Free 1.1-mile trail could be completed as early as March
By Meagan McGone
VIERA - Bikers, runners and walkers might have an exciting path to take next spring, thanks to a partnership between the Brevard Zoo, A. Duda & Sons, and the Brevard County Parks and Recreation Department.
Construction could start as early as this fall on The Brevard Zoo Trail, a free, off-road recreational trail that will initially begin at the Brevard Zoo and head south for 1.1 miles. Plans for the trail have been designed, and once the county bids our the construction work, it could be completed as early as March.
It is a project more than 10 years in the making, and its estimated cost of $2 million will be funded through bond money from two referendums, passed in 2000 and 2006, said Keith Winsten, the Brevard Zoo's executive director.
"I'm really excited about what this will offer for the community," he said. "The trail will be built on a beautiful piece of property that is rich with wildlife."
The property, including the trailhead and the actual trail, will belong to A. Duda and Sons, the corporate parent of The Viera Company that donated land for the project, Mr. Winsten said. The parking and entry road to the trail will be on Brevard Zoo property, maintained by the zoo.
"So we're ensuring that from dawn to dusk, anyone who wants to park there will have access to available parking there," Mr. Winsten said.
"Everyone is concerned about adding additional costs for maintenance," he added. "The zoo will be responsible for the trail and for maintaining it."
Erin McDonald, a Melbourne resident who frequents the area's parks with her children, said the trail presents an opportunity for residents to stay active in a fun way.
"My kids will absolutely love it," she said. "Especially if it's affiliated with the zoo. They love animals."
However, Mr. Winsten said it is unlikely trail goers will see any zoo animals during their adventures. The only view of the zoo that people might see from the trail will be the back of the animal hospital.
In the future, a second phase for the trail could bring bikers, runners and walkers to the Pineda Causeway extension, giving them easy pedestrian access to the beaches.
"It is really exciting," Mr. Winsten said. "This supports the Brevard Zoo's efforts for outdoor recreation. Now, we'll be offering this wonderful bike and pedestrian trail. Eventually, we want to do bike rentals at the zoo, so people pulling off (Interstate) 95 can stay at a hotel around the corner, eat at local restaurants and head to the beach along this beautiful trail."