Talks Underway To Outsource Trails Sponsorship Program

December 28, 2013

The state is negotiating with a private company to take over a park sponsorship program after failing to get any businesses to pay for advertisements along some of Florida’s prime trails — including the Blackwater Heritage Trail.

New York-based Bikepath Country has offered to give the state 30 percent of any revenue over 15 years in exchange for making signs and seeking corporate sponsors for the controversial program, which went into effect more than a year ago.

Bikepath Country was the only entity to submit a proposal regarding the trail signs after a Department of Environmental Protection conference call with potential sponsors this summer. The company reportedly runs similar programs in parts of New York, Tennessee, Arizona and Texas.

DEP, in talks with Bikepath Country since August, held an internal meeting Dec. 18 on the proposal but the deal remains in limbo, according to DEP spokesman Patrick Gillespie.

“We are currently negotiating with the company and the current proposal is being reviewed internally,” Gillespie said in an email. “I won’t have more information on the terms until those negotiations conclude.”

Bikepath is proposing trailhead signs up to 16-square-feet and 13 access point signs up to 4-square-feet at seven parks at “no proposed cost” to the state.

On its webpage, the company claims to design “attractive and non-obtrusive” eco-friendly signs.

The Legislature’s first attempt at approving the park trail advertisements died in 2011 after opponents objected that the ads would become an intrusive distraction for those visiting pristine state lands.

But proponents claimed awarding naming rights and allowing the commercial displays could help cover or replace some of the estimated $1 million a year the state spends annually to upkeep public trails, and Gov. Rick Scott signed “The John Anthony Wilson Bicycle Safety Act” into law in 2012. The law limits the wording on the signs, which can depict a corporate logo and can say the business “proudly sponsors the costs of maintaining” the trail but cannot include a company’s slogan.

The law only allows the advertisements at seven trails: Blackwater Heritage Trail, Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, Palatka-Lake Butler State Trail, Nature Coast State Trail, Withlacoochee State Trail, General James A. Van Fleet State Trail and the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.

Under the law, 85 percent of the proceeds from the concessions agreement must be put into trust funds for greenway and trail management. The remaining 15 percent is slated for Department of Transportation safety programs.

Pictured: The Blackwater Heritage Trail near Milton. Courtesy images for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Comments

10 Responses to “Talks Underway To Outsource Trails Sponsorship Program”

  1. Jane on December 30th, 2013 3:22 am

    At least keep the money in the state of Florida. Hire someone local…you have the talent here…use it!

  2. Vikingwench on December 28th, 2013 4:03 pm

    Of course, they could always charge a fee for using the trail. I’m sure joggers and other trail users would much rather pay to use the trail rather than have a few well-regulated signs on the trails to pay for maintenance.

  3. Frank on December 28th, 2013 3:54 pm

    You do not want signs CHARGE USERS. I don’t use it why should My taxes have to pay for you to have a trail?

    I pay to visit the National sea shores and don’t mind doing it so it is kept up and pristine :-)

    Just saying NOTHING IS FREE!

  4. Jack Johnson on December 28th, 2013 1:35 pm

    I love the idea of getting in a spiritual place on a jog along a Creek and seeing a big BP sign!

  5. Dennis on December 28th, 2013 10:44 am

    I agree with what everyone has said but it is this, tax dollars or no maintenance which means closure at some point.

  6. A. on December 28th, 2013 9:37 am

    It’s bad enough that we have to tolerate “dancing monkeys” popping up all over the screen as we peruse the internet (that we already paid for). Must we also clutter the last bastion of solitude in nature with ads and clever marketing schemes?

  7. Concur on December 28th, 2013 8:04 am

    I agree completely with the other post. The whole idea to hike, bike or jog on these trails is to escape from the hustle and bustle. To be away from the traffic, car horns, sirens, etc. It’s a time to escape and be with nature. Nothing man made should be allowed on these trails, with the exception of the machine laid asphalt, bridges and benches. Of course, I’d just as soon run without the asphalt and bridges, but it is very nice to have. My point is “we don’t need no stinking signs and we don’t want no stinking signs” cluttering up our trails with stupid advertising. We are bombarded with that propaganda everyday from billboards, tv ads, radio ads, internet pop up ads, even people looking like fools standing on the side of the road spinning signs. You can’t seem to escape the barrage of ad’s regardless of where you go, with the exception of a camping trip or a nature/hiking trail. So, please reconsider placing ads within the trail system. Think of another way to fund the program other than ads along the trails.

  8. Exactly! on December 28th, 2013 7:19 am

    @ Max:
    My thoughts exactly!

  9. Robert S. on December 28th, 2013 7:19 am

    The whole concept of these beautiful trails is that the people using them can get away from the noise and commercialization of every day life. The solitude, quiet, closeness with flora and fauna is healing and comforting to hikers and bikers, no motorized vehicles for a reason.
    To clutter this with advertising and other sorts of signs is totally against the original intent of these areas.
    Perhaps if the users of these trails said they would boycott the companies who have their signs in these areas it would help curtail this intrusion by greedy government.

  10. Max on December 28th, 2013 4:34 am

    Great! Just what you want to see when you go to some of “Florida’s prime trails” and parks. Advertisements littering the place! Keep them to the roadways if you must have them!





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