Cheasty Trail and Bike Park project boosters call for support at levy meeting

1348613548There have been a lot of ups and downs in the past year for the Cheasty Greenspace Trails & Bike Park project (AKA Beacon Bike Park).

With plans to mobilize huge numbers of volunteers to restore a section of Cheasty Greenspace, tucked between Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley. The park has few safe and easy walking trails and has a big litter and invasive plant problem.

The group’s Parks Opportunity Fund proposal would include many hours of volunteer time creating and maintaining safe, sustainable walking trails and mountain bike singletrack.

The project has hit several roadblocks, including an old seemingly forgotten (until recently) city rule that prohibits bicycle riding in parks. The group has since prompted the Parks Department to begin reviewing the rule.

Now the group is turning its focus back to the levy. The meeting is 6 p.m. at Miller Community Center. From project organizers:

Tonight is the night to convince the Levy Oversight Committee that Cheasty Greenspace Trails & Bike Park is the best idea for the Opportunity Fund!  This meeting is the last time that the LOC is taking public comment and you need to be there.  Arrive at 6pm and sign up for your 2 minute time slot to speak.  I’ve included speaking topics below.  If you have your own personal story or topic in support of this park, please go for it.  We just need you there.

  • Location – Nature access in Rainier Valley.  It’s a social justice issue.  Cheasty Greenspace is adjacent to Rainier Vista one of the densest urban villages.
  • Safe Access - Everyone deserves safe access to local natural areas.
  • Close to Sound Transit Link LIght Rail - This park could be accessed from 3 stations: Beacon Hill, Mt. Baker, and Columbia City
  • Proximity to Jefferson Park – This proposal would expand JP to include a large natural area with hiking and biking.
  • Volunteer Support – 20,650 volunteer hours committed, equates to $415,000, over half of the total project cost.
  • Restoration – Forest is dying because of invasive plants.  Restoration allows for native plants and trees to grow and thrive.  Cheasty is a GSP (Green Seattle Partnership) high priority site, named one of the forests most overrun with invasives and in need of restoration.
  • Public Safety – Current conditions house homeless encampments, drug activity, and elicit sexual activity.  This anonymous and unpredictable behavior is adjacent to a thriving community with families.  Nov, 2012 police looked for a missing body.  A man shot and killed in Feb, 2013.  March, 2013 a women was mugged at gunpoint.  Studies show that neighborhoods with restored greenspaces with trails have a reduction in crime.
  • Health and Wellness – Rainier Valley has the highest statistics for chronic health issues in Seattle, and arguably the highest crime rates.  Studies prove daily access to nature reduces hypertenstion, diabetes, depression, and anxiety.  It increases test scores, self esteem, and coping skills.
  • Reimagine - The local community has expressed a need for something innovative and creative for youth.  The concept of a forested mt. bike park in this parcel has been readily embraced and extensively supported.  Cheasty Greenspace would provide urban children and youth the opportunity to mt. bike, a privileged sport because it’s only available in the suburbs.
  • Balance – this proposal balances the need for restoration with fun, accessible recreation.  It leverages an unmet user group of mt. bikers who have committed their time to restore the forest in return for trails. Without their support, the forest dies and remains inaccesible in it’s current state.

If you can’t attend, you can email your support statement to susan.golub@seattle.gov.  It will carry the same weight as public comment.

Superintendent’s Mt. Bike Task Force
In case you aren’t on Facebook and didn’t get an update this week on our meeting with Christopher Williams, Seattle Parks Superintendent, here’s a brief overview.  Because of your voices, this proposal has brought daylight to the need for mountain biking in Seattle.  As a result, a task force has been assigned by the superintendent to research all aspects of mt. biking as it relates to Seattle Parks and officially propose mt. biking usage to the Board of Park Commissioners in June.  The hoped for outcome is city-wide policy change to include mt. biking and mt. biking trails as an allowable feature in designated Seattle Parks!  Furthermore, Christopher is excited about our proposal, the work we’ve done in Cheasty to date, and wants to work together  to make this a reality.  As a first step we are coordinating a site visit to Cheasty and to Duthie in the next couple of weeks.

All that to say, Seattle Parks is listening, and now is our time to continue building momentum.  Thank you everyone for all of your support to date.

See you at the LOC meeting tonight!

Joel

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7 Responses to Cheasty Trail and Bike Park project boosters call for support at levy meeting

  1. Gary says:

    “Riding in city parks is illegal”: Better tell the USCA.. https://www.usacycling.org/register/2013-1478

    Looks like they have been holding illegal bicycle races since whenever.

  2. Gary says:

    What about this park? http://www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?id=4446 … looks like the city has been ignoring it’s own rules for years.

  3. Gary says:

    Oh and if you pave it, it’s ok? http://www.seattle.gov/parks/magnuson/bike.htm

    Tom, do you have the city code that these folks are worried about?

  4. Gary says:

    it is however illegal for me to throw a stick at my dog if he doesn’t want to play…

    18.12.100

    Capturing or striking animals prohibited.

    Except for fishing and shellfishing in areas authorized by the Superintendent and subject to rules promulgated by the Washington State Game Commission, it is unlawful in any park in any manner to attempt to capture, tease, annoy, disturb, or strike any animal with any stick, weapon or other device or thing or throw or otherwise propel any missile or other object at or in the vicinity of any such animal.
    ( Ord. 113426 § 6, 1987: Ord. 106615 § 7(c), 1977.)

  5. Matthew says:

    Jeez Gary, put down the pitchfork, man!

    The rule doesn’t prohibit bicycle riding in parks. It prohibits bicycle riding in ways that were determined to be environmentally destructive:

    4.1 Bicycles will be allowed in Seattle parks on roads and paths designed
    for shared use (60 inches in width), or where high use will not adversely
    impact sensitive environments.

    4.2 All bicycles are prohibited off roads and paths in environmentally sensitive
    or natural areas within Seattle parks such as wetlands, streams, meadows,
    newly forested sites or steep slopes where bicycle use could cause damage to
    plants, soils, streams or natural elements of the park land.

    [taken from http://www.beaconbikepark.com/uploads/8/0/9/9/8099687/seattle_bicycle_use_policy.pdf ]

    Now, you could argue that in this specific case, the policy is preventing a reasonable park use (it’s not my kind of riding, so I don’t feel strongly either way), but the rule, as it’s written, really isn’t so unreasonable. I don’t think it’s unfair to set a high bar for changing or making exceptions to these kinds of rules, which are designed to protect parks and especially the more fragile parts of them.

  6. Gary says:

    One could argue that a “single track” is a trail, and that as long as they don’t run it through a wetland and shore it up so it doesn’t slide that there isn’t anything about the rules to prevent this usage.

    My claim is any decent lawyer can show that the parks department has ignored the bikes in park rules for so long that it’s a moot issue. And that if the parks department wanted to they could just approve this plan and be done with it. Assuming that its built well.

  7. Steve Campbell says:

    Actually Gary, while it isn’t a wetland there are a few other critical areas in that area. There are a few places called out as a Steep Slope Critical Area, a big Potential Slide Critical Area in the northern portion, and a Wildlife Critical Area over pretty much the whole thing. That doesn’t mean trails can’t be built there, but it’s more than rubber stamping a plan and having the Parks Dept. get out the shovels next week.

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