SALISBURY – Local bicycle advocates pushed the Salisbury City Council this week to sanction a plan to rebuild the city park’s trails on the east side.
At the conclusion of this week’s City Council meeting, Eastern Shore International Mountain Bicycling Association (ESIMBA) President Tres Denk came before the council to further a discussion that occurred last month.
On Dec. 17, 2012, ESIMBA leader and Salisbury resident Jeff Dean came before the council asking the city form an agreement with the association too allow them to give the existing trails on the east end of the city park a makeover.
At that time, the council majority was not willing to move forward with the plan due to several concerns, such as the impact on the park’s environment. Dean responded that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had already reviewed and signed off on the project, but the council had not seen a copy of such a report.
This week Denk came forward to support Dean, who currently maintains the city park trails.
“I too started biking there when I was a young man and I am interested in continuing that … but they are not as nice as we would like them to be,” he said.
Denk said the goal is to provide maintained trails for kids to learn how to ride their bike on or provide additional area to exercise, such as hiking or jogging. The trails would not be what people imagine for mountain biking or stunts.
“I just wish the City Council would bring this proposal to a vote in favor so that we can move this project forward as far as the planning itself goes … it seems that everyone is somewhat in favor of it and it is just the details that have to be worked out,” he said. “The east end of the park there could use some spring cleaning this year and we would be more than happy to do it.”
Next, Matt Drew of bike-Sby came before the council to support ESIMBI. Drew took the opportunity to remind the council of the progress made for the bicycle community partly due to their leadership.
“This summer we were successful in passing a bike lane ordinance for a number of streets,” he said. “We have been working really hard through our advocacy group here in Salisbury, bike-Sby, with the public works department, and we have a goal this spring to have the first bike lane in place on Camden Avenue, which I will also remind you that we will have a two-mile section that would connect the University to the downtown Salisbury section.”
Drew has lived, worked and raised a family in Salisbury for the last 23 years and in that time has developed a great appreciation for the city park.
“I have walked and ran countless times on those trails, I have taken out-of-town guests to show off our zoo, and I have spent many hours with my neighbors and friends building and maintaining Ben’s Red Swings. It is our community that built and sustained the park and its wonderful amenities,” he said.
Taking a look back in time Drew said it was 10 years ago when local enthusiasts cleared undergrowth and maintained a series of narrow single track trails on the park’s east side. These trails were used by only a handful of people for biking, hiking and stream access for fishing. Eventually the trails became overgrown as trail riding activity shifted to other venues.
Today, the ESIMBA want to build and maintain off road trails for biking and hiking. This group has over the past two years completed a three-mile network of wooded trails at the Pocomoke YMCA and the use of these trails is on the rise.
It was two years ago that ESIMBA announced that it had reached the DNR to create a 10-plus mile trail network that will connect the Tarr and Hudson Tract in Worcester County, just south of Shad Landing.
“This is just not an informal group of folks that are getting together and dreaming about stuff. These guys are actually doing it,” Drew said. “They are a very effective organization as they have proved they can work with public and private land owners to bring about trails to working communities.”
It was in December of 2011 that Dean finalized the plan to rebuild and further develop the over grown trails at the east end of the city park, and has worked with the Mayor’s Office, City Park Committee and City Council to have the plan sanctioned so the all-volunteer group of ESIMBA can begin work.
“In this current year that we live, having cost effective services provided to citizens are a very difficult challenge for local leaders,” he said. “Now is the time for this group, the City Council, to finalize this framework by enacting legislation to accept this agreement and allow these citizens to make this community better.”
Council President Terry Cohen responded the council is waiting on liability information from the city attorney and when that information is received she will look to schedule a formal discussion with ESIMBA.