City Parks & Open Space Gives Little Hope For Local Mountain Bike Trails

This information was shared on the Disciples of Dirt Yahoo Group last week by the DOD Executive Board and I thought it was important to share with the general bike community as well. One of the missing pieces to Eugene’s Platinum Bike Friendly Community status is good local mountain bike possibilities. Making trails accessible for people without the need to drive to them, especially for getting kids and families out there, is an important goal for us to be working towards. So far there has been a lot of talk and some dashed hopes from the Parks department when it comes to getting more trails in town. What we need is action. Thanks to DOD members putting time and effort towards this goal! Please consider contacting City leaders and Parks & Open Space staff to tell them if you think this is important as well (information at the end of the post).

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Last week, members of the Disciples of Dirt (DOD) Executive Board met with City of Eugene Parks and Open Space (POS) staff in hopes of beginning the formal process of adopting Arlie Park, which would have involved the Disciples of Dirt agreeing to construct approximately 5 miles of trails that would be open to bikes as well as hikers. These discussions have been going on for several months, and everything we were hearing suggested that we may be able to begin building trails before the end of 2011.

In this meeting, the DOD Board were told some very disappointing news. The City of Eugene’s funding problems will prevent them from doing the required preliminary work that would be needed prior to beginning trail construction. City of Eugene Parks and Open Space Division has a significant Parks maintenance budget shortfall, and they are taking drastic measures to try and reduce their operating expenses. While DOD was prepared to provide volunteer labor for all the construction work and future maintenance needs, and even to hire consultants to work through the land use permitting process, there were some planning and design tasks that could only be done by City of Eugene POS staff. We were told that there is not likely to be funding or staff available to do this required work for at least the next 18-24 months. It is unlikely that funds will be available that soon unless Oregon’s economic improves. There were no guarantees that funding will ever be available.

Volunteers Working on the Headwaters Trail

With this news in hand, the board asked about the possibility of other opportunities to expand the amount of trails open to bikes in the area. Last year (around the Ribbon Trail closure), parks staff agreed to do an assessment of the entire Ridgeline trail system to re-consider whether mountain bikes could safely share the existing trails with other trail users, and to look at possibilities of approving new trails for bikes in the Ridgeline trail system. As you can guess, the same budget issues have prevented Parks staff from being able to find the resources to consider this issue. They are not able to begin this process for at least the next 18-24 months. Again, there was no guarantee that funding would ever be made available for this study. Continue reading “City Parks & Open Space Gives Little Hope For Local Mountain Bike Trails”