Bike Skills Area at Upper Luther Burbank Park

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The City of Mercer Island will temporarily close the Bike Skills Area (formerly called the BMX Course) at Upper Luther Burbank Park for approximately six months due to significant operating challenges and safety concerns.

Over the last several years, use of the Bike Skills Area has been impacted by repeated unauthorized expansion of the course, damage to soils and established vegetation, and construction of jumps that exceed park rules. This closure will allow the City to ensure this park area is operating safely and sustainably.

Action Sports Design, a specialized consultant, will perform a full assessment of the site and make recommendations to improve the Bike Skills Area while minimizing environmental impacts. Trees in this area of the park will also be assessed for pruning and removals as necessary, and trees and shrubs will be planted this Winter to revegetate areas that have been damaged.

Public engagement is a preeminent focus during this closure. The City will activate several avenues to share feedback and ideas for the future of the Bike Skills Area, including a virtual public meeting on November 15, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. to discuss the project and answer questions.

Community members are invited to follow the City’s social media profiles for updates and visit this Let’s Talk page for details about the work being performed, engagement opportunities, and more on what’s ahead.


The City of Mercer Island will temporarily close the Bike Skills Area (formerly called the BMX Course) at Upper Luther Burbank Park for approximately six months due to significant operating challenges and safety concerns.

Over the last several years, use of the Bike Skills Area has been impacted by repeated unauthorized expansion of the course, damage to soils and established vegetation, and construction of jumps that exceed park rules. This closure will allow the City to ensure this park area is operating safely and sustainably.

Action Sports Design, a specialized consultant, will perform a full assessment of the site and make recommendations to improve the Bike Skills Area while minimizing environmental impacts. Trees in this area of the park will also be assessed for pruning and removals as necessary, and trees and shrubs will be planted this Winter to revegetate areas that have been damaged.

Public engagement is a preeminent focus during this closure. The City will activate several avenues to share feedback and ideas for the future of the Bike Skills Area, including a virtual public meeting on November 15, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. to discuss the project and answer questions.

Community members are invited to follow the City’s social media profiles for updates and visit this Let’s Talk page for details about the work being performed, engagement opportunities, and more on what’s ahead.


  • BSA Volunteer Restoration Event - May 14

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    Join EarthCorps and the City of Mercer Island on Saturday, May 14 from 10 am - 2 pm, while we mulch around the new native trees and shrubs that were planted in the boundary areas around the Upper Luther Burbank Bike Skills Area this winter. We will be spreading mulch around our new baby plants and removing invasive blackberry that is growing nearby. No experience necessary, but registration is required, and space is limited!

    Please bring a water bottle, and lunch for the mid-day break. Register here!

  • Parks & Recreation Commission Special Video Meeting

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    Mercer Island's Parks & Recreation Commission has scheduled a Special Video Meeting to discuss the Bike Skills Area on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 5:30 pm.

    If you wish to speak during the Appearances portion of the meeting, you must register your request with the staff liaison at 206.275.7870 or email and leave a message before 4 PM on the day of the Commission meeting. Please reference "Appearances" on your correspondence. Each speaker will be allowed three (3) minutes to speak.

    Instructions for joining the meeting can be found on the City's website.

  • BSA Assessment Report available

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    We are pleased to announce that Action Sports Design's report on the Bike Skills Area is now available!


  • The Bike Skills Area and PROS Plan - What’s the Deal?

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    City staff recognizes that there may be confusion about the upcoming approval of the 2022 PROS Plan and the Bike Skills Area. We hope the information below helps provide clarity and context.

    What is a PROS Plan?

    A Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan is a six-year plan that anticipates the programming and capital projects necessary to meet the community’s needs for parks, recreation and open space, as well as trails, arts, and cultural events. This Plan is required to maintain the City’s eligibility for state grants, and allows the community and City staff to prioritize projects during the biennial budget process.

    What about the Capital Facilities Plan (aka Master Capital Project List)?

    The PROS Plan includes a document called the Capital Facilities Plan. This is just a fancy name for the long-term parks capital project list or the master project list. Staff endeavor to include all potential capital projects that may be considered over the next twenty years on this list. Mere inclusion on this list does not, however, signal that the project will be completed. In fact, many of the projects will not proceed due to competing priorities, limited resources, or for other reasons.

    Projects included in the Capital Facilities Plan come from prior park master plans, staff recommendations and maintenance issues, anticipated asset replacement cycles, and community suggestions such as the outreach that just occurred as part of the PROS planning process.

    The Bike Skills Area project was added to the Capital Facilities Plan as a potential project. At the time the Capital Facilities Plan was developed, the project assessment was in its infancy.

    What does the PROS Plan say about the Bike Skills Area?

    In the Fall of 2021, the decision was made to temporarily close the Bike Skills Area to address a number of concerns. These issues included repeated unauthorized expansion of the course, damage to soils and established vegetation, and construction of jumps that exceed park rules. It became clear to staff that addressing the current state of the Bike Skills Area was critical and the decision was made to temporarily close the facility and engage a consultant (Action Sports Design) to complete an assessment of the site.

    At the time that the Capital Facilities Plan was developed, which was also in the Fall of 2021, the temporary closure had just occurred. A future potential project was included in the Capital Facilities Plan as a placeholder while the assessment work at the Bike Skills Area proceeded. The potential project is described in the Plan as “improve bike skills area at Upper Luther Burbank Park. Improvements limited to current footprint, final scope of work TBD.” The cost estimate for this project is listed as $215,000 in 2022. This estimate is a planning level cost-estimate.

    Does Adoption of the PROS Plan mean that the Bikes Skills Area Improvement Project is approved?

    No.

    The Bike Skills Area Improvement project is on a separate path from the PROS Plan. The project team is completing the assessment of the Bike Skills Area and will share that information with the Parks and Recreation Commission at an upcoming meeting. The meeting date has not yet been set.

    Has the Bike Skills Area Capital Improvement Project been funded?

    No.

    Funding for the actual improvements will require an appropriation from the City Council. The amount of the appropriation request will be based on a refined cost estimate developed during the design process.

    How was the Bike Skills Area assessment funded?

    Costs associated with the Bike Skills Area assessment and the recent restoration work are limited in scope and funded through existing capital budgets identified for small projects and capital reinvestment on park lands.

    Will there be an opportunity to provide public input on the Bike Skills Area Assessment?

    Yes.

    The Parks and Recreation Commission will take public testimony on the assessment before finalizing their recommendation to the City Council. The Commission meeting date will be shared on the Let’s Talk Page and through the City’s communications channels as soon as it is known.

    What is the current status of the Bike Skills Area and the consultant report?

    The Bike Skills Area remains closed while City staff await the completion of the consultant’s report. The final report has been delayed on the consultant’s side due to unexpected health reasons.

    The final report will include recommendations to address the identified issues at the Bike Skills Area and a concept-level redesign of the bike area (incorporating feedback from the past two surveys). The report will also include a cost estimate for the construction of such improvements. As noted previously, this information will be presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission at a future meeting. 

    What work is currently happening at the Bike Skills Area?

    City staff are working on some of the most immediate needs at the site. This includes flattening existing jumps to aid drainage and reduce pooling, re-grading the edges of the Bike Skills Area to ensure that undercut hillsides are stabilized, and replanting native shrubs and trees on slopes just outside of the course to reduce erosion.

    The regrading and replanting work was identified early as an important priority to create a sustainable site for the Bike Skills Area. Native plantings are more successful if they are established during the ‘wet season’ and volunteers have been a big part in this planting work. Regrading and replanting is critical to reducing erosion and creating a safe park space.

    This work was planned prior to engaging the consultant to perform the assessment, and would have taken place regardless of the status of the PROS Plan or any projects listed therein.

  • Thank you, volunteers!

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    This Saturday, City staff and EarthCorps led a successful volunteer planting event at the BSA, installing over 400 plants around the edges of the bike course! These native shrubs and trees will help stabilize recently regraded slopes and reduce future erosion at the site. City staff will continue to plant and mulch over the coming weeks. If you're in the area, please stop by to see the plants in their new homes.

    Many thanks to the 15 volunteers who took time out of a sunny winter day to give back to Upper Luther Burbank Park and help sustain a healthy forest in one of the Island's most beautiful open spaces. We are grateful for your hard work!

    Please stay tuned to this page for future volunteer opportunities.

  • January 2022 Updates

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    Assessment Report delayed

    Staff at Action Sports Design have been significantly impacted by the recent COVID surge, delaying their work on the final report to the City. We hope to make the report available to the public by mid-February, and will begin to discuss next steps for the BSA shortly thereafter. Stay tuned to this page for updates!


    Volunteer Planting Event - February 12th

    The City has contracted with EarthCorps to lead a volunteer event at the Bike Skills Area on Saturday, February 12, 2022 from 10 am to 2 pm. The event will be focused on planting native shrubs and trees on the edges of the bike area, which will help stabilize soils on steep slopes. You can sign up to participate in the volunteer event here. Participation is limited to 20 volunteers, and COVID protocols will be strictly enforced. Please visit the sign up site for more information!


  • Rider Questionnaire #2 now open!

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    CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.
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    Rider Questionnaire #2 Now Available!

    On Tuesday, December 14, the City launched a second online survey for bike riders that use the Bike Skills Area at Upper Luther Burbank Park.

    The information collected in the survey will be used by the City’s consultant (Action Sports Design) to develop specific recommendations that reflect course user interests. Please don't delay – the survey will close at 11:59 PM on December 22, 2021.

    Thank you for your continued engagement!

  • Re-grading work begins at BSA

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    Parks Maintenance staff have begun regrading work at the Bike Skills Area in Upper Luther Burbank Park. This work aims to restore the native soil at the base of the slopes and the edge of the course, using a small excavator. The jumps at the Bike Skills Area were created by 'borrowing' soil from the area surrounding the course, which undercut the slopes. Regrading these areas will return the soil to the bases of those hillsides, reducing the chance of slope movement and providing a planting medium. Our Open Space Team is working on a replanting plan for this area which will slow and (eventually) stop the erosion of these slopes.


    In case you missed the public meeting, the following preliminary recommendations from the consultant include:

    • Jumps will be professionally designed & maintained in their designed form
    • Bike Skills Area will remain within existing footprint
    • Restore soil to undercut hillsides and tree root zones
  • November 15th Public Meeting

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    UPDATE: Unfortunately, the recording of this meeting was impacted by technical issues and is not available. You can view a recorded version of the presentation here.


    Are you interested in the current work being done at the Bike Skills Area in Upper Luther Burbank Park? Do you want to learn more about the future of this facility and provide feedback?

    Please join us at the upcoming public meeting on Monday, November 15 at 4:00pm! City staff will be joined by Mike McIntyre, Principal at Action Sports Design, to talk about next steps for the Bike Skills Area. We encourage you to join via computer - we'll be asking participants to provide answers to polling questions and give feedback in the chat box.

    To join on November 15, click this link to access the Zoom meeting:
    Join Zoom Meeting

  • Survey Now Available

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    CLOSED: This survey has concluded.
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    Bike Skills Area User Survey Now Available!

    On Monday, October 25, the City launched an online survey for bike riders that use the Bike Skills Area at Upper Luther Burbank Park.

    The information collected in the survey will be used by the City’s consultant (Action Sports Design) to tailor recommendations for the site to current uses and course user interests. Don’t delay though – the survey will close at 11:59 PM on November 4th.

    We look forward to hearing from you!

Page last updated: 19 Apr 2022, 05:24 PM