Bike park in Lebanon heads into design phase

10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 26, 2016 Community News
Lebanon is turning its former landfill into a park for off-road bike riding. In addition to local mountain bike, BMX and cyclocross riders, the park is expected to draw contestants from around the country to compete in organized race events. Staff photo by Lawrence Budd

A group of Lebanon residents is about to begin planning the transformation of the city’s former landfill into a dirt-track bike park.

The 48-acre park , expected to feature mountain bike trails, a cyclocross track and other amenities favored by off-road bikers, has qualified for a $150,000 grant and $45,000 in state funding.

“It’s going to be amazing. You are going to see people from 2 years old to 92 years old riding around,” said K.C. Stallings, a member of the steering committee that will begin meeting next month.

Following a model used in communities around the world, the park, located the at end of East Turtlecreek-Union Road, is to be built on a former landfill, closed more than 25 years ago by the EPA.

Capped and monitored, the park would be created by mounding dirt and grooming paths into a system of trails, pump tracks and progressive jump lines.

No designer has been hired yet, but a team of advisers is working with the local steering committee to include amenities expected to draw mountain bikers and BMX and cyclocross enthusiasts.

No city funds are to be spent on the project. Sponsorships, donations and naming rights fees are expected to cover remaining expenses on the park, expected to cost $250,000 to $275,000 to complete.

“We’re still sort of in a quiet phase of fund raising,” said Stallings whose husband owns bike shops in West Chester, Blue Ash and Fort Wright, Ky.

The Fort Wright shop is near Devou Park, where a cycloross competition, part of the Ohio Valley Cyclocross Series (OVCX) drew more than 2,800 people, resulting in the rental of more than 2,000 hotel room nights and an estimated economic impact of more than $800,000 last fall, according to the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“These races bring in 400 racers in a day, their families, friends and support people,” said Paul Rouse, a Lebanon resident, cyclist and coach. “You can make it a festival.”

It also is seen as a replacement for the bike park at the former Kingswood Golf Course, where cyclocross competitions were held and is now scheduled for development.

“It’s a great opportunity to reintroduce people to outdoor sports,” said Roush, encouraged to hear the plan was going forward, despite opposition from residents who live along the stretch of Turtlecreek-Union Road where the park would be built.

Stallings, part of the Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance, looks forward to local youngsters frequenting the park, rather than streets and parking lots.

“They don’t even know they are exercising and they are having a great time,” she said, predicting it also would draw visitors who make a day of it in Lebanon or home buyers whose interests go beyond “ball sports.”

“The vision is bigger than just the bike park. The vision is making Lebanon a better place,” she said.

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