BRISTOL – The Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services Department has announced the addition of a pump park and gear shop to the mountain bike trail system in Rockwell Park, to be open by next spring.
The department recently received a $66,000 grant from the National Recreation and Park Association to fund the project.
A pump park is “a training area for young people and adults to learn and practice skills, prior to tackling our trail system,” said Joshua Medeiros, department superintendent.
“Pump parks are very unique and only a few exist in the State of Connecticut, so this project will put the city on the map with a unique recreational opportunity,” he said.
The grant will also go to establish the “All Heart Parks Gear Shop,” in the former Rockwell Park bathhouse by the pond,” he said. “We will be modernizing the concession area to create a space where young people can borrow recreational equipment to be used right here in the park, including bicycles, skateboards, fishing gear, basketballs, volleyballs and more.”
Medeiros said that the project is critical to support access to play for the neighborhood, and the city.
“It will help overcome financial barriers that prevent young people from using our trail system, the skate park, or our courts because they simply cannot afford the equipment,” said Medeiros.
For the third part of the project the department will develop a “community play report” in partnership with NRPA, to evaluate ways to close the equity gap for youth being able to access play and sports here in Bristol, he added.
Medeiros said he hopes to break ground this fall, with the pump park open by early spring and the gear shop by June.
Rockwell Park’s five mile mountain bike trail system was created in 2019 when a group of local bike enthusiasts formed Bike Bristol and approached the city’s parks board with the idea. Bike Bristol then came up with the idea of the new additions as phase two of the trail system.
Medeiros said the department worked with the group to develop a fundraising plan and a sponsorship package, and then the covid-19 pandemic hit.
“With businesses struggling due to covid restrictions, individuals being laid off from work, we knew that every dollar mattered and it would be an impossible task for ask people for donations at this time,” he said.
Instead, they were able to submit a grant application to NRPA’s new program to help parks and recreation professionals re-imagine play and youth sports in a covid-19 world. Bristol was one of 12 cities to receive funding, Medeiros said.
“We were awarded the maximum amount possible, to the tune of $66,000,” he said, noting that in partnership with NRPA the Walt Disney Co. provided $40,000 and Target Corp. provided $26,000.
This particular project will only cost an estimated $30,000 so the extra funds, and any additional funds raised in the community, will be used to buy more bikes and more equipment, he said.
Brian Archibald, of Bike Bristol, said the organization will have an online fundraising section on its Facebook page, with a link to the Main Street Community Foundation.
He described the pump park as a track with jumps and skills challenges to help bikers “progress to a higher level of riding.”
“We are super excited” about the pump track, he said. “I want to see people having fun and enjoying themselves here in Rockwell Park.”
Archibald said since the trail system opened just over a year ago, “we’ve averaged roughly five riders a day, which doesn’t seem like a lot but it might be one rider one day and then 12 another day. Recently there’s been a huge uptick in use, with large groups.”
“Our group couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve done and we’re super proud of what we’ve yet to do,” he added.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or email@example.com.