The city has temporarily closed the Bike Skills Area at Upper Luther Burbank Park for assessment. Photo courtesy of the city of Mercer Island

The city has temporarily closed the Bike Skills Area at Upper Luther Burbank Park for assessment. Photo courtesy of the city of Mercer Island

City temporarily closes Bike Skills Area for assessment

‘The site is repeatedly damaged,’ according to city manager.

Due to significant operating challenges and safety concerns, on Oct. 7 the city closed and fenced off the Bike Skills Area at Upper Luther Burbank Park for approximately six months.

Formerly known as the BMX Course, the area that consists of biking trails and jumps will be off-limits as specialized consultant Action Sports Design performs a full assessment of the site and city crews perform restoration work and implement the consultant’s recommendations and possible site modifications.

“Temporarily closing a park facility is something that happens only as a last resort,” said Mercer Island City Manager Jessi Bon. “I can assure you that your city staff have invested an incredible amount of time in managing the Bike Skills Area and our current approach is not working – the site is repeatedly damaged, including the installation of potentially unsafe modifications to the course, and ongoing degradation of forested areas.”

Bike Skills Area improvements are listed as part of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan. During its assessment, the consultant — whose projects include bike parks, BMX racetracks, skateparks and more — will make recommendations to improve the area while minimizing environmental impacts, and city staff will assess trees and perform pruning and removals as necessary. In the winter, Natural Resources staff will replant trees and shrubs to revegetate areas that have been damaged.

To encourage public involvement, the city will hold a virtual meeting at 4 p.m. Nov. 15 to discuss the project and answer questions from residents.

“Now is the time for community collaboration,” Bon said. “This important amenity serves teens and young adults on the Island and I’m committed to safe recreation opportunities for all ages. Let’s come together to discuss the future of the Bike Skills Area as a community.”

One Facebook commenter on the city’s page voiced disappointment that the city closed the area on such short notice and so long before the public meeting. The city replied that was because the consultant needs to analyze and assess the course in its present state.

For more information, visit https://letstalk.mercergov.org/bike-skills-area-at-upper-luther-burbank-park


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