“Bike Park” Meeting – A summary of Events

by Bill Kuenning, Secretary of TrailMark HOA

Dear TrailMark Residents,

As a follow-up to the previous article about the South Suburban Parks and Recreation (SSPR)’s initial safety and liability concerns about a non-sanctioned makeshift “Bike Park” on their land, here is a summary of the details:

● Residents (kids and parents) met with SSPR at TrailMark Park to hear the SSPR’s official, changed position on the current kids’ and parents’ unauthorized, fun but risky, makeshift “Bike Park.”

● There was a good turnout of the concerned kids and parents, as well as the entire TrailMark HOA Board.

● SSPR chose not to mention that on October 5th, they told the HOA Board that they would NOT consider a “Bike Park” on any of their properties, from now on. [By announcing to the News that they actually had no plans scheduled to level the makeshift “Bike Park” and were open minded about it, SSPR made the HOA Board unfairly look like WE were not supportive, when actually the Board was doing all we could to support the concept of a formal “Bike Park.” We reported SSPR’s negative stance to our fellow residents immediately after the Board was told this directly… and then SSPR decided to project a greater open mind about a “Bike Park.” This new, seemingly more flexible, position made the Board happy, but even the Board had to hear it on 9News!]

● SSPR gave a nice and clear presentation, basically stating their position, but some residents could not hear well. Therefore, here is a thumbnail of what was said:

They did tell the audience that the vandalism/damage to the property was a crime but that they had no intention of prosecuting. They wanted to work with us.

1) SSPR was impressed with the great showing of enthusiastic parents and kids, and stated that organized efforts of requests which followed their review protocol would be considered for studying the feasibility of constructing a professionally-designed “Bike Park” which they could sanction and maintain.

2) SSPR gets many requests for such “Bike Parks” but has not approved these requests. When asked the salient question of why these requests were not successful, the answer was that generally there had never been a well organized, supportive, informed group with the tenacity to kindly press the issue within the standard procedures. Previous tries had eventually lost the attention of the SSPR Board and never even got to the study phase. Again, they were encouraged by our residents’ showing.

3) SSPR outlined the steps that these type of requests need to take and explained that nothing large could even begin to happen, other than leveling the area and reclaiming it, before perhaps 7 to 9 months.

4) SSPR said that they were willing to initiate the request for a formal study of placing a sanctionable “Bike Park” here, if the momentum interest continued.

5) SSPR also said that the feasibility study might conclude that a “Bike Park” could not go in this location, but that other locations could be also considered in the study, such as down from Hogback Park.

6) SSPR explained that the organized interest group should kindly, but persistently lobby all stakeholders in the local jurisdictions and that SSPR could assist somewhat by supplying some names for agencies to lobby. They said that losing momentum and consistency is the easy way to stop getting attention.

7) SSPR warned that there ultimately is no money in the current budget to build such a “Bike Park” and that even if the concept was approved, the funds would have to come from places of which they were not presently aware. They said that there are already so many projects trying to get funding that finding the money to do the project might not be able to be a priority.

Some of the parents asked if their efforts to raise the money for the project would help, and they were basically told “yes,” and that, without a formal study and development plan, there was no real way to gauge how much the entire project would cost.

8) SSPR tried to explain that other expensive parts of the “Bike Park” would also require funding and land, like the additional parking that would be required.

9) SSPR also explained that the “Bike Park” would have to be open to the public; so, folks from outside the community would come in to use the park, and that the additional traffic load might cause issues.

10) SSPR spent a great deal of time explaining that they were not at all opposed to a “Bike Park,” but that they could not guarantee that once the Park was studied, designed, cost projected and approved, if it ever was, that it might ever get funded, due to the already stretched budgets.

The parents and kids gave heart-felt testimonies of why the availability of this centralized activity was so beneficial to keep the kids engaged and “off the streets.” Again, SSPR said they agreed fully but budgets and liabilities were the critical guiding concerns.

11) Lastly, SSPR was asked; “So what do the kids do now?!” and the parents and the kids started to lobby hard to get them to leave the present parent and kid-built makeshift “Bike Park” until a new one could be studied and built.

It was explained to the crowd that this area was modified and damaged without permission, and as cool as it was, SSPR can never sanction or allow a park of any type which was not designed by subject professionals; so, the high safety risks from incorrectly designed and maintained features were highly reduced.

12) Therefore, SSPR explained that the unsanctioned, modified area had to be restored to its original purpose and that it could no longer be used for this Bike purpose.

13) SSPR and the HOA Board agreed to stay in close touch, and the interested parents said that they would keep the appropriate momentum up to make sure the study was made as soon as possible, and then SSPR invited them to do so.

14) One of the hard issues that never could get answered was, “Where do the kids go, if this is taken away?”

Please understand that this question is a critical one, and toward that illusive answer, the Board spoke to some of the older youth and asked if they could immediately help with two things:

A) Communicate, to spread the word that this activity and jumping off trail cannot be done in any other area, inside TrailMark or on the surrounding open spaces.

The reason that it is so critically important to not take this activity or similar to all of the surrounding areas, is because TrailMark youth need to demonstrate that they are lobbying for a great “Bike Park,” that they can be trusted to follow the rules and protect their and other jurisdictions’ property.

A “Bike Park” clearly will never be considered, if those who want it cannot stop trespassing, going off trails, damaging property and angering those who actually follow the rules.

B) Furthermore, the parents and youth cannot claim the need, if they just transplant their actions somewhere else.

This activity has to be seen as being no longer available anywhere, and all the other residents have to respect the riders. That is a hard thing to follow, but the older youth were asked to try to explain that message and set an example for the younger kids… and for all the adults who might not yet see the bigger picture of cooperation to get the job done.

We are also trying to get the word out here to stop going off official trails and riding and walking in the off limits areas, like the Denver Botanic Gardens and the land strip just on the other side of TrailMark house fences.

These surrounding areas as well as TrailMark common property are permanently off limits, whether SSPR’s property, the Botanic Gardens property, Jefferson County’s Open Space, the Shea Homes lot at the entrance, or other peoples’ yards.

This riding only where you are supposed to is hard to do, and sometimes boring. 

THAT IS THE POINT. If a good thing has to be removed because of safety, then lobbying correctly and showing that we can follow the rules, while having less fun places to ride, is a powerful part of the Community coming together for lobbying for anything great.

The HOA Board is not purposed to organize this charge to get a safe, formal “Bike Park.” However, WE can help where WE are able if everybody sees the lobbying power of getting our Community to demonstrate that we take care of our Community and our neighbors.

Let’s get SSPR’s respect and attention.

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