Barret Park Bike Skills Area Approved (with minor conditions)

We have some great news to share with you. Last night the County Planning Commission held a meeting on Parks and Rec’s proposal for a 30-acre park on Barrett Drive. We’re all for parks, and we supported the general proposal, but our hearts were set on a biking area consisting of a pump track, a skills area, and dirt jump lines. The county planning staff had recommended against the bike park, so we had an uphill battle.

It wasn’t just the bike park that was controversial; The whole Barrett Park proposal was a tough sell. The land is zoned Exclusive Farm Use, and further, it’s designated as high-value farmland. To get a park, Parks and Rec needed to get a conditional use permit. To get a conditional use permit, they had to convince the planning commission that the park components would be “passive and low intensity”, a term not clearly defined in the law. We’ll save you the boring details and give you the quick summary: to the best of everyone’s understanding, “passive and low intensity” means that the land can easily be returned to farming, and also, that proposed land uses will not conflict with farming on neighboring parcels.

After two hours of testimony, the meeting was closed. The voting began. The question at hand: Is the proposed park a significant impact on farming. Votes: No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Next: “Should the CUP be approved, with conditions?” Yes. No. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Then more deliberations. On to the mountain bike park, condition 5. Should the mountain bike park be approved with the condition that it’s done in such a way to minimize impact to farming practices and future use of the land for farming? We held our breath. All our hard work came down to this. The vote: Yes! The mountain bike skills park on Barrett Drive is a go!

So, what’s next? According to Scott Baker at Parks and Rec, the planning staff will rewrite the conditions and modifications. In two weeks, the planning commission will sign it. If nobody appeals the decision within 15 days, then the conditional use permit is approved. Construction can begin in the fall.

This park gives everyone who rides the skill area at Family Man a second option, one which doesn’t involve a long drive up Riorden Hill or a long grind on a bike. It puts pump tracks and dirt jumps and skills features in a bike-accessible area. This park gives our community and our kids a great new play spot. Stay tuned for more news!

Thank you for all you do for mountain biking in the Gorge!

Hood River Area Trail Stewards

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