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A video by Jon Lynn.
The Boondocks Trails written by Thad Allender.
Thumbnail image by Jon Nemecek
The Boondocks Trails are a world-class set of bike trails located in Pineridge Park in Melville, NY. The 162-acre park is landlocked between a landfill, parking lots, Interstate 495, and a residential neighborhood.
The park has been used by the public for decades for hiking and biking. Soil samples indicate that a major fire within the last 50 years destroyed what was presumably woodlands around the time of the construction of Interstate 495. The park is now comprised primarily of new oak trees and low-bush blueberry.
About 11 years ago, a group of volunteers began to maintain and improve the existing bike trails. The trails has been diligently maintained by dozens of local volunteers ever since. The bike trails consist of paths for beginners and experts. Riders as young as 2 years-old and as old as 76 years-old ride the trails. The hand-built trails are now at risk of being bulldozed by city officials from the Town of Huntington, with one local volunteer isolated and presented with the bill to pay for demolition.
The bike trails are a destination for local bike riders and riders from all over the world. For example, on Saturday August 27, riders from as far away as Australia visited the trails to ride the trails. There were also riders from Washington. D.C., New York City, upstate New York and various cities located in Long Island.
More than 3,000 bike riders visited these bike trails in 2016. They include engineers, CEO’s, firefighters, police officers, designers, construction workers, the list goes on and on.
On any weekend, the bicyclists who visit the trails purchase hotel rooms, train tickets, rental cars, food, and bike parts from local businesses. Every out-of-town bicyclist injects an estimated $100 per day into the local economy. It’s not uncommon to see upwards of 20 bicyclists riding these world-class trails on any Saturday or Sunday. These bicyclists are a familiar face at businesses including nearby restaurants including Kitchen Coliseum and bike shops like Bicycle Playground and Cyclefast USA. These bicyclists play an important role in the success of these local businesses. Without the trails, these businesses will suffer and there will be one less place to enjoy bike riding and the outdoors.
The volunteers who maintain the bike trails are stewards of the park, which has no on-site management or oversight. Unlike sports like golf, basketball and baseball that require expensive development, the terrain that bicyclists require is minimal, low-impact and environmentally-friendly. The only terrain required for bike trails is dirt. The trails were hand-built with shovels and work with the natural terrain and trees. Trees are never disturbed. Flora is always transplanted if it intersects a trail. Drainage is maintained to eliminate standing water. There is a stated “pack it in, pack it out” policy that is enforced by volunteers and respected by all bicyclists. The environmental impact of the bike trails is minimal. It’s precisely the type of outdoor activity that should be encouraged in landlocked, unmanaged parkland.
Destroying the bike trails with heavy machinery would cause irreparable damage to the park, it’s trees, it’s vegetation, and wildlife. It would also unintentionally create new roadways into the park, which ATV’s, motorcycles, and other motorized vehicles would unquestionably start using.
COST TO BUILD
The trails were hand-built with shovels over the course of 11 years by volunteers from the local community. The cost to build trails of this caliber, while maintaining the same minimal environmental impact, would cost the Town of Huntington well over one million of dollars.
In 2011, the city of Boulder Colorado spent $1.2 million dollars on the Valmont Bike Park, which the city considers a signature project. Similarly, the park attracts riders from all over the world.
The cost to rebuild this level of bike trails is easily in the millions of dollars. Many towns and cities around the country are paying millions to establish bike trails just like this for their local residents. The existing bike trails represent a 10,000 hour head-start and millions in savings that the Town of Huntington should take advantage of. The Town of Huntington should seize this opportunity and work with the local volunteers to establish “The Boondocks” as the first official bike park on Long Island.
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