Friends of Luscher Farm hope to kill plan for bike park, trails
Plans to build a mountain-bike skills course and two miles of soft-surface trails at Luscher Farm have hit a major obstacle.
Representatives of the Friends of Luscher Farm have announced that they hope to stop any further progress on the Parks & Recreation Department proposal, saying it doesn't reflect the uses specified in the Luscher Area Master Plan (LAMP).
"We're not anti-mountain bike," said Nancy Gronowski, a Lake Oswego resident, longtime park planner with the City of Portland and member of the Friends group. "We just think Luscher Farm isn't the place."
Concept designs for the Parks Department proposal, unveiled at a couple of community open houses in November, incorporate some of the mowed trails that already wind their way through the 47-acre property bordered by Stafford Road to the west and Rosemont Road to the south. Additional soft-surface trails would also be built.
The Farr Bike Park, which would be located at the northern edge of the Luscher Farm property off Bergis Road, was designed by Christopher Bernhardt at C2 Recreation Consulting in Portland. It would include three downhill skills courses that vary in difficulty, with jumps in a range of sizes, banked turns, logs, wall rides and other features for mountain and BMX bikers to tackle. At the bottom of the three courses would be a trail that leads back to the top, where a large dirt berm would allow users to drop back into each course.
Plans for the bike park also call for a bike parking pad (cars would use the nearby lot at Hazelia Field), signs, a welcome kiosk, a porta-potty pad and a shade structure. Total cost for all of the trails is estimated at $250,000.
Gronowski joined fellow Friends organizer and Parks Board member Heidi Schrimsher — along with Olga Moriarty — in opposing the park and trail system at the Park Board's Dec. 19 meeting. Their argument included three parts:
• First, the group believes the proposed multi-use trails would actually be "single-track" trails designed specifically for mountain bikes to navigate the property,rather than the 5-foot-wide gravel trails for walking and hiking that the master plan — created as the guiding document for the property in 2013 — requires.
• Second, the Friends assert that the 2.64-acre Farr Property was originally intended to be used for a low-impact, passive-use neighborhood park, not a mountain bike skills park.
• And finally, they fear that a system of trails and a bike park would be an open invitation to mountain bikers from all over the region, turning Luscher Farm from a bucolic location intended for agricultural education and recreation into a regional destination for mountain bikes.
"Why would we put so much time into the master plan if we're not going to respect that?" Moriarty asked the parks board. "This doesn't speak to the integrity of Luscher Farm."
But Parks Director Ivan Anderholm refuted some of those assertions, which were also included in a letter sent to him by Gronowski, Schrimsher and Moriarty earlier in the month. (Schrimsher also explained the Friends' stance in a Citizen's View published Dec. 20 in The Review.)
Anderholm told the board that the preliminary design — which was drawn up so that Parks & Rec could submit a land-use application to Clackamas County to see if putting the new facilities at Luscher Farm was even possible — called for multi-use, soft-surface trails that are 36-48 inches wide, not single-track trails as the Friends group alleges. Single-track trails are defined as being just wide enough for one mountain bike to navigate.
"The LAMP calls for a balance of uses, which includes walking, hiking and biking trails," Anderholm said. "There are many instances of successful implementation of multi-use trails at places like Powell Butte Nature Park and Mt. Tabor."
Furthermore, Anderholm said, he believes the small scale of the proposed Farr Bike Park is unlikely to cause Luscher Farm to become a regional destination.
At the end of the discussion, Schrimsher made a motion for the board to kill the proposal for trails and a bike park, but no second was made. Other board members said they felt they didn't have enough information to make a decision like that at this juncture, and they requested more time to be filled in on what the proposal calls for.
Board members also want to visit the Farr Property, where the bike park would be constructed. As a result, the board's upcoming January meeting will take place at Luscher Farm.
Anderholm said he also is in the process of scheduling three more opportunities for public input before any official decision is made. Those gatherings will likely be held in February, March and April.