The program continued with interesting and thought-provoking panels, kicked off by long-time SUNTrail and Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan pioneer Jim Wood with a panel of representatives from FDOT, OGT and ECFRPC.
The second panel, led by Maggie Ardito, featured representatives from OGT, FDOT'S Scenic Highway Program, Volusia County and creative artist and marketing specialist Linda Brandt and focused on leveraging partnerships and sharing assets. Maggie spoke on the importance of agreed conventions and styles in order to share maps and marketing material. She emphasized the importance of forming "Special Interest Action Groups" to focus on specific issues and stated that she will follow up to help these get started. She introduced the new River to Sea Loop Nature and History Corridor program initiated via a grant from REI and showed the sign that will soon be installed near Deltona. The graphic artwork for the sign was developed by Loop supporter Brandt Ronat who also developed the logo for the Loop and for the Alliance based on original work by Karl Soderholm. Linda Brandt spoke on the importance of establishing a recognizable shared brand and the power of a shared library of digital assets.
Tim Baylie spoke on the signs now in process for the Coast to Coast Trail and the St Johns River-to-Sea Loop and how the design included flexibility to incorporate regional information and to be updated over time. Danielle Anderson, Administrator of the A1A Scenic Highway, talked on the value of leveraging partnerships. and the collaboration between Scenic HIghways, bike clubs and trail support organizations like the Alliance. Donald Morgan discussed sharing and conventions for GIS data and the maps that OGT has developed using GIS data from the Alliance and FDOT.
After lunch, Joy Hancock of Bike Florida led a panel on economic benefits of trails with a panel that included representatives from two Trail Towns, Titusville and Deltona, and DeBary, whose Trail Town application is in process.
Titusville demonstrated the power of their Converging Trails and Launch from Here campaigns. Deltona and DeBary discussed plans for leveraging the trails. Both cities recognize the value the Loop and Coast to Coast Trail are bringing to the community, and are beginning to recognize the importance of supporting these trails.
The next panel was co-chaired by Tim Baylie, who presented cost/benefit information and provided specific information to towns and counties on how to cover cost of sustaining trails by increases in real estate taxes due to improved property values and reduction in related costs such as health care. He mentioned Diabetes as an example - Diabetes is becoming an epidemic that accounts for 20% of health care costs and is .
Pat Northey then spoke on the importance of advocacy and how to identify and nurture champions. She emphasized the urgent need for every partner and advocate to identify potential "Champions" (potentially bike- and trail-friendly elected officials or others with decision making authority) in their jurisdiction and work with organizations like the Alliance to remove obstacles. She mentioned past champions like Andy Gardner and John Mica who were able to overcome barriers and make things happen. We need to grow a new "crop of champions" if we are to fulfill the Loop's promise. She describe the Volusia Leadership Team that she led during her 20 years on the Volusia County Council - it started small, meeting every two months, and grew to be the foundation of the wonderful network of trails in Volusia County that were a contributing factor to the selection of the River to Sea Loop as one of two top-priority Florida SUNTrails.
Sarah Kraum of the Space Coast TPO spoke on the varied communities required to advance trails in Brevard and emphasized the importance of collaborative leadership that organizations like the TPOs can lead. She described the founding by the Space Coast TPO of the Brevard Coast to Coast and St Johns River to Sea Loop Leadership council, which meets monthly with representatives from every trail stakeholder and serves as an excellent model for other counties to follow.
The final panel was lead by Heather Neville, director of Velofest who spoke on the organization's impact on the bike-friendliness of St Augustine and on the importance of partnerships working together to exploit the power of social media, The panel included information on the study now in progress in St Johns County presented by Karl Soderholm. Karl serves on the Board of River to Sea Loop Alliance, and is principal at ETM, Inc. Karl is one of the original Loop advocates working to advance the Loop since 2010 and he is the creator of the original Loop logo on which the current logo is based. Karl described the complicated process of routing through dense urban areas. Herb Hiller made the point that only by working closely with the private sector can we hope to make progress in urban areas. Large companies are becoming more interested in active transportation and employee health and have the power and resources to have positive impact. Every stakeholder should be reaching out to them to assist in the planning phase. The panel also included Tim Burman, Port Orange, who spoke on how community involvement can work with routing studies to arrive at optimal trail routing.