Mountain bike skills park planned at Jones Center

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 735 views 

The Jones Trust will build a 2.75-acre mountain bike skills park on The Jones Center for Families campus in downtown Springdale, according to a press release from the organization.

The planned park will have three skill development lines, a pump track, a children’s bicycle playground and pavilion. Chief Operating Officer Mike Gilbert said the park will be used as an educational space for riders to learn safe mountain biking skills on the course in a controlled environment, before taking to mountain biking trails. Its intended for all skill levels, including early-stage beginners on push bikes.

Jones Trust purchased the property, located adjacent to the southeast corner of The Jones Center parking lot and behind the EZ Mart at the corner of Emma Avenue and Old Missouri Road, for $250,000 in November 2016.

The planned park will be called The Runway, a reference to its close proximity to the Springdale Municipal Airport across Emma Avenue, according to the trust. A groundbreaking date has not yet been announced, as the project needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

However, Jones Center is aiming to open the park next fall, so it will be available for K-12 student field trips.

“With the growing interest in mountain biking and cycling in Northwest Arkansas, The Runway will become the premier place for families to learn the skills required to enjoy the beautiful trails in the NWA wilderness,” Jones Trust CEO Ed Clifford said in the release. “The venue will be world-class and become another addition to the recreation amenities already offered at The Jones Center.”

The Walton Family Foundation of Bentonville has given $1.1 million toward the project, according to the trust.

Gilbert estimated the Jones Trust will be required to make an additional investment of $170,000 for property management costs — including the installation of drains — and to pay for programming related to the park.

Prospective programming includes workshops, hands-on instruction and regional competitions. Gilbert said youth students could learn safety and first aid techniques within The Jones Center before taking on the biking course. Programming also could be built around related life skills, he said.

Jones Trust leadership will collaborate with Ozark Off-Road Cyclists and Crafton Tull of Fayetteville on design.

“We are excited to partner with Ozark Off Road Cyclists and Crafton Tull to guide and assist us with development of the Bike Skills Park. They are the mentors, trail builders and experts at building low maintenance skills parks,” Gilbert said in the release. “This partnership will allow our youth to develop the necessary skills to succeed in the beautiful NWA trails region.”