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Let's not be hasty on bike skills park

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  |  Posted: Saturday, Dec 08, 2012 06:00 am

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Regarding the proposed St. Albert bike skills park, let me be very clear that I think the idea is brilliant and I would be thrilled to see St. Albert build such a facility. Not only would it be one of the best of its kind in the region, it is also a youth driven project and it would help to promote active and healthy lifestyles in our community.

That said, I have some significant concerns with the current design concepts and proposed locations. The Mission Hill, or as it's more affectionately known, the seven hills location, is particularly problematic. The concept drawings show trails criss-crossing the toboggan hill and although I was told at a recent open house that "lanes" could be left open for tobogganing, I was left with the distinct impression that the bike course would take priority. The course would also consist of dirt jumps, wood constructed ramps and other features that would be lots of fun, but quite simply aren't that attractive. These dirt piles and structures would be placed throughout one of St. Albert's most iconic and historic landmarks. Lastly, if built to the standards currently being proposed, it would no doubt attract mountain bike enthusiasts from around the region. I'm not sure that the intensity and type of use coincides well with the adjacent elementary school, although I'll leave that battle to the respective parentsí council or school division.

The Liberton location also poses problems though fewer in number and significance in my opinion. There would be similar restrictions to tobogganing and similar aesthetic issues, but the bigger concern would be with respect to the impact on the surrounding residential neighbourhood. There is far less parking at this site, which could force more traffic into an otherwise quiet neighbourhood.

As a supporter of the project in principle, I don't take issue with the proposed cost. I do however think that the city is being somewhat short-sighted in its estimates for long-term maintenance and upkeep of the facility, and I question the wisdom of spending this money when it appears there isn't enough in the budget to fix existing infrastructure such as the banks of Lacombe Park Lake.

At this stage it appears as if the project is approved and all that remains is choosing one of the two proposed locations. Please take the time to review the proposed plan at http://www.stalbert.ca/bike-skills-park and let the City know what you think.

Neil Korotash, St. Albert


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