city of cleveland awarded $10k for outdoor mountain bike park

The City of Cleveland has been awarded $10,000 from the International Mountain Bike Association to develop plans for a mountain bike park at Kerruish Park, a large green space in the Lee-Harvard neighborhood on the southeast side of the city.

Ward 1 Councilman Terrell Pruitt believes the project will be a significant addition to his neighborhood. "The idea of developing an outdoor mountain bike park in the city of Cleveland, and providing recreational access to the community, is a significant game-changer for our community," he said in a statement. "I look forward to taking this concept and making it a reality."

The project is just one of several initiatives underway to provide amenities for mountain bikers in Northeast Ohio, according to Brian Zimmerman, CEO of the Cleveland Metroparks, which is helping provide technical assistance on the design and maintenance of the trail.

"A few years ago, there was the perception that mountain bikers were going in and potentially not understanding the complexity of these ecosystems," says Zimmerman. "I find the exact opposite. There's a willingness to learn about natural resources. They'll actually build sustainable trails with our teams. There's truly a connection to community and place."

The Cleveland Metroparks currently has mountain bike trails at Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation and Mill Stream Run Reservation. A third mountain bike trail will open this spring at the Bedford Reservation.

"It's a shared use concept that's really focused on building a sustainable trail," Zimmerman adds, emphasizing that the trails can also be used for hiking. "With that comes a dedication to preserving our natural resource areas."

The Metroparks is also working closely with Pruitt, the City of Cleveland and neighborhood leaders to create trail linkages from the Towpath Trail to Garfield Reservation to Kerruish Park. Ultimately, Zimmerman says, it will be possible to ride your bike between all three green spaces.

"This project really falls in line with the Cleveland Metropark's vision and our strategic plan for 2020 -- connecting communities and neighborhoods to natural resource assets," he says.

Pruitt says that over $6 million has been invested in Kerruish Park in the last decade or so. New paved trails, pavilions and swing sets have been installed. The mountain bike track will help provide access to 100 acres of unimproved land and keep vandals out by focusing on positive uses for this underutilized property.

"The community is excited about this," says Pruitt, who describes a two-tiered concept of a basic mountain bike trail and a "pump trail" with jumps, hills and curves for more advanced riders. "Kids don't have the same knowledge about bikes that I did when I was a kid. This is helping to grow more healthy activity."

Once a plan for the mountain bike park is in place, Pruitt says he will seek funding from local and national sources and recruit volunteers to help build the trail.

Sources: Brian Zimmerman, Terrell Pruitt
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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