BELLINGHAM - The latest upgrade of the Civic Field Dirt Jump Park is almost complete.
In an effort to address drainage problems, accommodate beginners, and keep up with riders' demands for new tricks, volunteers are giving the dirt-jump park its second major makeover since opening in 2004.
"That's the beautiful thing about dirt. You can do something completely new with it," said Mike Storm, the park's coordinator and co-designer, with Andy Grant. A third volunteer, Spencer Baldwin, is operating the construction equipment.
The park is financed and maintained by the WHIMPs Mountain Bike Coalition, which is also called WMBC. The group is accepting donations for the project on its website.
The $4,000 cost for the rebuild could have been higher, Storm said. The labor is all volunteer, and Oceanside Construction and United Rentals donated earth-moving equipment.
Storm and Grant are starting from scratch to create a new park. Storm emphasized that one side of the park will be dedicated to beginners. He expects families with young children to use the park once it's finished later this month.
"We want to really provide a great place to learn ... and a fun place to ride for people who have been doing this for a lot of years," Storm said.
The park is a WHIMPS production, but the dirt-jump courses on Puget Street across from the Civic Field parking lot make up an official city park, similar to the skateboard park.
The city helped pay for the 2008 dirt-jump rebuild, but is only blessing the latest project with permits and approval of the insurance that covers the heavy-equipment work. Incidentally, the insurance alone cost $2,000, Storm said - half the construction cost.
Bellingham parks officials like the plan, Parks Operations Manager Marvin Harris said, because it caters to all ages, just as the neighboring skate park has smaller features for younger children.
Storm said he's more comfortable navigating dirt jumps than City Hall, but has learned a lot over the past months about regulations on stormwater and erosion control. He had hoped to begin construction in March; it didn't start in earnest until late June. In the winter, more fundraising was needed, and not all permits were ready.
"We've been working for eight months getting this approved," Storm said. "There's been a lot of hoops to jump through."
The more literal, more fun jumping can start after major work on the rebuild is completed on Sunday, July 15. Despite some rainy construction days, the project is ahead of schedule.
"The park will be open the 16th," Storm said.
Volunteers will spend some weeks after that firming up the course and making small improvements. A grand opening will be announced later on the WHIMPS website.
HOW TO HELP
Volunteer to help rebuild the Civic Field Dirt Jump Park through Mike Storm's blog, manualmike.blogspot.com.
Donate at the WHIMPS Mountain Bike Coalition website, whimpsmtb.org.
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2261.