The City of Redmond has cancelled a two-day work party that would have marked the beginning of construction at a new bike park on city-owned property in Education Hill later this month.
Carolyn Hope, a senior park planner for the City of Redmond, said the city is anticipating a possible appeal to its site plan entitlement that could push the start of the project back months or longer.
Hope said the city is just now learning of new residents with concerns after a two-year planning process that included seven public meetings.
“We’ve had a lot more public involvement than most projects lasting a much longer period of time,” she said Wednesday. "We don’t normally get that opposition this late in the game.”
The park would sit on two acres of a seven-acre vacant parcel that is located in and is owned by the city. The bike park's design would include five dirt-jump style trails for BMX and mountain bike riders along with a series of beginner- to advanced-level trails.
The Redmond City Council approved the bike park proposal in early 2010, but Hope said the city still had to file for a site plan entitlement because the project would change the space's use.
If the site plan entitlement is appealed, Hope said the project could be delayed two months or longer. The appeal would have to go before a hearing examiner, which Hope said could take four to six weeks to schedule, followed by a hearing and ruling by the city council, which she said could take an additional three weeks to get on the agenda.
The bike park's history is just about as unusual as the timing of its current controversy.
For more than two decades, community members have constructed dirt ramps and jumps on the parcel, according to Hope. But after several years of plowing down the jumps, only to have them built back up again, city officials decided to accommodate the site's existing use.
Hope said the nature of the park's origins is one reason some neighbors are upset, but she believes the demand for such a park is legitimate. In the past six months, she said, city crews have demolished three sets of bike jumps at other locations around town.
“We’re just trying to manage it in a way that’s more controlled,” she said.
Other concerns about the park include noise and the potential for illegal activity by bike park users. But Hope said the city has already discussed these issues with residents who had previously reached out to project planners.
Moreover, establishing a use at that section of Hartman Park would enable Redmond Police officers to patrol the area on a more regular basis, she said.
Redmond City Councilman Hank Margeson, who lives in Education Hill, said he has not heard any concerns from his neighbors. He said the city has actively engaged several residents who live near the park on 171st Avenue Northeast.
That group of residents had agreed the plan to turn the space into a bike park was a better alternative to its existing illegal use, Margeson said.
“I realize that there’s some neighbors that have some concerns about the activity that’s been going on back there, (but) I was under the impression that we had at least reached some sort of a happy medium,” he said. “We’re trying to get a handle on things.”
Because the bike park's primary users have been involved in the project since the very beginning, Hope said they already have a sense of ownership that would make them more likely to encourage responsible behavior from all who decide to bike at the park. Both that sense of user ownership and the concerns from neighboring residents are very similar to those at , she said.
“I think there’s going to be even more ownership in this sense — the people are actually building the park,” she said.