Mountain bike riding at Luton Park is a pilot program for the wMMBA and Kent County Parks Department. After many years of submitting plans and ideas to Kent Co, the wMMBA was finally given permission to develop trails on the undeveloped land known as Luton Park.
Luton Park had a two-track trail approximately 1.5 miles long (the Blue Loop) and a small parking area near a barn on Kies Ave that was used by local friends, family and neighbors for many years prior to our arrival. One of the stipulations with the Parks Department was that the wMMBA would encourage and recommend to the riders that use the park that they not park at the barn on Kies Ave due to the fact it is too small for the amount of traffic impact we would place there. It would remain a “foot traffic only” parking area. This would also keep peace somewhat with the neighbors that are not pleased with the new activity at Luton Park.
Future plans do call for a parking lot to be built off Ten Mile Road. The current economic situation and major budget cuts have had a serious impact on the county and a parking lot could be years away.
Mountain bikers and cyclist in general have a poor reputation among many people. As with any pilot program, the actions of a few bad seeds can ruin it for all of us. The wMMBA has assured the county that we are a responsible user group and should be given a fair shot.
In the first season and a half of mountain biking at Luton Park it has been observed that many riders have disappointed the wMMBA, the County and the Luton neighbors. Many complaints have been made to the county via telephone, letter, or email including:
· Ignoring posted “No Parking Signs” on 10 Mile Road
· Ignoring requests to not park at the barn
· Ignoring posted “No Night Riding” signs
· Urinating in public
· Drinking alcohol on park property
· Littering energy wrappers and bike water bottles
· Fast riders being rude to hikers or slower bike riders
· Trespassing on park property before dawn or after dusk
· Illegally parking on a county roadway shoulder
Our actions at Luton Park will have a direct affect on the wMMBA’s progress with gaining access to other parkland in West Michigan currently be discussed including the City of Grand Rapids, City of Wyoming, City of Kentwood, Allegan County, Ottawa County and Newaygo County.
The wMMBA and its volunteers have over 1800 hours of labor and thousands of dollars invested in this multi-use trail system. It is currently recommended that riders park at D&W Plaza just 1-mile away and ride the wide road shoulder to and from the trailhead.
I would highly recommend those cyclists and hikers that are pleased that the county has opened this land to us that they write a letter or email thanking them for this great opportunity. Send letters to: Kent County Parks 1700 Butterworth SW Grand Rapids, MI 49534-7065, The Grand Rapids Press, or emails to: Roger Sabine at Roger.Sabine@kentcountymi.gov
Please spread the word and help us clean up our act. The future of mountain biking is in your hands.
Luton Park Trail Coordinator