The new mountain bike skills park in Twin Falls is another example of the power of partnerships.
The City of Twin Falls officially celebrated the opening of the mountain bike skills park in June with a brief ceremony that explained how this picturesque project came to fruition. It’s a story of several partners collaborating to build a healthier community.
The city applied for a Community Transformation Grant from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health in late 2018 and was awarded a grant in June 2019 to help increase children’s access to physical activity and healthy foods.
“The process was really about selling ourselves as a community and the strong, existing partnerships that we have that would make these funds well spent,” said Mandi Thompson, the city administrator.
Community Transformation Grants are unique. These multiyear grants offer more benefits than just funds, including technical assistance, support, and providing information to help the city and its partners learn about the assets and opportunities within the community.
This learning takes place during the first year of the grant. Cities assemble a team of residents from a variety of organizations and sectors in the community to serve as the decision makers for how the $250,000 in funding is allocated. In Twin Falls, the team includes city staff, chamber of commerce, school district and college personnel, nonprofits, local business owners and employees, hospital system personnel, local elected officials, and others.
The members of this team connected with MaVTEC (Magic Valley Trail Enhancement Committee), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and learned of an opportunity to help create a mountain bike skills park that would help youth hone skills to participate in a lifelong sport. There also was a private donor interested in contributing to the skills park.
The three entities — the city, MaVTEC and the private donor — pooled funds to create the park. Without each other, the park likely would not have happened.
Jeremy St. Clair coaches a mountain bike team made up of area middle- and high-school students. He said about 65 youth are involved with the team.
“This skills park and pump track helps kids learn to roll through different things when they ride,” said St. Clair, who is a member of the Dirt Trails Alliance, a sub-committee of MaVTEC whose mission is to provide dirt trail access to all user groups.
The park was built by Sun Valley-based Titus Trails, and the city will maintain it as part of the donation it received from the partnership with MaVTEC.
“Auger Falls is a city park and there are more than 600 miles of trails down in the bottom of the canyon,” Thompson said. “This amenity has been with the city for quite some time, and I think it’s a hidden gem. Most of the people who walked down here today were like ‘we didn’t even know where this was.’”
Thanks to partnerships, kids in the Magic Valley have another place to be active, learn skills and have fun.