The city of Fort Morgan, Colo., is a great place to raise a family, but it tends to lack in outdoor recreational spaces. Green space is abundant and there is a large park/trail system, but there was a growing need for affordable recreation/entertainment for kids. Thanks to the efforts of city leaders and some funds from the Colorado Lottery, Brenda Joy Bike Park has become that local hangout.
“Pedaling” the idea
Located in the southwest corner of Fort Morgan, Brenda Joy Park is a 3-acre green space that serves older residents and young families just starting out. Originally comprised of a grassy area, playground, shelter and BMX bike track, it became overgrown with weeds and was the topic of negative comments from residents requesting improvements to the property.
In 2015, the city sold a property known as the Old Fort Park and used the proceeds from that sale to design and build a new 8,000-square-foot, bowl-shaped skate park at Brenda Joy, which opened in 2015. However, it did little to alleviate the weed problem or satisfy other necessary upgrades.
Around this time, Ty Hamer took over as the director of community service and was overseeing the completion of the skate park as well as many other improvements to Brenda Joy Park.
“My predecessor Josh Miller had a wonderful plan and vision for the park, which included the skate park and entry-level bike park. (He) applied for a mini-grant through the Great Outdoor Colorado (GOCO) program to build the bike park, but it was denied. The skate park ended up being built on the location where the bike park was originally planned.”
In 2018, Hamer and his intern Daniella Cabrera revisited the project. They worked with Progressive Bike Ramps to create a new plan for the bike park and reapplied for the grant. When the $45,000 was approved, the parks department began prepping the site along with a crew from PBR and a few local Scouts who assisted as part of a merit badge project.
“All in all, the plan came together really nicely,” Hamer said. “With the GOCO funds, the city was able to do much more work to the site than would have been possible. The project was able to be completed, and it was open to the public by the summer of 2019.”
The Brenda Joy Bike Park has been well received by the public, is heavily used on the weekends and has become a popular spot for families and teens. Hamer said developing Brenda Joy Park has greatly improved access for all type of people. It has bike features designed to help people develop skills, and it is designed to accommodate all levels of riders.
“We created a beginner area, a technical area and an advanced jump line for the more advanced thrill seekers,” Hamer said.
While growing up in Colorado, Hamer said he was an avid biker in his youth and continues to be an outdoor enthusiast so he was excited to work on the Brenda Joy Bike Park and was very hands-on throughout the process. In addition to being on-site and in the dirt with the crew while the new features were being built, he regularly visits the site and is always on the lookout for ways in which it can be made better in the future.
In addition to being a big hit with the public, the Brenda Joy Bike Park received a GOCO Star Burst Award for excellence in the use of lottery funds last June. The award is intended to recognize projects that make good use of GOCO funds while making a significant change or improvement to the community as a whole.
“With so many projects funded with lottery dollars, it’s sometimes easy to forget all the different types of outdoor projects that result from lottery revenue,” said Tom Seaver, director of the Colorado Lottery. “This year’s Starburst Awards showcase the diverse uses of lottery money — ballfields, bike parks, playgrounds, riparian zones and, of course, massive land purchases. These Starburst awards demonstrate just a fraction of the ways lottery dollars are going to work wherever and however Coloradans like to play.”
Hamer said it is great to be recognized for the project, but it took an army to turn the Brenda Joy Bike Park into a reality. “I am just one part of a bigger cog in the wheel, part of a great team of leaders here at the city. This project and many of my current projects have been in the making for many years and a lot of credit needs to go to the former director Josh Miller for his vision and effort to start planning these improvements,” Hamer said. “Like our city manager always says, ‘The city lives on forever.’ I am just happy to help make it a better place for the future.”