Organizers of the White Salmon Bike Park are preparing to enter Phase II of development of the recreational facility, according to a report presented to the White Salmon City Council Wednesday evening.
Scott Hulbert, a founding member of the Spoke Club who presented the update to the council, said he and his team of volunteers are adding features to the skills area of the park, including an updated pump track, five updated jump lines, step-ups, step-downs, and various skinny lines to practice balance control.
“The overall focus is for all levels of riders with a major emphasis on the new, younger, riders who are just learning to ride bike park features,” Hulbert said, noting that the park also supports people who use it for walking their dogs or hiking on the trails.
Hulbert said the layout will consist of a spread of increasingly challenging features, from 60% of the features accessible to riders of any ability, to 30% set aside for intermediate users and the final 10% of the features dedicated to expert-level riders.
“The goal is to allow riders to have a place to build and hone their skills by having features that are progressive in nature,” Hulbert noted in his presentation.
Hulbert said he is expecting dirt work to commence in the spring, conditioned on the success of an ongoing fundraising drive and weather permitting. The group is aiming for a completion date of June 1.
The drive, he said, has already garnered some success as resident Izak Riley committed to donating equipment needed for the labor and “about half” the debris- and weed-free soil needed as well as excavation expertise. They also received their first donation of $500 late last year.
Initially, Hulbert said, the project cost was estimated at about $50,000. Now, he estimates the project requires around $23,000, consisting of $1,000 to $2,000 worth of lumber and around a 1,000 yards worth of soil.
Any extra funds received will go to the maintenance of the park, Hulbert said.
“We’re hoping for the next couple months to be fundraising, to reach that goal,” Hulbert said, noting there are plans in the works to host a comedy night, although details are still in the process of being finalized.
He emphasized that the group is not requesting public money for their venture, and that private donations should cover the costs associated with the improvements.
However, there is still more work to do. Hulbert noted in his presentation that the City is requiring an updated SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) checklist to be submitted on the advice of City Administrator Pat Munyan.
Hulbert said the project began eight years ago when the city first granted approval for the use of the land, which is located opposite the baseball fields on NE Tohomish Street.
A dumping site for organic material, such as grass and brush, had sat out of operation on the 20-acre lot of land until the group found a new purpose for the land, thus starting an 8-month process to clear out the forest and receive the proper permitting from the City.
“It’s probably one of the coolest little hidden spots in White Salmon that people don’t really know about,” Hulbert said.
Once Phase II is completed, Hulbert said he plans to expand past the skills area in the 2-acre heart of the park and create trails and jump lines out towards the outer rim of the park in fulfillment of the three-phase plan that the Spoke Club created at the onset of the project in 2012.
Commencing with phase I in 2013, Hulbert and crew garnered support within the community and gained the approval by the City for a bike park and with the help of volunteers, subsequently constructed the basic elements, including a freeride track with minor features and a BMX dirt track with banked corners and rollers.
Hulbert noted during the presentation that, at the time of the initial proposal to develop the park, there were concerns with the implementation of the bike park in town, namely the threat of vandalism, littering, parking, noise and police activity. To his recollection, he said he “can’t think of one that ever came true,” except for the occasional littering. He said community members and users of the park help to maintain it, picking up trash and limiting noise. Hulbert said he tries to make it down to the park once a month for maintenance.
Volunteers play a crucial role in the construction and maintenance of the park, Hulbert said. He is looking at between 120-200 volunteer hours to complete the project but has already fulfilled around 100 hours of those.
“This was built by the entire community. It was a core group of about four of us, but absolutely everybody in this town played some role in helping get this approved and get it built,” Hulbert said.
Hulbert and the group have the support of Gary Paasch, who designed the phase II improvements, and Matt Stuck, who has built bike parks and trails in the past.
“We have nothing but the best people to engineer this design and make this so that it’ll last,” Hulbert said.
Hulbert noted that the recreational area is free to the community and that riders do not need to join the club to use the facility.