Many of you may have heard that the facility will not be built in Wallace Marine Park. Environmental assessments of the area found that our good friend, the Western Pond Turtle, has nesting sites in and around Wallace Marine Park. The Western Pond Turtle is a “species of concern” in the region. While mitigation measures are possible, it seemed more prudent to give this creature its needed breeding space and begin exploring other locations for the facility.
|Gov. T.T. Geer|
SATA’s Bike Park and Trail Facility committee has been working with the City of Salem over the past 8 months to find just the right place to locate this amazing community-focused project. We have explored many possible parks in Salem over the past several months - the committee conducted assessments of each, trying to find that right balance between access and topography – and we found it! We are excited to announce that the facility will likely be built at Geer Community Park. SATA received unanimous support from the Northeast Salem Community Association just last week. Geer Community Park has much to offer and the topography and soil type are a great fit for this project. We’ve already started developing some rough concept plans for the pumptracks, halfpipe feature and trails:
|Concept sketch for pump track and bike park at Geer Park|
Wait, there's an important dead white guy involved!
Governor Theodore Thurston Geer (1899 - 1903) frequently biked to the Capitol from his farm on State Street above Macleay and from his part-time residence on State Street inside Salem. Getting a bike was headline news.
In 1900 as one of the first acts of the nascent Oregon Historical Society he visited Champoeg to locate the site of the 1843 meetings on wolves that led to the first Provisional Government, and to meet with F.X. Matthieu, believed to to have been the only remaining survivor of those meetings.
He biked there. In his 1911 memoir, Fifty Years in Oregon, Geer wrote about this ride:
I shall never forget that beautiful ride from Salem to Champoeg. It was a perfect day, with a firm north breeze, not a cloud in the sky; the roads were in good condition, the crops were growing splendidly, birds were singing everywhere, seemingly to be in harmony with Nature’s glad mood – it was, in short, just that sort of day which is known in all its wealth of joy, beauty, and inspiration only in the Willamette valley in the spring and summer months.
|Governor Geer at Champoeg in 1900|
With links to all that, having a bike park at Geer Park is one of the best things that could possibly happen!
|Geer Line - Salem (1917) and Stayton (1925) USGS maps|
Geer Park is at right-hand number 25 in center
I-5 follows the survey line exactly here!
Unfortunately ownership of the Geer Line has become increasingly fragmented, and seems unlikely this could become a rails-to-trails project.
But because of the massive north-south barrier I-5 represents, and the unpleasantness of the existing east-west connections along very busy arterial roads, we should keep in the back of our minds the opportunity a trail conversion still represents for key connectivity.
(A Willamette student did a thesis on the rail-to-trail concept in 1999, when ownership was less fragmented, and not executing on the trail conversion has to count as one of the City of Salem's biggest missed opportunities. Perhaps the prospect and then actuality of a bike park here will renew interest in a full or partial trail project.)
So there you go. The proposed bike park here will be at a nexus of some important transportation and bicycling history. (There's lots more, of course. His uncle's farm on which he spent lots of time still operates as Geercrest Farm, and uncle Ralph is part of Homer Davenport's story as well as an important orchardist. Concentric rings of history radiate out from just about any point here.)
This will be great to see.