A mountain bike trail is planned for a public park at the northern end of Mooresville, and the town seeking grant money to help pay for what officials say would be the first recreational trail of its kind here.
The trail at Mazeppa Park would stretch about 6 miles, weaving through varying terrain and featuring a natural surface that would include wooden bridges. In addition to mountain bikers, the 4-foot-wide stretch would accommodate hikers.
Expected to eventually host mountain-bike races on weekends, it could become something of a tourist draw, said Daniel Stines, parks and recreation supervisor for the town’s Cultural and Recreation Services department. Beyond that, he cited “strong advocacy” from residents for creating trails for cycling and hiking.
The trail would cost about $125,000, most of which the town is seeking to fund with a federal matching grant it applied for about two weeks ago. It expects to hear by the end of this month whether it will receive the grant from the Recreational Trails Program, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Stines said.
The remainder, $25,000, would come from the Mooresville Convention & Visitors Bureau, which had a feasibility study conducted at the town-owned park earlier this summer.
The bureau, also known as the Mooresville Travel & Tourism Authority, is funded entirely by hotel occupancy taxes, promoting the town as an attractive place to visit. It has partnered with the town on a number of parks and recreation projects, most recently contributing more than $70,000 to build a substantial tennis court at Edgemoor Park, just outside downtown, as part of a renovation project there.
As for the planned trail, it might encourage mountain bikers visiting town “to stay an extra day,” said Leah Mitcham, the bureau’s executive director. She added that it could serve as an “attraction for out-of-town guests here on business or vacation.”
Opening in 2011, Mazeppa Park stretches over more than 160 acres, including ballfields, a playground and a walking track. It was initially designed to include a mountain bike trail, though not as long as the one currently planned there, Stines noted.
Should the town receive the grant to pay for the trail, it expects to start work in the spring and open it in January 2017.
For its part, Mooresville is seeking to address a “significant” need for hiking and mountain bike trails, said Stines, the parks and recreation supervisor. He added that they are among a number of a focal points of a parks and recreation master plan the town has spent the past several months putting together and that has involved its share of public comment. The town could make the plan public as soon as later this month.
“We started realizing there was a very strong interest,” he said, referring to not only biking and hiking trails but also greenways.
Recreational activities have a significant impact on Mooresville’s economy, serving as a source of revenue for local businesses, and the town is increasingly focused on expanding its recreational offerings, Stines said.
Amid expectations of population growth, planning such improvements is especially important. “I think that time is now,” Stines said.
Jake Flannick is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org