There are no nearby mountain bike opportunities.
Riverbend Nature Park, the site of past arrests for lewd behavior by men, still retains an unsavory image. Could this scenic area across Airport Road from the airport become busy with family activities?
A group of residents say it could happen if they achieve their goal. On Feb. 13, three avid mountain bikers presented an idea to the Leisure Services Advisory Board, offering to build mountain biking trails with volunteer labor.
“Perhaps if there’s a lot of usage by enthusiastic, outdoorsy people, it would deter any illegal activities,” said mountain biker Tim Cone.
After a presentation and questions, the board, which makes recommendations to the City Commission, voted unanimously to support the project.
A GROWING SPORT
The bike riders told the board members that currently they must travel to enjoy their sport. They drive to Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve, Graham Swamp Conservation Area in Palm Coast or to Chuck Lennon Park in DeLeon Springs.
Manis said the bike riding would not hurt the natural environment of the park and would not interfere with the current walking trails.
“Perhaps if there’s a lot of usage by enthusiastic, outdoorsy people, it would deter any illegal activities”
TIM CONE, mountain bike rider
There currently is parking at the park and a bathroom, which the men called a big advantage. If the mountain bike trails become popular, the parking area might need to be enlarged.
Doug Thomas, of the board, asked how motorized dirt bikes would be kept off the trails, and Manis said it would be self-policing, because dirt bikes would destroy the trails for mountain bikes.
“The mountain bikers would run them out,” Manis said.
Robert Carolin, the city liaison for the board, said if the city allows the project, then signage would be placed.
In response to other questions from the board, the men said no trees would be taken down for the trails, and it would be maintained by the users. They said the area is hilly and would provide a good mountain biking experience, comparing favorably with other bike trails but shorter.
They said the safety of sport is attractive, since there are no cars.
“I never ride the Loop anymore,” agreed board member Ann Marie Zweifel. “It’s too dangerous.”
There is one area of the planned trail that may need a bridge because it traverses a narrow area between Airport Road and the wetlands area. The biker riders said they would build the bridge, but would ask the city to pay for lumber.
Thomas said he was extremely supportive of the project but the wetlands area must be determined. Shannon Julien, a board member who works in environmental services, said she would inspect the area to determine if the project is feasible near the wetlands and if state permits would be needed.
After the meeting, Cone said they forgot to mention that there are a couple of homeless camps in the woods, and this would another reason for increasing the activity there.
“It would be nice to see family activities instead of what goes on there,” said bike rider Mike Manis.
A board member agreed, saying it could “change the complexion of the park.”
On June 3, 2017, eight men were arrested for lewd activity at the park in a county-wide sting run by Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. The defendants were charged with indecent exposure and related activities.
On a recent day, an empty police car was in the parking lot. A sign with large, red letters said, “Park under 24 hours police surveillance.” A group of workers who had stopped for lunch said they stop a couple of times a week and the park is usually empty.
Jesse Godfrey, Ormond Beach Police chief, said there were no complaints or arrests at the park in 2018 and officers make daily checks. He said the idea of the park being utilized by mountain bikers is a great idea because there are no other nearby opportunities.
“I think it will be a success,” he said.
The park features a fishing/viewing dock, canoe launch, observation deck, health trail and children’s playground.