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Fortuna Bike Park gives kids safe alternative

FORTUNA- A Fortuna project meant to keeps kids out of trouble is nearing its final touches almost five years later.

“In seventh grade we were just in history class and we talked about, there's just not a lot of things to do here in Fortuna and we were like, lots of people ride their bikes lots of people get in trouble on the property, a lot of people make their own, why not try to make something for the kids so they won't get in trouble anymore,” said Rachel Dias, Fortuna Bike Park founder.

Today, Fortuna’s Newburg Park has its very own bike section for kids of all ages. The bike park has been in progress since 2009. Most of its founders are now seniors in high school. Over the past years the students have been writing letters, appearing before the city council, applying for permits and collecting donations. The group even began their own non-profit to see the park through.

“It's amazing. It's awesome to see an idea can turn into a reality. I mean, there were times that we thought it would just never happen,” said Cody Hurst, another park founder. “I mean you look at it now and it's just awesome that it's here.”

The group of five students met many challenges along the way, including resistance from city staff and residents neighboring the park. But after a change in city hall staff and continued persistence from the students, the park saw it’s first dirt deposit in 2012.

The project was funded solely through donations, totaling $15,000. The dirt and contractor work was donated from local sources. According to the founders, the park is still a work in progress. The group needs to install a sidewalk and netting around the area before turning it over to the city.

Although many in the group do not ride bicycles recreationally anymore, they say they are glad to see neighborhood children enjoying the park.

“It makes me happy. I like to see people still doing what I used to do,” said Tyler Elias, another park founder. “I like it.”

After five years of hard work in seeing the park to completion, city council members say the project is a great example of how students can work with city hall to make things happen.