SALISBURY — Outdoor options in Salisbury could be expanding this year now that the Salisbury City Council has agreed to advance a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for mountain bike trails in the city park.

Acting Public Works Director Amanda Pollack told the council that the MoU would clearly define the city’s responsibility in regards to mountain bike trails.

“Essentially this MoU is delineating the responsibilities of both the Mountain Bike Association (MBA) and the city as far as the mountain bike trails in the park,” said Pollack. “So, essentially, the Mountain Bike Association would be designing the trails, obtaining all of the necessary permits and approvals to construct them, they would supervise the volunteers during construction as well as the maintenance of the trails in the future. They will be coordinating with the city on any modifications to the trails going forward and they would purchase and install all trail signs.”

The lion’s share of responsibility would lay with the MBA, said Pollack. The city would play a part in the upkeep of the trails, however, with things like design and implementation plan reviews as well as public safety.

“The city would encourage police patrols,” Pollack explained.

After reviewing the MoU, the council voiced support for the partnership, but several council members asked that language be tweaked before officially being adopted. Councilman Tim Spies asked that a proposed Salisbury University assessment of standing trees at the east end of the city park be conducted before any major alterations are made.

“Can we get this done before we do any changes in the tree structure that we have there?” he asked.

The plan for trails doesn’t call for the removal of any trees, said Councilwoman Laura Mitchell, at least to the best of her knowledge. However, she said she supported the assessment. One thing Mitchell did ask is that language in the MoU be adjusted to emphasize that the MBA will not only be installing new trails but will also be re-furbishing “legacy trails” that already exist but have fallen out of use.

“They’re not just developing. They’re re-developing. In fact, in the agreement it talks about refurbishment and maintenance,” said Mitchell. “This, I think, kind of makes it sound like they’re doing all new trials. I would add ‘develop and re-develop.’”

Council President Jake Day asked about the status of those legacy trails and the fact that they have fallen out of use.

“Does that imply that we have had trouble maintaining?” he asked.
The trails that were established weren’t kept regularly, said Spies.
“We furbished and then we went away,” he said.

Many of the trails were put in place by individuals, added Mitchell, who started out with good intentions but ran into difficulties in long-term maintenance. The new MoU with the MBA looks to solve those inconsistences by putting a plan for the future in black and white.

The council decided unanimously to advance the MoU for consideration at their next legislative session at the end of this month, where they will vote on whether to officially adopt the plan. Before that meeting, Pollack told the council that the MoU is scheduled for further review by the City Parks Commission. That group has already seen a nearly complete version of the document, she explained, but will be given a chance to review the minor changes.

“It’s very similar but just out of courtesy for them they’re going to see it again,” said Pollack. “But I really don’t anticipate any problems but we wanted to make sure that they were in the loop on that.”