The $7,200 concept plan to build a bicycle pump track within Paper Mill Park was met with a mix of opposition and support during the spring meeting of the Pike Creek Valley Civic League held Monday night at Skyline Baptist Church.
Trail Spinners President James Ireland presented the proposal for a 5,000 square foot pump track at Paper Mill Park to the civic league earlier than he wanted because of rumors and opposition that had been circulating about the concept, he said.
A pump track is a small, looping trail system in which bicyclists can ride continuously without pedaling, Ireland said. Bikers use their whole body to gain speed without pedaling – a full body workout.
Trail Spinners would like to put the bike pump track by the soccer fields, where many local youths play regularly, Ireland said.
"We picked Paper Mill Park because we think it has the biggest reach into the community," Ireland said. "It's a very utilized park and it's very diverse in age group. You have little kids learning to ride a bike to elderly people walking the park and everything in between.
"Bicycling is a lifetime sport and a pump track is a way to get people into the sport and find out it's a fun activity," he said. "We wanted to be close to people so that people could see this activity and want to engage in it – peak their curiosity, essentially."
The closest pump tracks to Delaware are in Baltimore, Md. and Alexandria, Va., Ireland said. They are very appealing to younger people.
Ireland said he was at the Pike Creek Valley Civic League meeting to dispel the myths and rumors, not to formally vet the concept.
Trail Spinners, based in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, run mountain bike, women's and children's programs, Ireland said. In the past 20 years, Trail Spinners have engaged in 100,000 hours of volunteer service to the community and has started new, multiple use trails in the region. As part of Gov. Jack Markell's trails and pathways initiative to connect schools, neighborhoods, business and parks, Trail Spinners built the one-mile long Paper Mill Park connector trail to Middle Run, with a bridge, Ireland said.
New Castle County Department of Special Services Tracy Surles said Trail Spinners had done a lot of great work in county parks. But as for this project, County Executive Tom Gordon had not authorized the concept plan to go forward yet. If he did, the normal public process complete with public input would be used for the plan, Surles said. But, there was no timeline as of yet.
As for concern about a flow trail, she said the Department of Special Services would only recommend the pump track, not the flow trails on nearly 1 acre because of community concern. (Flow trails are a series of dirt mounds that bicyclists can jump on.)
Page 2 of 2 - Tony and Jena Baffone, of Middle Run Crossing, expressed opposition to the pump track and flow trails at this Paper Mill Court.
Jena Baffone said she was an avid tennis player and would love to see 10 more tennis courts at Paper Mill. But the park was already crowded with just about every sport in the world, she said.
"The park is very, very utilized at this time," she added.
Tony Baffone expressed his concern about the concept's adverse effects on the natural beauty of the park should it be constructed.
"If I'm driving on the road and see dirt trails and mounds of dirt, it's just not the quality and atmosphere we like to see," he said. "There's nothing wrong with [the concept]; we'd love to see it."
"There are plenty of other spots," Jena Baffone added.
State Rep. Joe Miro (R-Foxfire) agreed that the concept was a fine idea. But he just did not think Paper Mill Park was the right place to go.
But, Greg Lantern, a lifetime Pike Creek resident, said opponents of the plan were forgetting about local youths and their need to engage in outdoor activities for their health and well-being.
"How many people are tired of kids riding their bikes on sidewalks?" he said. "But nobody cares about what kids want nowadays. You don't want kids sitting home all the time. You want kids out."
Pike Creek Valley Civic League President Jeff Peters ended discussion on the subject by reminding folks that Surles would return to PCVCL for a formal presentation.