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Peekskill Plans Pump Track with Tourism in Mind

The City of Peekskill working to bring a pump track to its parkland.

While attending the Mountain Bike Festival in 2011, Peekskill Councilman Andrew Torres took the opportunity to meet with avid bicylists and ask them how to make Peekskill an even more attractive biking destination. He then lead discussions with the Westchester Mountain Biking Association, who offered to help the City of Peekskill build a pump track in the area.

A pump track is a continuous dirt loop of rollers and in-sloped turns on which bikers of all levels and ages can ride. Advanced cyclists do not even have to peddle on the trails, but use their upper and lower body strength to pump their bike throughout the course. Thus, the track is appropriately named.

"I would like the pump track to go through," Torres said. "It would give families something to do during hard economic times." Torres also emphasized the importance of providing fun family activities to help curb childhood obesity and promote physical fitness.

The council agreed that because Blue Mountain is already a well known and popular biking destination, a pump track would attract even more visitors to the area. They talked about leading marketing efforts that would promote the track and "spending a day in Peekskill," by eating lunch and shopping downtown.

Bicyclists will travel 50 to 100 miles to ride a pump track, City Planner Jean Friedman explained to the city council at its Feb. 14 work session. Friedman pointed out the track can be used by all skill levels, including children, is a good work out and presents a family-friendly and positive fitness activity.

She also explained that a number of local volunteers from the WMBA, who are anxious to have a track in the city, are eager to provide free labor and work on the project. The city would most likely need to budget about $5,000 from the Gap Fund and would receive about $5,000 worth of volunteer labor and would apply for a $10,000 grant for the project.

The track would be about 40 by 60 or 50 by 80 feet and the city is hoping to build it somewhere in Depew or Blue Mountain.

The next closest pump tracks in the area are in Inwood, Queens and New Jersey.

The council member were very supportive of the track. (Mayor Mary Foster and Councilman Don Bennet, and Councilman Andrew Torres were absent that night, but expressed support for the project at the next Council meeting on Feb. 22. Torres was absent due to a death in his immediate family.)

The council directed city staff to move forward with applying for the grant and other aspects of the project.

*Editor's Note: This article has been expanded to include more accurate information on how the idea of a pump track was brought to the City council (which was through Councilman Andrew Torres). The article has also been adjusted to clarify that all councilmembers and the mayor is supportive of the project.

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Lenny February 22, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Peekskillman I don't know where you get this information from. The new firehouse doesn't have everything your stating in it, as a member of the committee I know this. As far as your statement about the chiefs and there perks I am the Chief of the fire department, im a city resident who has house and business here in this city in which I pay taxes on. I don't understand how you can make the statement that I commute out of the city to work. Why don't you try and volunteer and spend time in my shoes getting up all hours of the night to protect the residence of this city. Why not try and contact me instead of hiding cowardly behind a computer screen if you have questions. I can be reached on Monday nights from 7-9 at the firehouse on Washington St. Lenny Varella Jr. Chief Peekskill Fire Department
Peter Goodson February 22, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Liz - if you are correct than how could the city possibly be contemplating borrowing over $20 million for a new firehouse? This is just simply reckless and uncalled for. I don't see how a judge will allow the city to destroy homes, businesses and the entire business district of the city for an unneeded firehouse! Is it legal to take money from the water fund like that? I know the tax rate is above the tax cap at 3.5% so how do they continually get away with all of this? Why aren't the people of Peekskill outraged over this administration? Are there any legal agencies that can come and review what is going on?
Scott Sailor February 24, 2012 at 03:20 PM
The proposed pump track and beginner level trails in Depew Park is a great idea for a number of reasons. One, it's dirt cheap. Two, it's unique to the area. No others exist anywhere near here. Doing things that are unique and interesting is how small towns and citys can distinguish themselves. Third, it piggybacks on the success of Blue Mtn's reknown as a mtn bike destination not only by offering an alternate way to access those trails but by offering something for beginner level riders and families who are intimidated by the harder terrain of blue mtn. As a business owner downtown (bruised apple) who understands how being unique helps survival in a crowded and homogenized society I see this project as an atypically progressive venture for a city not normally that creative. Plus, I think it will be great fun for a lot of local kids and families. Seems like a very low risk and potentially high reward project.
Scott Sailor February 24, 2012 at 03:34 PM
And as far as attracting business is concerned, it likely will do that. People do get hungry and thirsty after biking, and we've got lots of good food and drink downtown. A simple kiosk at the parking lot/trailhead with a map and description of nearby downtown will work well. I've spent lots of money in other communities like this for similar reasons (biking and hiking trails, as well as whitewater kayaking parks). If you've ever been to a town that has cool outdoorsy stuff to do nearby you know what I'm talking about. It trickles over to the proximal retail shops too. I simply can't understand why so many folks are hating on this, unless they just need to vent some anger over other issues and have lost some objectivity.
dleighg February 24, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Scott I agree, this sounds like a good idea, certainly worth looking into. Somehow people get their priorities screwed up to the point that it's as if a city can do only ONE thing at a time, and because there are other things that need to be fixed, one can't do some other thing. This doesn't sound like a big outlay of money, and could do some good for the area.

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