More than 80 hear discussion of Hill’s Hill bike-park plan

Mountain-bikng rampsMountain-bikng ramps like those proposed.

UPDATED Aug. 4: Arlington’s Park and Recreation Commission held an online Zoom meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 2, to discuss the pros and cons of building a mountain-bike park and trails on Hill’s Hill, the small patch of land next to the Summer Street skating rink. More than 80 people attended, offering their pros and cons of this potential recreational endeavor.

“We’re at the preliminary stages of the feasibility study. It’s not a funded project yet. It’s just conceptual plans now, and we don’t even have a preliminary design yet,” said Arlington Recreation Director Joe Connelly.

If approved, the park would cost an estimated $350,000.

About the plan

Will Conroy, owner of the firm Powder Horn Trail Companies, which is designing the park, went on several site walks to determine the suitability for a mountain-bike park. “We conducted national soil surveys and looked at the history of the area,” he said.

“We propose several trails, some for multiuse, others mountain-bike specific, and a skills area, where kids can practice their mountain-bike skills on different surfaces with different features. 

The park’s skill zones will include: 

  • Beginner skills zone: Small features, to introduce riders to the different terrains and surface types;
  • Pump track: Infinite loop of rollers and berms designed to improve bike handling;
  • Hubs and access: Access points from parking lots, bus stop and Minuteman Bikeway -- single point of entry from bike trail;
  • Freeride/flow zone: Intermediate, what you’d find at a typical bike park; and
  • Trail network: Trails to access and explore Hill’s Hill with improved hiking routes.

The park will also have signs for maps and etiquette rules.

The total park size is .65 acres (10.8 percent) of Hill’s Hill.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a harmonious environment with this athletic park. Everyone in Arlington has a common and shared love for our parks and landscapes. We want to serve the community’s needs and create recreational opportunities for all,” said commission member Phil Lasker.

As to cost, funding sources include the Community Preservation Act and appeals to the Finance Committee, after which it goes to Town Meeting for funding approval.

Park-building process

Lasker explained the process so far of building the park, along with future milestones. “We’ve had two public meetings to solicit community input and have reviewed the feasibility study results," he said.

“Next, we’ll meet with Powder Horn, which will develop the final feasibility study and provide recommendations to our Park and Recreation Commission. 

“If we decide to move forward, we’ll request funding from CPA and/or capital [planning]. If approved by CPA and/or capital, it will go to the annual Town Meeting for approval. If Town Meeting then approves this funding, the project will go through a final design phase which will include a minimum of two more public meetings. Upon final design approval, the project will go to bid for construction.”

Park and Recreation Commission input

At the meeting, four Park and Recreation Commission members spoke in favor of the park.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a harmonious environment with this athletic park. Everyone in Arlington has a common and shared love for our parks and landscapes. We want to serve the community’s needs and create recreational opportunities for all,” said Lasker.

Member Shirley Canniff said, “Many youth in town enjoy mountain biking. These kids don’t play traditional sports such as hockey, football or baseball, so there’s nothing recreational for them. We’re a recreation commission, we build playgrounds and recognize recreational opportunities. We’re aware of our environment and how developed this town is, so always take every development with utmost care and love."

Member Leslie Mayer said: “The youth in our community are crying out for mountain-bike trails. We’re responding to a need from groups in middle and high school who get overlooked when working with community recreation needs."

Jen Rothenberg said, “As a commission, we have a mission to make our parks open and accessible to all Arlington residents. We think this place is worth exploring, based on the information we received. During the pandemic, our parks got a lot of use. Our goal is to provide kids a sanctioned activity that is safe and well-constructed. I’m excited about creating something that can benefit everyone in community.”

Resident feedback

Town residents were given the opportunity to share their views. During the meeting, 20 people expressed their opinions, with most supporting the park.

“This plan addresses both sets of needs in our community — mountain biking and protecting our town’s open spaces. We don’t want to destroy the natural habit there," said Ann LeRoyer, open space committee chair.

“This was a neglected piece of property until the pandemic, when our town’s youth started using this area of land. If we use this land in the way that kids are asking it to be used, and it matches the facilities along the Minuteman Bikeway, this is a perfect place for this park. We need to listen to our youth,” said JoEllen McGinnity.

“My full support is behind this. It’s brilliant. I want to thank Arlington’s Park and Recreation Commission for thinking of this idea.” said Cameron Cogburn.

Mountain bikers weigh in

Hila Bernstein, a Precinct 17 Town Meeting member, said, “I’m a beginner mountain biker, and love riding my bike in the woods. I moved to Arlington in 2020 to be able to use the Minuteman Bikeway. Mountain bikers care about the environment. We want to encourage town residents to see what we have to offer here. There are also ways to get adaptive bike riders to use and enjoy this recreation area.” 

Carl Wagner, Precinct 15 Town Meeting member and mountain biker, said, “It’s a good idea to do something, and this idea’s been bouncing around for a while. However, the town is facing a $5 million structural deficit after the ARPA funds go away, so I recommend that we cut the scope of park way down, to save costs."

“Mountain bikers are good stewards of the land, careful about the tracks, and diligently clear and maintain them, explained Gary Goldsmith. 

Arlington High School student Josh Fenollosa expressed excitement to create a space for middle schoolers and teens outside of the town’s organized sports. “Recreation should be encouraged as much as possible,” Fenollosa said.

Despite their support of the park, several people were concerned about the proposed location of the park’s pump track, atop Hill’s Hill.

“I have a passion for our limited amount of wooded areas, and the pump-track location is concerning to many people. Would the commission consider a different location, perhaps near the edge of the woods? I’m concerned about the trails’ impact on the local habitat, and we need to consider the walkers on the Minuteman Bikeway,” said Brian McBride.

“This was a neglected piece of property until the pandemic, when our town’s youth started using this area of land. If we use this land in the way that kids are asking it to be used, and it matches the facilities along the Minuteman Bikeway, this is a perfect place for this park. We need to listen to our youth,” said JoEllen McGinnity.

Some state opposition

Some community members wholeheartedly support the park, while others adamantly oppose its construction. Michael Brown, a Precinct 17 Town Meeting member, said the park is “a terrible idea. Leave well enough alone. If you want to mountain-bike, go to a mountain. There are lots of needs in town, and this isn’t one of them. None of my neighbors are in favor of this, and the last thing we need is some overzealous mountain biker coming over the hill." 

Several people also expressed concern for any trees that might need to be removed.

Beth Melofchik, Precinct 9 Town Meeting member, said, “I love our undeveloped, open green spaces. It’s essential that we understand that we’re in a climate emergency, and need to be mindful and thoughtful with what we’re doing with our spaces in town. The top of the hill has many native trees that are essential components to our healthy community. Yes, we want our children to have activities, but let’s do it mindfully."

“We’ll limit the trees being taken down, and we’ve no clear-cutting in our plans,” responded Connelly.

The meeting was the second public forum with the project designer, Powder Horn, to review the draft feasibility study and to solicit input for the potential design of mountain-biking trails and park at Hill's Hill.

The day before this public meeting about the bike proposal at Hill's Hill, nearby resident Elaine Crowder invited members of the public to enjoy a brief stroll through the woods, noting the way the meadows jump-start the recovery of degraded woodlands. To illustrate the native plants involved, she provided this link to a flier >> 

Those who missed the Sept. 23, 2021, meeting may see the presentation here >>

Written comments may be postal-mailed to the Arlington Recreation Office, 422 Summer St., Arlington, MA 02474 or emailed to jconnelly at town.arlington.ma.us.


July 27, 2022: Seeks solutions for all sides at Hill's Hill

 


This news announcement was published Sunday, July 10, 2022, and it was updated Aug. 3, 2022, with a news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert. Description of the proposed park's size and features, its possible funding sources and numerous quotes were added Aug. 4

Donate button, 300pxThis reporting demonstrates your donations at work to support democracy here. YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.Your contributions are tax-deductible. Donate here >> 

 

 
ACMi-21
Media partner

Site stats: October traffic | Cambridge Day: News >> 






Latest comments

Guest - Jane Arnold Alewife Brook sewage campaign: Meet Dec. 4
13 November 2022
Sometime about 1998 four children, ages 7 and 8, spent several hours retrieving trash from Alewife B...
Bob Sprague Letters: Emailing Advocate & Star? Copy it here; it'll be published first
17 January 2022
Let the public know with a letter to the editor. For details, see https://www.yourarlington.com/easy...

Your Businesses

Your People

Barbara McOwen.

McOwens: A half-century Highland fling

One small corner of the world's heritage of tunes and dance, thousands of miles away from where they began, is being kept fully alive by two longtime Arlington residents. Preserving traditions underlying Scottish fiddle music and Highland dance are Barbara and Robert McOwen. INSIDE ARLINGTON:Among…
Marie Krepelka is awarded the Paul Harris Award by Arlington’s Rotary Club, 2018. Photo – Ashley Maher

Veteran Select Board administrator Krepelka dies

Marie Krepelka was awarded the Paul Harris Award by Arlington’s Rotary Club in 2018. / Photo by Ashley Maher UPDATED Nov. 1: Two days after Arlington’s Select Board honored its longtime administrator, Marie A. (Spelman) Krepelka has died. At the board’s Oct. 24 meeting, members and town staff…

Housing Authority

FACEBOOK BOX: To see all images, click the PHOTOS link just below

 



Support YourArlington

An informed Arlington
keeps democracy alive
:

Why we are your news source >>

Donate Button

YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Your contributions are tax-deductible.

Your Arts

Your Restaurants

Your Events

Your Police, Fire

Your Democracy

Your Housing

Site Partners