Officials say county-owned parcel is large enough for trail system, existing shooting range and Highway Department storage area
Ozaukee County officials think they have found a new site for a mountain bike park, provided they can find a way to accommodate a shooting range and public park on the same parcel.
After the plan for a bike park on county-owned land in the Town of Port Washington was rejected because of local opposition, Planning and Parks Department officials looked closely at other publicly owned land in the county and found what may be either a diamond in the rough or another tough sell.
The relatively obscure 39-acre parcel in the Town of Fredonia just northeast of Riveredge Nature Center is largely unused and undeveloped, has hilly terrain ideally suited to mountain biking and is owned by the county.
In fact, the property, known as the Pinnacle Site, is identified as a future park in the county Park and Open Space Plan. That plan, however, envisions a park on the property only after current operations on the land cease, and therein lies the hitch.
About eight acres in the northeast corner of the parcel are currently used by the sheriff’s department as a shooting range and the Public Works Department for equipment storage.
“We definitely want to make sure those current uses are protected under our plan,” Planning and Parks Department Director Andrew Struck said. “We’re confident we can delineate an area on the property for a mountain bike park that won’t interfere with current uses.”
The first step in the process is pitching the park plan to other county departments, starting with the Public Works Committee on Thursday and later the Public Safety Committee.
Provided those committees don’t oppose the plan, the next step is figuring out how to situate a park on the property.
Struck said it can be done.
The parcel, he noted, is sufficiently large. Even after eliminating the eight acres that are currently being used, about 31 acres remain. The park is envisioned to be a minimum of 25 acres.
The shooting range is already isolated by natural land contours and can be further divided from the rest of the property by fences and berms to address safety concerns, Struck said.
“I think this parcel offers a really good opportunity for a mountain bike park,” he said. “I think we can make it work.”
One of the biggest selling points is that the parcel is one of the only publicly owned parcels in the county that would lend itself to a mountain bike park, Struck said.
“Once you get into the situation of having to acquire property for a park, you get into a whole other realm of cost,” he said.
In addition, the Pinnacle Site doesn’t have the problems that doomed the proposed park in the Town of Port Washington, Struck said. Residents and officials there said they opposed the rural Port location because it was accessible only via the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, and thus would be difficult for sheriff’s deputies to patrol.
The Town of Fredonia land, however, is accessible via Highway Y, which bisects the parcel, and has a topography that is well-suited to its planned use, Struck said.
“The natural topography of the land is really as hilly as you get in Ozaukee County, which is good for trails, but there is a flat spot that is ideal for parking,” he said.
The county has qualified for a $30,000 state grant to develop the park. The County Board, however, has delayed acceptance of the grant until a suitable site can be found.
“We think we’ve found our site in this parcel,” Struck said. “It would really lend itself to a bike park.”