Road) 50, we’ll mow that whole area just like we mow it now. Really, it’s just a matter of what you guys want to do above and beyond.”

“For a while there, I felt like as a city we were looking at an agreement that I was concerned about were we going to be able to uphold our end and be a good partner with FDOT,” vice mayor Christa Tanner said to Hall. “We’ve worked so well together and just even during my time on council, I’ve been very grateful for the open dialogue.

“I was just concerned that we could uphold our end of it and your explanation of some of these things, I feel better. I feel like we’re going to continue to be able to be a good steward and a good partner.”

In simplest terms, according to Hall, the FDOT will mow the grass on the 10-mile trail that runs from downtown Brooksville to the Withlacoochee State Forest and maintain the area to its standards in accordance with the state’s SUN Trail agreement.

“Like on 50, we’re going to mow on 50 like we always have. We’re going to mow right up to the edge of the trail just like we always do,” Hall said. “The problem is we get a lot of times, ‘What if we want to maintain it above and beyond what you maintain? What if we want it mowed more frequently than what you mow?’ That’s what the maintenance agreement is meant to cover. If you don’t like the way we mow and want to edge it, that’s on you.

“… In the majority of our trails in Hernando County, the Withlacoochee trail, a lot of these trails that we have where they’re either along a state road or cross a state road, etc., that’s how we’re maintaining it and they’re not maintaining it above and beyond that.”

Hall agreed with council members who believe the city has been a good partner with FDOT and the plan is to reciprocate.

“This isn’t a situation where it’s like a gotcha moment, you took the trail and now it’s yours and we run away laughing,” Hall said.

Several supporters of the trail spoke when the floor was opened for public comment. Though Brooksville Mayor Blake Bell began the presentation expressing his criticism of the trail, including the spending previous councils decided to put into it, he insisted it was now the job of the council to maintain the trail as it does any other park.

“I am hopeful I am proven wrong with the Good Neighbor Trail,” Bell said. “I’ve already received a lot of good information about the statistics with people coming through the city and I hope my concerns are just me being cautious, conservative and overly protective of Brooksville.

“I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m hopeful the Good Neighbor Trail is good for our community. Because at the end of the day, if it is good for Brooksville, it’s good for all of us. So I urge the cyclists here tonight and the ones listening, make sure you use our trail in Brooksville more than any other trail in the state. Stop throughout Brooksville, go to our local spots.

“… Spend lots of money on Brooksville and please, please, please prove me wrong.”

Also, at the April 15 meeting, the council approved the signing of a new promissory note covering costs of delays in the trail’s construction. The relocation of a water main along the path of the trail on W. Jefferson Street was supposed to be completed by May 11, 2022, but wasn’t finished until July 18, 2023.

FDOT originally proposed a 3-year payback term, then granted the city’s request for a 6-year term. A total of $125,140.74 will be distributed over that period, with a monthly payment of $20,856.

Chris Bernhardt
Chris Bernhardt
A resident of Spring Hill since 1986, Chris graduated from Springstead High in 1999 before moving on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Central Florida. In summer of 2003 he joined the staff at Hernando Today, working at the paper for 11 years as a sports reporter, the last three as sports coordinator in charge of the paper’s sports coverage. After an initial 3-year stint with Hernando Sun, he spent four years as a staff sports reporter at the Citrus County Chronicle. Follow on X @cpbernhardtjr.
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