A low-key groundbreaking on April 15 marked the official start of the second ADA-compliant trail at Oscar Scherer State Park. One of 100 citizen support organizations (CSO) in Florida’s park system, the Friends of Oscar Scherer Park are creating the new trail by combining a $50,000 donation from Lee Wetherington Homes with the volunteer services of their 200-member group and an engineering study by the Florida Park Service over an old footpath.
Russell Delaney, president of the Friends of Oscar Scherer Park, describes the project as the first part of a four-pronged Lake Osprey Improvement plan. The one-third-mile long trail surrounds the lake and is accordingly named “Lake Osprey Trail.” Oscar Scherer State Park will open its new attraction to the public with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, June 5, 12:30pm, in conjunction with the observance of National Trails Day, said John J. Roche, park manager. Lake Osprey Trail and the Lester Finley Barrier Free Trail, one of Florida’s first accessible trails and the Park’s other ADA-compliant trail, both meet and in many ways exceed requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Roche said.
At the groundbreaking, Delaney and Roche welcomed Lee Wetherington, founder and president of Lee Wetherington Homes, as well as Friends members Bruce Snyder, co-chair of the Lake Osprey Improvement plan and campground host/Nature Center volunteer Bill White, a wheelchair-bound volunteer.
The event began in the Nature Center, where Delaney reviewed the Park’s use of ongoing contributions from Lee Wetherington Homes and later also the Lee Wetherington Foundation since 2003. At that time, the custom home builder began donating at least $5,000 annually to underwrite the Friends’ Scrub Jay 5K race which is the major fundraiser for the Friends organization.
“Both the Friends and the Park are enormously appreciative of the many donations from Lee Wetherington,” Delaney said, noting that the $50,000 funding for Lake Osprey improvements represents a contribution of $250 for each home sold in Willowbend, a neighboring Lee Wetherington development. Other Wetherington-funded projects include the installation of 66 shade trees in the lake area and a revamped Nature Center with a screened pavilion that is primarily used for children’s programs and special events.
Roche took the opportunity to thank the Friends of Oscar Scherer Park for their invaluable services. “The Friends donated nearly 26,500 thousand hours of labor last year, the equivalent of 13 fulltime positions,” he said. He reported that the Florida Park Service has consistently recognized the Friends of Oscar Scherer in its annual awards programs.
For more information on the upcoming ribbon cutting event call (941) 483-5956.
Photo Left to Right: John J. Roche, park manager, Oscar Scherer State Park; Russell Delaney, president, Friends of Oscar Scherer Park and Lee Wetherington
Photo Credit: Ed Burns