With kids in Patten shuttered indoors throughout the spring and summer due to COVID-19 restrictions, Patten Academy Park has created an attraction that might help bring them back outdoors.
PATTEN, Maine — With kids in Patten shuttered indoors throughout the spring and summer due to COVID-19 restrictions, Patten Academy Park has created an attraction that might help bring them back outdoors.
The park’s new pump track, a circuit track meant to simulate a mountain biking trail, was constructed at the site in just two days, which means kids and adults can now practice their mountain biking skills within the comfort of their local park.
The park was created in collaboration with several groups, including The Bicycle Coalition of Maine and the Northern Katahdin Trails Group. The project was completed in a weekend, with marking and layout of the course on Friday, Oct. 17, followed by removal of turf and putting in gravel foundation Saturday.
Susan Adams, a member of town’s planning board who was heavily involved in the project, said that though the park has yet to be fully completed, kids are already beginning to show up at the park.
“If you build it, they will come,” Adams said. “It’s to get them outdoors and active, and cuts down on screen time. And they did, and then they keep coming here.”
Though the track itself is complete, a few finishing touches are yet to be added, such as proper signage, benches and trash cans. The track is not allowed to be modified in any way, and will be closed if it rains or if any maintenance is required.
Members of the town’s board of selectmen, Greg Smallwood and Marty McCarthy, helped donate gravel and the skilled labor necessary to create the pump track.
Several students from Katahdin Middle/High School also helped to rake, shovel and run the compactor during building. McCarthy had put a signup sheet at the school for potential volunteers, with students showing up on the assigned day and bringing several friends along with them.
“They have an investment in it themselves,” McCarthy said. “I haven’t been able to go back for inspection yet because there’s always somebody using it.”
Adams said she hopes the project will help encourage kids to get outside more, and hopefully lead to other outdoor bike trails in the area.
“This is hopefully a catalyst project that will get more people on board and more residents aware of how important non-motorized trails can be,” she said. “So we have more projects waiting in the wings.”