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Local group wants new bike park in Ashland Creek Park

A group of local mountain bikers is seeking the city’s support to build a community bike skills park in Ashland Creek Park that would be accessible for riders as young as 2 years old.

Members of Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association is spearheading the effort in an attempt to “bridge the gap” for younger riders, who might not be able to ride the mountain trails in Ashland.

“We think it’s a good fit for Ashland,” said avid biker and organizer Casey Botts. “We have a lot of great mountain trails here in town, but they are not necessarily easy to get to for young kids.”

The proposal, will be presented to the parks commission Monday at its study session, is asking for commitment from the city and a donation of land within Ashland Creek Park, while proposing to fundraise to cover construction costs of roughly $200,000, according to the letter of intent from RVMBA.

Interim Parks Superintendent Jeff McFarland said the initiative was brought to staff several months ago. While staff supports proposals to provide more recreational activities in the city, it’s up to the commission to sign off on the project, McFarland said.

“It is an initial proposal at this point,” he said. “There are a lot of things to be considered, and many of them are up in the air.”

The proposal envisions “a more accessible and inclusive bike park” than the existing BMX park adjacent to Ashland Dog Park, according to Botts.

“I feel like that park is somewhat tucked away,” Botts said of the BMX park. “The proposed location for the new park is near schools and would be more visible. … I want this park to be something the city could be proud of.”

The proposal is based on parks in Washington, California and Prineville, Oregon, according to Botts.

The group is proposing two designs, either a “one-pump” track with beginner, intermediate and advanced lines or two-pump tracks that separate beginner line with intermediate and advanced line. So-called “pump tracks” offer an undulating path with banked turns for riders who use a pumping action as they navigate the circuit.

Both designs would be built from asphalt with grass islands on the interior. It would also feature elements such as jumps and rollers that would “offer a realistic simulation of watershed trails,” the proposal reads.

Its target users are kids and families, Botts said.

“We want to build a park that would be inclusive to all bikers and skaters,” Botts said. “On the other hand, we want to add in different features so that you won’t grow out of it.”

Botts, who also jumpstarted a mountain bike team in Ashland Middle School and high school this year, said he moved to Ashland two years after a number of visits throughout the year. The Bay Area native said he was “blown away” by the outdoor sports community and the trails in the area.

“That’s why we want to build this park — we want to foster the next generation of bikers,” Botts said. “The more kids we could get on bikes, the better.”

Both Botts and McFarland said there’s no timeline for the project, pending the interest level from parks commission.

The BMX park was also a citizen initiative brought to parks department in 1997. The park wasn’t completed until 2004 as it quickly became rundown due to lack of maintenance. In 2016, the park was revamped after a clean-up effort spearheaded by an Eagle Boy Scout.

Botts said he can’t speak to the effort back then, but assured that his proposal is doable.

“We do have people who worked on that project working on this project,” he said. “And we are investing in it. … I believe that the motivation behind this will take us there.”

The parks commission will also consider drafting a proposal to acquire Pioneer Hall, as the City Council is seeking options for what to do with a facility with at price tag of at least $325,000 in renovations.

The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 14, at The Grove, 1195 E. Main St.

—Reach reporter Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or tnguyen@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.