Today's Paper Sports Obits Tablet Help Time Tour Podcasts Public Notices Classifieds Newsletters Puzzles Crime HER Contact us Jobs

Summer grand opening planned for bicycle park

by David Showers | May 25, 2023 at 4:05 a.m.
A photo from the Nov. 18, 2022, edition of the city of Hot Springs' "Weekly Snapshot" shows crews sculpting the pump track by hand. Phase 1 of Velocity Park runs adjacent to the Hot Springs Creek Greenway Trail on Valley Street. Because of the unique twists and turns, all the paving had to be done by hand. - Submitted photo

The city plans to open its Valley Street bicycle skills park in July, but some riders aren't waiting for an invitation.

"We've got people who are enjoying it on their own right now," Parks and Trails Director Anthony Whittington told the Hot Springs Board of Directors last week. "It's definitely something that a lot of people have been waiting for in this community."

District 4 Director Dudley Webb said he and his family recently toured Velocity Park on foot.

"Once it has that official grand opening, I think we'll test it out with a bike," he told Whittington. "I like the way it looks. I think it's a great addition to our city."

Whittington said the initial phase the city broke ground on in August is about 90% complete. The 40-space parking lot has to be paved, and the large storm drain under the parking area is in the process of being replaced. The natural surface skills track that rings the park can't be completed until excavation work on the storm drain is finished.

Whittington said the park will be the latest addition to the recreational corridor the city has developed on Valley Street. It's next to the Hot Springs Creek Greenway Trail, Valley Street Skate Park and the Majestic Park baseball complex on the site of the former Boys & Girls Club of Hot Springs.

"We're marketing it as a place for anything with human-powered wheels, mountain bike, BMX, roller blades, roller skates, push scooters," Whittington said.

The park's name is meant to denote speed, which riders will need to negotiate the asphalt pump track at the center, but it's also on brand with the city's push to become a bicycling destination. Whittington has said he didn't realize velo was the French word for bicycle when he put the park's name on the application for the grant that partially funded phase one.

The happy accident gave the park name an alternate meaning: "bicycle city."

"On the weekends there's definitely a lot of activity on the asphalt portion, and a lot of excitement from the cycling community," Whittington told the board. "Youth groups are excited to practice their skills and take it to the Northwoods."

Last week the board authorized the city to apply for $250,000 in Arkansas Outdoor Recreation Grant funding for the bicycle playground the city is planning to build on the other side of Hot Springs Creek. The $131,000 in ORG funding helped pay the $270,895 contract the board awarded American Ramp Co. last year for construction of phase one.

Whittington said a $250,000 grant and city matching funds will pay for the bicycle playground. He said he expects construction to begin next spring.

"It will be next to the butterfly garden," he told the board. "It's designed to be used by youth and beginning riders. It will have ground-level components. They can practice their skills and go across the creek on the more technical stuff of phase one."

The city's $250,000 match will come from the general fund-supported parks and trails budget. The $34.25 million adopted general fund budget projected a $330,000 cost for the playground and allocated $165,000 for parks and trails grant matches.

Print Headline: Summer grand opening planned for bicycle park


Sponsor Content