What is the proposed Bike Skills Course? The bike skills course is a variety of recreational trails and a pump track to teach young or beginning riders how to ride on dirt and gravel surfaces. The proposed site is the “A” Avenue landfill in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands and would use about 1.5 acres on the dump cap. The novice trail would have features to help people learn how to ride over rocks and roots safely. There would also be bypasses around these sections of the novice trail so riders not able to ride confidently could go around them. The pump track is a small oval with bumps and banked corners to give more experienced riders an opportunity to practice and improve their riding skills.
What the proposed Bike Skills Course is not. It is not set up to be a competitive racing area like you might see at a BMX racing course. It would be designed for bicycles only; it would be an entirely non-motorized facility. The first phase of the design would have a gathering place for riders to meet, the beginner trail and the pump track. A second potential phase at the landfill could have trails called “drop lines” for novice to intermediate riders.
What are some of the concerns about the proposed skills course? The Forest Advisory Board, which meets the first Thursday of every month at 6pm at the Senior Center, has discussed potential problems with a skills course in the Forest Lands. Will this cause problems on surrounding trails? How will this affect wildlife in the ACFL? Is the “A” Avenue landfill a safe place to put it? Will it attract too many people and cause problems with parking and garbage? Who will maintain the course and how much will that cost? These are some of the concerns considered as the review continues on the proposal.
What are the benefits of a skills course? The Forest Advisory Board has also discussed benefits of a skills course. It is a recreational opportunity for local youths and their families who like to ride bikes and want to practice those skills. It is a place for the local mountain bike team to gather. It is another recreational opportunity to help get people outside exercising and enjoying physical activity. It is local and can be reached with a bike ride or short drive which is a benefit to residents seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.
Have you looked at other locations for a bike skills course? Yes. Parks and Recreation staff have looked at other areas around town over the past 15 years or so. Listed below are 6 on publicly owned land which we have discussed for the skills park. Optimal size for a small skills course with the desired amenities is about 1.5 acres (65,000 SF) or more.
1. Clearridge Tennis Courts: The city operates a park at Clearridge. The area to the south of the basketball court was first considered for a set of bike skills features. The conditions are limited space, only 5,800 SF. Limited parking; access is good for the west end residents.
2. City Storage Area / Havecost Rd.: This is an area the city uses to store dirt and woody debris (your old Christmas trees). The western end of the property was evaluated. The access is off ACFL Trail 126 with about 40,000 SF available. The site has some potential but has no nearby parking and heavy equipment operations are directly adjacent.
3. Ben Root Skate Park: Good location and access with parking and nearby restrooms but limited available space. Staff looked at the area in the Park to the south and east of the skate bowl which has about 12,000 SF. The site would not be able to fit the desired amenities in the skills course.
4. Smiley’s Bottom: Good location and access with parking and restrooms located nearby at Volunteer Park. Centralized access from nearby neighborhoods. Approximate size is adequate at 84,000 SF. The land is owned by Anacortes School District and concerns arose over liability. Private residences are nearby.
5. Grand View Cemetery Property: This is a forested area directly east of the existing cemetery. Size is approximately 65,000 SF which is useable size for a small skills course. The forested site might require shrub and possible tree removal. There is potential for drop lines on eastern side of property. The location is acceptable but not ideal on the eastern side of city. Parking may need improvements. Private residences are nearby.
6. Cap Sante (east side): Forested slopes on the east side of Cap Sante were reviewed for possible drop lines. Good size for possible use at approximately 75,000 SF. Access is poor with no parking available and soil is thin with many rock outcroppings. Private residences are nearby.
Is the “A” Avenue Landfill Safe to use? The dumpsite was capped and closed in 2009 and the state Department of Ecology issued a “No Further Action” necessary letter click here. In January 2020 the Department of Ecology rescinded that determination, for more information about that please click here.
Could this lead to other developments in the ACFL? No. The ACFL is covered by layers of protection from the Conservation Easement Program (CEP), protective deeds and city ordinances. The “A” Avenue landfill is also one of a few anomalies in the ACFL; two others being the Lakeside Quarry operation in the forest lands and the old overflow parking lot at Heart Lake. The Lakeside Quarry is still in operation and has a replanting plan as part of the conditions for its closure. The old overflow parking on the eastside of Heart Lake has been closed and allowed to grow in with alders, cottonwoods and native shrubs. The current requirements at the “A” Avenue landfill are that the city mow it and prevent it from reverting back to forest. The Forest Lands are approximately 2,950 acres, the 1.5 acres of the “A” Avenue landfill is the only place in the ACFL this would be considered.
Are there permits necessary? Yes. Both our Grade and Fill permit and Stormwater permit are in process. A wetlands delineation was recently done at the site as part of the review. City Storm water staff are look at the potential of educational raingardens that could be used on site to help collect water and remove it to existing swales.
Who would maintain the skills course? The proposal is that if the course is built the Parks and Recreation staff could do much of the work with assistance from Public Works staff regarding stormwater collection. Volunteers could also assist in cooperation with the City. The City could consider entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for ongoing maintenance with a local bike group. This type of arrangement has been used at other city recreation facilities. The Parks and Recreation would need to manage any construction or recreational activities for liability reasons.
What has been the process so far? The Forest Advisory Board discussed this idea at their meetings this year in March, May, June and August. The Board endorsed moving forward with the permits at their June meeting. It was also discussed during public comment sessions at the Planning Commission and City Council when the Parks & Recreation and ACFL Comprehensive Plans were reviewed.
What are the next steps in the discussion? If the permits are approved, Parks and Recreation staff will provide them to the County for review. If there are no issues raised by the County Health Department then the Forest Advisory Board will review the final plan. After that staff will bring the issue back to City Council.
How do you comment on this idea? You can sign up for Forest Advisory Board notifications of meetings and agendas, send an email to the Parks and Recreation Department, or give us a call at the Parks and Recreation office at 360-293-1918.