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Sanibel’s new Heritage Trail

By Staff | May 30, 2018

To the editor:

If you looked through the materials that came with the city’s utility bill last week, you may have noticed a flyer on Sanibel’s new Heritage Trail. It’s worth considering the significance of this project for our community.

Sanibel is a very special place with a rich heritage, thanks to the vision and hard work of our forbearers. As residents of our small town community, it is up to us to preserve the island’s “quality as sanctuary and as community, living in harmony with one another and with nature” (excerpt from Sanibel’s Vision Statement). To be good stewards of the rich heritage of this island requires continuous engagement and education of new residents. Every year, fewer and fewer residents have first-hand experience with Sanibel’s early years as a city, so it becomes important to proactively promote the value of stewardship of the island.

The recently completed Sanibel’s Heritage Trail is a significant and ongoing way to educate and promote stewardship of the island’s heritage. Many of us residents had no idea that a dedicated group of Sanibelians that were members of the city’s Historical Preservation Committee, led by Don Adams and Deborah Gleason, have been working since 2011 on bringing the idea of a heritage trail to fruition, with support from city council and staff, the planning commission, “Ding” Darling and others in the community. The committee’s goal was to display Sanibel’s history in a comprehensive way – from the pioneer experience, conservation of the island’s natural resources, the causeway, incorporation and all the other parts of what has shaped Sanibel today.

I am deeply grateful to the team that had the foresight, commitment and perseverance to work on this project for the past seven years. It’s a wonderful gift to our community and greatly enhances the experience of seeing the island while biking and walking on the shared use path system. Integrating the 14-mile Heritage Trail – with 22 panels located along the way – with the island-wide Shared Use Path system further solidifies the island’s well-earned reputation as a “bikeable/walkable community.”

If you’re thinking that the Heritage Trail is “just for visitors,” you would be dead wrong. I’ve been an engaged Sanibel resident for 17 years and I’m learning more about this island’s heritage each time I pull my bike off the path to read one of the panels. Now that the busy season is over, it’s a great time for you to hop on your bike and take a leisurely ride along the Heritage Trail to renew your appreciation of what our forbearers have handed down to us for our safekeeping. Thanks to everyone involved in bringing this project to life. I can’t wait for the Heritage Trail phone app to come online!

Darla Letourneau