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Park project: Queenstown Mountain Bike Club committee members Pete McInally, left, and Emmerson Wilken at the future jump park's entrance off Kerry Drive

By GUY WILLIAMS

The Queenstown Mountain Bike Club’s world-renowned Gorge Road jump park will be  replaced by a new park on Queenstown Hill.

Queenstown’s council has cleared the red tape on the long-running project, approving an ‘outline plan of works’ for the park to be built on a three-hectare slice of recreation reserve at the end of Kerry Drive.

Club president Chris Conway says it’s preparing a design and build contract that’ll go out to
tender in the next few months, and even hopes it could be open by next summer.

The new park will have a jump area for beginner to advanced riders, a pump track and  other trails, while the council will build a carpark and toilets on the site for use by riders and walking track users.

A trail linking the park to the town centre via Duncan Place and Hallenstein Street has been proposed, with the aim of enabling park users to ride there rather than using their cars.

Conway says since learning Gorge Road’s days were numbered in early 2018, the club looked at several alternative sites suggested by the council — including at Lake Hayes and Frankton — but the Queenstown Hill site became its favoured option about two years ago.

While no site is perfect, and wind will be one challenge on the west-facing hillside, club  members are ‘‘pretty confident we can make something really cool’’.

The area’s overgrown with broom and other weeds, wilding Douglas firs and other trees such as sycamore and rowan.

The plan is to keep as many of the trees as possible for wind screening except for the  Douglas firs, and plant lots of natives.

‘‘We want to turn something that’s infested with weeds into a community asset.’’

Conway says the Gorge Rd jump park has been an ‘‘absolutely incredible asset’’.

‘‘It’s probably the best park of its kind in the world — it’s a real shame to see it go.’’

But the club’s licence to use the area expires in June, and the council has plans to convert  it into a parking area.

The club’s grateful for the way the council’s worked with them, he says.

‘‘This is another example of them helping to facilitate the community to do some really cool
stuff, and they deserve some credit for that.’’

The new park will be owned by the council, with the club operating it through a reserve licence with an initial term of 10 years and a second 10-year term by agreement.

With the tender to come, Conway can’t talk about how much it’s going to cost.

‘‘Money’s definitely tight to make it happen, but we’ve done some planning for it.

‘‘Fingers crossed we can get it open for next summer.’’

guy.williams@scene.co.nz