Status of Harriet Hollister Spencer Park
Highlights of Recent Meeting of Advisory Team/User Group, 3/28/13
- GROC was invited to this meeting by the new park manager, Arthur Briley. Attending were folks from various groups who use the park, including XC skiers, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, hikers, dog walkers, hang gliders (who jump off at the lookout), dogsledders and snowshoers.
- Mr. Briley made the point that the trails are all shared use with some reasonable cautions to accommodate snowmobiling and non motorized winter activity trail users, but no real segregation and no bias expressed by him or any of the trail users concerning mountain biking; we are clearly welcome to ride there.
- He is open to mountain bikers and others to do maintenance on existing trails. He is open to folks building new trails, with the only requirement being that they must first get his approval.
- He wants to create accurate maps of existing trails with GIS technology
- There is a new property that they have acquired south of the existing park, apparently just as large, but the two parcels are separated by about 1/4 mile of private property, open for winter use on a connecting trail by snowmobilers. It isn't clear if permission from the land owner could be obtained to allow use of that trail the rest of the year by other trail users. A separate access and possible parking development was discussed to allow folks to use "HHSP-South" as it was referred to.
- Dogs must be on lead in the park; this will be enforced.
What does this mean to GROC and to mountain bikers in general?
- Up to now, the major mountain biking presence at HHSP has been the Park Ave Bike team, which maintains a 7-mile loop used in their annual race. There apparently is a Livingston Bike Club, represented at the meeting, but it is unknown if they have done anything significant there.
- Known to anyone who has ridden there, HHSP has tremendous untapped potential as a riding venue year round , if one considers fat tire bikes in the winter, too. There are no active opposition groups and manager, Arthur Briley seems to be welcoming our activity with open arms.
The biggest limitations on development of more trails there are:
- The distance from a large pool of riders and therefore, of potential trail building and maintenance mountain bikers.
- The strain that GROC is currently under to properly develop and maintain as stewards of our existing venues.
- The expressed desire of many of our members for more riding closer to home in Monroe County.
- If this park were to be developed to its maximum potential, it would take one or more dedicated persons to lead the effort. Someone willing to work closely with the land manager to develop a plan, recruit volunteers and stay dedicated for the long term. The role of GROC in this is uncertain and highly dependent on our available resources (volunteers-YOU). GROC leaders could certainly make ourselves available to guide based on our collective knowledge and experience in building sustainable trails and creating signage and mapping, if this person or persons desired. If the interested parties are going to be part of GROC, they also could use our Trail Crew Meetup page to post work parties, too.
- No matter whether more comes of this opportunity, it certainly is refreshing to see that there are places where mountain biking is treated as a legitimate trail activity from the get go, with no opposing groups trying to obstruct the process with lies, fear-mongering and loathing.
Mark Rosenzweig, Advocacy Chairperson
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