Not correct location for bike skills park
A bike park where beginning cyclists could learn skills and experienced riders could engage in friendly competition seems like a great idea, and I think it could be an excellent addition to the recreational opportunities offered in Anacortes. But putting it on the old dump site in the Forest Lands is not a good idea.
As proposed, the bike skills park is not just a place to teach children skills to safely ride on the forest trails.
By including an asphalt pump track, drops, jumps, flow and slopestyle sections, and a tech hill in addition to a beginner trail loop, there is an emphasis on competitive riding skills. While good for competitors, it could lead to increased use and heavily attended events that could be a disaster for the Forest Lands.
The sketch of a plan for the bike park on the Fidalgo Trail Riders website includes all of these features but with no toilet facilities or parking areas. There is no water at the site.
The limited parking along A Avenue is already full on a nice day with vehicles of bikers, hikers, motorcyclists and horse trailers. Where will the added cars park for an event? Will they have to cut down more trees and pave a new parking area?
While the Fidalgo Trail Riders propose fundraising and volunteer effort to build the park, there seems to be an expectation that the city would maintain it.
Funding for maintenance, trash pickup, restroom cleaning, trail grooming, etc. needs to be planned.
Safety is another issue. This site is not visible from any nearby roads, which presents a problem for police surveillance.
Just because the city owns the land does not mean it is free for any group to adopt for their own programs. Any development for one use precludes others. If this site is deemed available for recreational use, proposals should be invited from a variety of interested groups (such as dogs off-leash), and the most appropriate use selected through an open public process.
A bike skills park could be a great addition, but should be located in an accessible area with plenty of parking and restroom facilities, not in the Forest Lands.
Please consider other locations for this facility. Recreation is a primary purpose of parks, not Forest Lands. This proposed level of intensive activity conflicts with the wildlife protection, habitat preservation and low-intensity recreation for which we treasure our forests.
Environmental review needed for bike park
Ardent users of, and contributors to the ACFL and Friends of the Forest, we recently learned of the Parks Department proposal to develop a bike park for mountain bikers on former city dump property on A Avenue.
We support enabling kids to benefit from the ACFL, but we also support the concerns about this proposal stated by the Friends of the Forest.
Several features trouble us:
• A less-than-transparent development process.
• Wildlife habitat loss is happening everywhere. Must we do it here too by withdrawing this open meadow?
• Violation of the long-held principle of making ACFL property available to all users. This facility would essentially serve only mountain bikers.
• Creation of a precedent for other such requests.
• Safety issues regarding the cap integrity, erosion and runoff requiring increased monitoring and considerable costs.
• Potential of compromising cap integrity once the facility is used.
These concerns raise many questions, including:
• Is this a real need or just nice to have?
• What criteria determined safe public access? It has only been unavailable for 10 years whereas, commonly, capped landfills are withdrawn and closely monitored for decades.
• What alternative locations have been evaluated, like open areas on Fidalgo Head?
• Has a formal environmental review been conducted following guidelines like those in NEPA and SEPA? This would require assessment of alternatives including absolutely no human use.
As a retired professional engineer having years of experience with safety and environmental assessments on many federal projects, I believe the Parks Department proposal to build a bike park on the dump should be suspended while a SEPA—compliant assessment is conducted and all safety and environmental issues resolved.
Time to give up plastic bags
I commend the concerned citizens for asking the Anacortes City Council to ban lightweight single-use plastic bags from local stores.
It is time for Anacortes to join the movement to limit the amount of plastic that ends up in our landfills, waterways and digestive systems of our wildlife.
I’ve been using my own bags for years, and they are easy to care for and disinfect.
A reader contends there is cross contamination from cloth bags on the register belt at the grocery store. Cross contamination exists all around us on credit card readers, cash machines, gas pumps, restrooms, restaurant menus, TV remotes, smart phones and money. There are simple remedies to cross contamination.
I add my voice to those asking the City Council to just say no to these plastic carry-out bags.