News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 16, 2013

Board OKs study of mountain bike trail

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A feasibility study will be undertaken to provide a conceptual design, overall costs including maintenance and staffing needs, a conceptual programming plan and a time schedule should Vigo County park officials go forward with a proposed mountain bike trail at Fowler Park.

The Vigo County Parks Board voted Monday to approve Oakland, Calif.-based Hilride Progression Development Grouo for the feasibility study. The study will take at least three months to complete, said Parks Superintendent Kara Kish.

The cost of the study is not to exceed $6,050.

The area for the proposed Dale R. Griffin Memorial Bike Park — named in honor of the U.S. Army Sgt. killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb in October 2009 — contains about 300 acres of park land with about three miles of existing trail. A proposed design would include an expanded multi-use trail system of about 15 miles. A centralized bike park riding area would be about five acres and include dirt jumps, pump track, kids area and skills zone.

It would also include an area for about 100 parking spaces, staging and event areas, and a restroom facility.

Kish said the bike trail would move forward only if the Parks Board approves its design and construction after the feasibility study is completed.

“If the board does not like what they hear and say ‘no, don’t go forward with it,’ then that will be it,” Kish said. “As public manager of this property, this is the step that I need to know whether or not this is an appropriate facility for our community.”

Klain Tanner, a member of a park advisory council on the trail, told the Parks Board the council’s goal “is to create a destination. Brown County is a destination for mountain biking and there are some in Indianapolis area, but the Wabash Valley is missing something like that.

“Our goal is to build a bike park that will compete with those parks … and help contribute to the overall development of the area and provide an economic impact,” Tanner said.

Chris Newton, a Vigo County judge and member of the advisory council, said the trail “is a great idea and would benefit our citizenry. It will be a destination and bring their dollars into this community.”

Gene Griffin, father of Dale, is also a member of the advisory council. Griffin said his son enjoyed mountain biking and said the sport is among the fastest growing in the nation.

If the Parks Board approves the development of the trail after the feasibility study, the next step would be trail design. Kish estimated the feasibility study, bike trail design and some construction oversight would cost a total of about $90,000. That includes more than $6,000 already approved for the Hilride Progression Development Group.

The county parks department would likely cover that expense, Kish said.

However, construction of the trail, currently estimated between $500,000 and $750,000, would have to come from outside donations, grants and gifts, Kish told the board.

n In other business, Kish told the board the county would not close on land from Pfizer Inc., until at least Jan. 10. A closing date previously had been set for Dec. 20 for the acquisition of about 822 acres, formerly owned by Pfizer.

The county plans to buy the property, located north of Dallas Road, for $50,000. Funding will come half from a grant from the Wabash Valley Community Foundation and the other half from the Vigo County Redevelopment Commission.

The acquisition will expand the county’s park land to about 2,700 acres from about 1,900 acres. The county parks department will require a year to plan out the park. The land may be open for public use in the fall of 2014 or in early 2105, Kish said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.