Grant ramps up new Niles BMX park

Published 6:02 pm Friday, March 30, 2012

The students of the youth advisory board for the City of Niles Parks Department are quickly discovering what keeps most government projects from getting off the ground — money, or lack thereof.

Jordan Harper, a senior at Brandywine High School, said he and the four other high school students on the committee have been working for more than a year on plans for a BMX bike park in Niles.

But because they had no funding, the project seemed dead in the water.

The group got good news this month, though, when the city agreed to allocate $5,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money to the project.

“When we found out about the grant, we were bursting at the seams in excitement,” Harper said.

So are BMX bikers throughout the area.

“There are definitely good vibes,” Harper said about response to the project. “A lot of kids want to ride in a different setting than just the trail by the river. And they can’t bike at the skate park.”

Some bikers have been ticketed by police for riding in the skate park, and the city is hoping the bike park will put an end to that.

Harper said the committee expects the bike park to open by June. It will be located on North 13th Street in the empty lot adjacent to the old Suds Yer Duds Laundromat.

A member of the city parks committee came up with the preliminary drawing of the park and the students gave input and made changes, Harper said.

The contractor handling the Lakeland Hospital expansion is donating the dirt for the project and transporting it to the site free of charge.

“With this $5,000, the next step is buying the clay to put over the dirt and cosmetic stuff like picnic tables and signs,” Harper said.

The youth advisory committee is accepting public comment on the project. They want to know “what this park should look like and what sorts of jumps, obstacles or other things that bikers want for the park,” Harper said.

Those with ideas for or questions about the bike park can contact the youth advisory board at

Members of the youth advisory board include Angelika Anderson, Brandywine High School; Tia Germann, Niles High School; Jordan Harper, Brandywine; Shawn Andersen, Niles; and Allison Zackarski, Brandywine.