Off-road mountain bike park proposed for Cottage Grove's West Draw Park
West Draw Park on the north side of Cottage Grove could soon be the newest haven for mountain bike enthusiasts from around the metro.
The sprawling 26-acre, open concept park has attracted residents with its kid-friendly play structure, three soccer fields, and ample picnic shelters. However, Cottage Grove resident Chance Glasford hopes to soon add mountain bike park to the list of park activities.
Glasford, a competitive BMX rider, recently presented park designs to the Cottage Grove Parks and Recreation Board and received unanimous support from all members, including Parks and Recreation Director Zac Dockter.
"I think this is a great idea," Dockter said. "I was there last month observing and those involved in the project were just as passionate then as they are now."
Proposing to use a mere two acres of currently under-utilized park land, Glasford and volunteers with Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC) want to construct a twisting, turning, high-flying bike park in Cottage Grove.
With a total cost of around $48,000, about $21,000 of the construction expenses would be assessed to the city. The city's portion of the project would cover general park maintenance such as extending water lines, restoring nine acres of prairie land and providing a small monument to mark the entrance of the park. The rest of the project is proposed to be funded through sponsorships and grants and donated by volunteer work.
"I think the biggest thing this mountain bike park would give the residents of Cottage Grove is an alternative activity," Glasford said. "There are some kids that aren't really into organized team sports and the mountain bike park, similar to a skate park, gives them an outlet to get outside, away from the television, and get active."
Mountain biking has recently caught the interest of more novice, intermediate and expert riders throughout the country, and bike parks specifically designed with jumps, obstacle courses and riding tracks are popping up in Minnesota. In the Twin Cities area, there are 18 off-road mountain bike trails, with the closest one to Cottage Grove located in Eagan.
Known to many locals as simply the Eagan Bike Park, Lexington Street Bike Park and Dirt Jumps was constructed last spring with the dedicated help of Glasford and MORC volunteers. The park was designed to include several jumps, 90-degree berms, and pump tracks, which allows for a rider to coast along a winding track without pedaling. Much like the Eagan Bike Park, Glasford is hoping to expand on the layout at the proposed Cottage Grove bike park.
"This bike park is going to be great for all ages," Glasford said. "From our experience in Eagan, riders as young as 4 years old and those as old as 67 enjoy the park. (The park in Cottage Grove) will be for all ages, and will be focused on progression so we can take riders who have never ridden before and build them up to as far as they want to go in the sport."
Last week, the board sent the plans to the Cottage Grove City Council for final approval, which were scheduled to be discussed during the council's regular meeting Wednesday night, March 20.
The proposed bike park would include a four-cross or mountain-cross track which facilitates downhill, BMX-style racing on a track with hills. Also proposed in the design are advanced jump lines, beginner and intermediate jump lines, a mountain bike skills area, several pump tracks and tot track for the youngest riders.
"This bike park would give the residents of Cottage Grove a sense of ownership and an opportunity to be involved in volunteering," Glasford said. "Hopefully it has a positive economic impact on the community as well."
"It's just a great environment to learn to ride, build your skills and hang out with your friends," added Reed Smidt, chair of the MORC board of directors. "We take this project very seriously and we want to set this park up to be a long-term community facility and make this a success."
If the council approves the plans, Glasford said he anticipates a construction start date as early as May. However, construction plans, he said, would be dependent on when the city completes a planned prairies restoration of a portion of the park.