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Big Marsh Bike Park Gets $3.5 Million Green Light From Parks Board

By Joe Ward | May 11, 2016 6:59pm | Updated on May 13, 2016 11:29am
 Big Marsh Bike Park
Big Marsh Bike Park
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LINCOLN PARK — The Southeast Side will be home to the city's only bike park dedicated to off-road and BMX-style biking, after the Parks District Board on Wednesday voted to give $3.5 million to the construction of the park.

Chicago contractor Frielder Construction will build the 40-acre bike park at what will be called Big Marsh Park, a massive Parks District project to turn marsh lands near an industrial site into a 280-acre park and native lands preservation in South Deering.

The bike park will cater to off-road biking, and will have features that will recreate mountain-like conditions, parks officials said. The park will also have bike jumps and a slalom course, among many other features, said Heather Gleason, president of the Chicago Parks District Planning and Construction division.

"We'll have a lot of different features for bikers of all skill level," Gleason told the park's board. "We're embracing this is a regional attraction that will hopefully attract bike riders [from all over]."

The contractor will also construct a bike trail as part of the contract, Gleason said. A bike park plaza will also be constructed, and box cars will be used as a nod to the area's history of industrial use.

The Parks Board has been approving funding for the park on a rolling basis. Construction on the site was slated to begin in 2015 but was put off as funding from the state dried up. Gleason said the site is being prepped, as the city has already conducted a controlled burn to make way for new native plantings and park grounds.

The board did not say when the bike park might be completed or opened to the public.

As a native of the Southeast Side, Board President Jesse Ruiz said the bike park and Big Marsh in general will mean a lot to that area of the city.

"It'll be an incredible park," he said. "I'm excited to have some fun things to do when I visit my mom."

An advocacy group, Friends of Big Marsh, has said it will dedicate $2.7 million to the $30 million project. Randy Newfield, a member of the advocacy group, said the facilities will transform the biking scene on the city, and particularly on the South Side.

"For people who are interested in mountain biking, there's isn't much going on," Newfield said. "The idea of building some hills and a [bike] park for the area ia really interesting."

Other than a bike park and bike trails, Big Marsh Park will include over 200 acres of native plantings, and will allow for canoeing, fishing, zip-lining and other outdoor activities.

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