Metro Parks staff met with several members of KyMBA on Decemeber 5th to discuss the possibility of adding mountain bike trails to Iroquois Park. Director, Mike Heitz followed up with the group with a letter explaining why an extensive trail system at Iroquois Park would not be addressed at this time.
The main issues involved include:
• PUBLIC REVIEW. Any substantial change in uses, such as adding mountain bikes to the existing trails should go through a public planning and review process that includes all user groups including hikers, equestrians, golfers, disc golfers, and general public who use the park but are not part of an organized group.
• SAFETY would need to be addressed – site distances, grades, compatibility of different user groups on those trails.
• SUSTAINABILITY OF THE TRAILS – both horses and bikes are hard on trails. Parts of the existing bridle path did undergo a big “hardening” as part of the Olmsted Plan implementation in the early 2000s, but mountain bikers want hills not flat land so it is highly unlikely they would stay on the lower, more sustainably designed trail. Soil at Iroquois Park is primarily considered loess. This type of soil has a very small particle size and is susceptible to erosion by water and wind which is only compounded by the steepness of the terrain. Currently, the Olmsted Master Plan calls for hiking-only trails on the hillsides.
As stated before, these reasons alone do not remove the opportunity from Iroquois, but simply requires time to develop in the best manner possible for the health of the park. In the meantime, this proposal will be “shelved” in order for us to focus on another area of the park that has garnered overwhelming support from the community: the Northern Overlook. Metro Parks and the Olmsted Parks Conservancy are committed to the improvement to this area of Iroquois Park and have made it the number one capital request in the upcoming budget. If funding is approved, a site design would be necessary before improvements can be made. This will certainly impact any trail system located on or around the hillside. Therefore, we believe that once the planning and design has been completed for the Northern Overlook we can move forward on other amenities.
Metro Parks very much supports the idea of mountain bike trail expansion in the community and, at our meeting with KyMBA, we also discussed the exciting potential of the Moreman Hill area at Jefferson Memorial Forest as a possible location for building a world-class trail system. KyMBA representatives, as well as national consultants whom they brought in to attend the meeting, share Parks enthusiasm for such a project at the Forest, and Parks staff have been investigating sources of funding that could matched with KyMBA resources to bring this idea to fruition.