ALAMO HEIGHTS —Locals using the temporary bicycle park have through March 19 to use enjoy riding in that area. Afterward, the city will set up a permanent safe place nearby for cyclists to use bike jumps.
Alamo Heights City Council voted Feb. 8 to extend the current temporary license agreement to continue using a strip of land west of Alamo Heights Boulevard next to the Bark Park of Alamo Heights.
The city originally intended to close the temporary bike park Feb. 8, but has been working toward securing an adjacent property as a permanent dedicated spot for children and teenagers to use bike jumps. The temporary park opened in mid-December.
The council settled on a parcel of land between the dog park and the northernmost Alamo Heights Little League fields.
City staff is currently working on a memorandum of understanding, a property survey, a land clearing plan, and cost estimates.
The city considered two other properties. One was a larger piece tract closer to Corona Avenue, north of the temporary bike park. Some residents along Corona had expressed concerns about moving the bike park closer to them.
The other proposed location was a swath of land along Hondondo Creek south of the Little League fields.
It was Friends of Hondondo Creek, a local volunteer group, who had first raised worries in 2020 about youngsters riding their bicycles along the natural creek trails and using bike jumps there during the spring/summer surge of COVID-19 cases.
City staff has been communicating with representatives from the Little League, Bark Park, Friends of Hondondo Creek, and residents living in the immediate area about temporary and permanent bike park solutions.
“We’re thrilled by a temporary solution, but we want to keep up the momentum and work with stakeholders to find a permanent solution,” parent Kirstin Silberschlag has said.
The council voted Dec. 14 to approve an agreement with volunteers maintaining the Alamo Heights Bark Park to use a piece of land north of the short-term locale.
Councilman Lawson Jessee said it was important for the city to settle on a lasting venue soon.
“As you can see, there’s an overflow of demand,” he added.
Municipal leaders and some residents have supported efforts to reserve a safe public place for recreational cycling, which many children and teenagers see as a break from quarantining and restrictions brought on by the pandemic.
The temporary bike park is open sunrise to sunset. Users haven’t been allowed to enter the natural areas north and west of the bike park.
Several attending the December council meeting included adult and young supporters of the bike park.
Resident Bobby Jones told the council since many students have been doing virtual learning for months, creating healthy ways to reduce youngsters’ online time has been challenging.
“Biking is an outlet that my children, and as a parent, I fully support … as exercise and a form of social interaction among children,” he said.
Last spring and summer, neighbors grew worried about youths riding bicycles on the Hondondo Creek trails and even building jump ramps along the paths, where wheeled vehicles are prohibited.
The city worked with the Friends of Hondondo Creek, a volunteer group, to remove the bike jumps and discourage cyclists.
Yet, parents voiced concerns their children had no safe option in town to cycle, especially with more people in quarantine, working or studying at home, and trying to find recreational outlets.
Parent Brooke Leddy said some Hondondo Creek cyclists were forced to compete with walkers and hikers after being forced out of the natural area.
Members of the nonprofit Alamo Heights Bike Park emerged from community discussions and teamed with city staff to designate a bike spot.
Municipal officials said the parking area near the Bark Park was a quick-fix answer and safe for youngsters to ride their bicycles, particularly with jump ramps.
“We look forward to working with you to make this short-term destination a long-term gift and a win for our children,” Leddy said.
Alamo Heights High School sophomore Weston Cox pedals his bicycle everywhere.
“Having a safe place to ride, like a temporary bike park, would help tremendously to keep kids off their devices and to get outside and be more active,” he said.
Laurie Saunders, who started the Bark Park, asked whether the temporary bike park’s location would have an impact on overflow parking for dog-park visitors or Alamo Heights Little League spring activities.
Mayor Bobby Rosenthal said buffers exist to prevent interference between cyclists and the dog park. He also promised the temporary home for riders would close after Feb. 8.
Aside from her initial concerns, Saunders showed support for the interim bike park: “I’m all for it. I think kids need to be outside. I encourage my grandson a lot to be outside.”
“I just think it’s a good way for them to socialize and to learn,” Councilwoman Lynda Billa Burke said about the bike park.
For more about the bike park, visit ahbikepark.org.