From Darkness To Light

21 Oct 2012

Chapman Hill Bike Park start-up funding could follow river improvement projects

Posted by Adam Howell

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Are you itching to ride more dynamic downhill, freeride, and big-air oriented trails than those private and illegal ones that Durango already has to offer?

A bike park at Chapman Hill would mostly be built where the stands of oak and trees are currently growing thick.

If so, then you might be interested to know more about the proposal to construct a bike park at Chapman Hill.

A plan to build the Chapman Hill Bike Park would ride on the success of a grant application to Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), as well as your financial and volunteer support of Trails 2000, a local trail-building organization, as those events occur.

In addition, the budget for the projects would be approved following the completion of a Whitewater Park and three river access projects that are higher on the list of the City’s priorities, according to Durango’s Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz.

“The bike park is a project that has been advanced by Trails 2000,” Metz said at the last Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board meeting.

“We’ve been talking with Trails 2000 about how we can get this project moving forward more quickly,” said Metz. “Trails 2000 is very interested in trying to advance this project with some support of fundraising by themselves in the community, and then looking at this potentially as a GOCO grant in the spring of next year.

This proposed bike park at Chapman Hill could get funded by the City of Durango in the next few years. Image courtesy of the City of Durango. Chapman Hill Bike Park conceptual design PDF

A preliminary budget estimate for what the Bike Park would cost sits around $340,000 dollars, according to Metz.

“The bike park would be a lot of GOCO money, and we would just be coming in with the minimum cash to match. And that number could come down. We’ve been talking to Trails 2000 about how that might look to maybe do some different improvements there with actually Trails 2000 helping with some of the construction, and drop it down below that 340. But the 340 is our current estimate until we refine the budget a little bit further,” said Metz. “You know if we go forward with the grant application we’ll let you know that, if there’s any match from this fund [2005 Open Space, Parks and Trails Fund].”

Both the Natural Lands Board and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board are interested in the project, says Metz. However, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board would be the lead Board to oversee the project, she said.

At the last Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board meeting, Board member Steve Whiteman asked Metz if the Bike Park would be a BMX track, to which Metz gave him the low down.

“This is more of a downhill opportunity for people, and it would have downhill trails and actual elevated structures,” she said. “A lot of communities around the state are building these, and they’re really an opportunity for people to experience flow trails; gravity trails.”

This rope tow at Chapman Hill would not receive any improvements under the current preliminary budget that would fund the proposed Bike Park.

While it would attract bikers riding downhill and freeride bikes with burly suspension, the preliminary budget for the Park does not include any improvements to the existing rope tows on Chapman Hill.

Durango’s Natural Lands, Trails and Sustainability Director Kevin Hall gave reason at the Natural Lands Board meeting as to why the Bike Park would make sense for some riders in Durango.

“The Chapman facility has really been pitched as much as anything a place where the youth of the community can go to experience this and really learn how to do these things,” said Hall. “I don’t know that it’s going to address all the needs of the community, but it’s an unmet need. Right now what’s happening is people are going up and they’re riding off the Hog’s back, or up in the Mountain Park or up in Horse Gulch.”

In an interview with Metz, she said that the bigger features of the Park would be contracted out to a competent, experienced bike-park builder, and not Trails 2000.

“They’re all engineered, and they’re done by professionals. That’s what we would ultimately need once we’ve got funding of course,” said Metz. What we want to do here in Durango is bring in that professional expertise to construct something that would be for the more advanced rider, not just the little kids—for all levels. This bike park would cater to young and more experienced riders.”

Furthermore, a cash match that the City would put up towards any GOCO grant could come from the City and funds raised by Trails 2000.

Metz said that while a more experienced bike park builder would work on the pump tracks, jumps, trestles and elevated features, Trails 2000 could contribute in kind with the some of the smaller features in a skills park near the bottom that would be catered more towards kids and beginner riders.

Overall, the offer of volunteer and financial fundraising contributions from Trails 2000 could make a huge difference in the success of an application for a grant from GOCO.

“These grants are very competitive,” said Metz. “Lots of municipalities across the state submit projects that are great. What can get you the funding, what can make a difference to receive funding is by showing that local support and local match with either money or in kind contributions.”

Mary Monroe of Trails 2000 has refused to go on the record with this blogger for now with any information about the level of success that they had with their first fundraiser for the Park in May of 2011. In an email she cited concerns with my intentions, given this blogger’s “past tone about trails and Trails 2000.” If and when she responds to this blogger’s questions, I’ll keep you updated.


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