Residents wear matching shirts in advocacy for the proposed off-road vehicle riding park at 35 Mile, which was up for permit consideration and later approved at a January evening Planning Commission meeting. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Residents wear matching shirts in advocacy for the proposed off-road vehicle riding park at 35 Mile, which was up for permit consideration and later approved at a January evening Planning Commission meeting. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Construction of new off-road vehicle riding park to begin later this summer

Officials hope to see the first mile loop of the park complete within the year.

Construction of the first official off-road vehicle riding park in Juneau is set to break ground starting later this summer, City and Borough of Juneau officials say.

On Monday the Assembly Lands Housing and Economic Development committee unanimously OK’d a resolution for the city manager to enter into an agreement with the Juneau Off-Road Vehicle Association for the management and maintenance tasks of the future park, which in January was approved for a conditional use permit by the city’s Planning Commission.

[City OK’s permit for new off-road vehicle riding park]

The park’s site is located at 35 Mile, a former logging area in the 1950s-1960s, and is on Glacier Highway just beyond Sunshine Cove. Residents and rider groups in Juneau have been advocating for the construction of an off-road vehicle riding park for decades and, before its approval in January, the project received nearly 300 public comments in favor of its passing.

Michelle Elfers, deputy director of CBJ Parks and Recreation Department, told the committee Monday night construction is slated to begin later this summer, pending a wetland permit approval by the Army Corps of Engineers, which is expected to be granted sometime in July or August.

The first phase of the project’s development, which likely will take “a few years to build,” will consist of five miles of trails through approximately 175 acres of CBJ-owned land, and will be open to ATVs, Jeeps and dirtbikes during daylight hours during spring, summer and fall seasons.

The location will also include a gated entrance, parking area, picnic area and a caretaker RV among other amenities.

Elfers said the initial construction this summer will tackle the construction of the first-mile riding loop with hopes of completion within the year, along with constructing the parking lot, mud pit and cross-country area.

Elfers said as the park begins to grow its operations in the coming years, it will be managed and maintained by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department with assistance from JORA for specific maintenance and stewardship tasks like opening and closing the park’s gate, stocking the restroom and litter clean up.

The city will pay an annual cost of $23,000 a year out of the Parks and Recreation Department’s budget to support the park. The city has identified around $990,000 in various funding sources to cover the initial construction of phase one. Future funding will likely be needed beyond that, and Elfers said other potential funding sources such as partnerships with community organizations for donations, recreation and trail grant applications, and future bond requests are being fielded.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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