Bennington Area Trail System seeking donations for pump track

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BENNINGTON — The Bennington Area Trail System is seeking donations of materials to help supplement the building of a pump track, a short riding track meant to help mountain bikers learn the techniques used in trail biking, at the Stark Street Playground.

Currently, BATS is looking for donations of fill dirt for the track — ideally composed of 50 to 70 percent clay with the remainder being filtered silt. Silvia Cassano, BATS communications coordinator, says the group is seeking 150 yards of fill dirt. The group is willing to consider other fill dirt options and are open to discussing logistics and benefactor options with donors.

For the spring, BATS is looking for donated native plants and shrubs. Cassano mentioned that other pump tracks in the state were made possible by donations of materials.

Last October, BATS received a $1,620 trail grant award from the Vermont Mountain Bike Association for the purpose of building the track, which covers the cost of design fees and build-out fees and must be used by this October. A pump track consists of smooth dirt "rollers" and "berms" that allow bikers to use a pumping motion to create and maintain inertia around the track without pedaling.

The Bennington Select Board approved the plan for the track this July and since then, BATS has been working to receive donations. This project is entirely funded by the grant, fundraising, and donations. Founded in 2015 by a group of local bikers, runners, and hikers that advocate for multi-use singletrack trails for the enjoyment of area residents and visitors, BATS is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization.

Even though BATS members sincerely hope for the track to be done this year, the official opening day and ribbon cutting will be held in the spring.

"Right now, the focus is trying to get the project working," Cassano said. "We really look forward to this project as a way for people to discover areas that are walk-able and available for them."

In addition to material donations, BATS is selling $5 raffle tickets for the chance to win a mountain, gravel, or fat bike valued at $1,500 from Highlander Bicycle. These tickets can be purchased at Highlander Bicycle or at batsvt.org/news/2018raffle.

Track location and design

A design of the track has been sketched by Vermont-based professional trail design consultant Tom Lepesqueur, of Lepesqueur & Daughters, LLC. Cassano says this design is rather tentative since Lepesqueur prefers to work with the terrain and materials as he goes.

The track will be built within a half-mile from downtown at the end of Stark Street Playground near Dewey Street where a pump track demo was held earlier this summer.

"We're taking into mind the lay of the land," said Cassano as she explained that the track will be an "L" shaped circuit. Approximate dimensions for the L-shape would be 90' x 45 ' on the longest edges.

BATS members and volunteers will be responsible for the maintenance of the trail, and BATS is looking for people who may be interested in volunteering to help keep the park clean — especially those who live in the neighborhood.

"The more, the merrier," Cassano said.

BATS still hopes for trail construction to begin late October or early November once enough materials are donated.

"We're still trying to make it happen," Cassano said. "We know it's possible."

A team of BATS members and volunteers will complete the build of the track over a series of days, and finishing touches such as signage and landscaping will be done in the spring.

Christie Wisniewski can be reached at cwisniewski@benningtonbanner.com and at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.

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