SANTA CLARA – City officials have revealed plans for an outdoor sports park in the hills south of Santa Clara that would include access to mountain bike trails plus a number of other activities, including running, hiking, Frisbee golf and cyclocross, a form of bicycle racing that includes both off-road conditions and portions of pavement.
The proposed park is located on 44 acres south and west of the city water tanks in the South Hills area. A preliminary concept plan was presented to the Santa Clara City Council Wednesday.
The park is designed around outdoor recreation, Santa Clara City Parks Director Brad Hays said, and will include parking, restrooms and day-use picnic areas as well as some unique features.
“We’re going to have a nine-hole Frisbee golf course,” Hays said. “We’re going to have a running track that’s over a mile and it’s a trail-type running track, but it will be improved with a decomposed granite surface on it.”
A children’s nature museum will include information about native plants and animals in the area and provide other activities. A large faux-rock climbing area is also in the plans.
Another park feature will explain the geological features visible in the panoramic view from the park site, Hays said, which includes Zion National Park, Pine Mountain and the red and white sandstone cliffs which form Snow Canyon State Park.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Hays said. “I hope we can get everything approved and get going on it.”
Plans also include a pump track, which is similar to a BMX track, BLM Recreation Planner Dave Kiel said.
“It has a series of jumps built into it, so once you get your momentum going, you theoretically in a lot of cases don’t even have to pedal because you’re coming off one jump and then you’re hitting the downhill of another jump … it’s like a rhythm thing.”
A pump track is shorter and more compact than a BMX track. It has several jumps and banked turns and doubles back on itself.
“Kids love them and so do adults,” Kiel said.
The park will be designed to host mountain biking and trail-running events such as the True Grit race which Santa Clara already hosts, Hays said. The new park would provide a staging area for True Grit and possibly other outdoor events, with three different parking areas in the concept plan that would accommodate up to 140 vehicles.
The popular Green Valley Gap staging area is slated for development, pushing out many large outdoor events such as the Utah High School Cycling League state championship, which drew more than 800 riders for last year’s event.
Recreation officials have been looking for a new staging area for the race and other large events such as True Grit, Fall Fury, Cactus Hugger and the Huntsman World Senior Games downhill and cross-country biking.
The closure of the Green Valley staging area is pushing usage into the South Hills of Santa Clara, Hays said, and the new outdoor sports park may fill some of that need.
Another reason for the new park is simply the growing population of Santa Clara, Hays said. As the city grows, new parks need to be built.
There are 30 miles of existing mountain biking trails in the area — including the Cove Wash trail — and another 45 miles of trails are planned by the BLM, Kiel said. About 15 miles of trails are planned for the immediate vicinity of the new park, and another 30 miles in the area west of the park.
The site of the proposed park is within Santa Clara City limits, but the land is currently owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Santa Clara officials are hoping to acquire the land permanently under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act.
The Recreation and Public Purposes Act allows the BLM to transfer land for public purposes such as schools and parks. In Washington County, many schools, golf courses, parks, fire stations, cemeteries, libraries and even a BMX track were built on land acquired under the act.
“They’ve got some interesting ideas for that (South Hills) area,” Kiel said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”
Before construction can begin, plans will go before the Santa Clara Planning Commission, Hays said, and a public hearing will be held. An environmental assessment will also be performed.
“It’s not until that is finished that we could give the approval to go ahead,” Kiel said. “So it would be several months … there’s a lot of variables in there.”
Once the park is built and operating, the BLM can approve transfer of the land to the city under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act, Kiel said.
“There has to be a period of time where that shows that they’re in compliance with their plan of development, and then we sign it over to them,” Kiel said.
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