Community torn over uses for He-Nis-Ra park

Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 10:49 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Green Bay parks staff are seeing more people enjoying the outdoors over the last year as the coronavirus pandemic wears on; but how one west side park is being used is causing some tension in the community.

Action 2 News first told you in December, the parks department held a community input meeting to get ideas on how to safely incorporate fat tire bike use.

“It’s less technical than Baird’s Creek. The hills here are challenging for my six year old but they’re also challenging in a good way. It gets very fun for him,” said Ryan Jolly, who comes to the park about twice a month to ride the trails with his son.

However, some neighbors are concerned about the extra traffic and erosion due to more bikers on the trails.

“If you’re on these trails and you’re dealing with 20-24 bikers it’s difficult, you have to get off the trail. You don’t have a choice,” said Julie Viste, who has been using the park for 40 years.

Now, the city is trying to find a way to give all users a choice.

Alder Jesse Brunette asked park staff to look at different options to accommodate the various activities, even if it means moving bikers to a different park.

“Never really intended for the idea to get out there to end biking here, it’s just looking at a better way to facilitate the use here,” said Brunette.

Tensions ran a little high last week after Jolly found screws on the trail.

“It was definitely in the worst spot to be in. You can’t stop, you can’t swerve and it could be really dangerous,” said Jolly. He picked up as many as he could find and there’s no indication of how or why the screws were on the trail in the first place.

Both walkers and bikers tell us, they are committed to finding a solution; even if they have different ideas on how to get there.

“I think it’s a problem that is solvable, and I think that problem is solvable by finding a bikers park,” said Viste. “I understand that the bikers want a place, but I don’t believe that this area, due to the fact with the local neighborhood, with the people that come here with their families, I don’t see them meshing.”

“As a biker, you know to look for these intersections, so you know not to crash into people. There’s no close calls, and I think we can co-exist and enjoy this park together,” said Jolly.

Parks staff say they’ve been working with different user groups like the Green Bay Bicycle Collective.

“We hate to lose a wonderful resource like that due to conjecture or fears of environmental degradation or injury. We want to work with neighbors and I know that we can co-exist peacefully,” said Heather Gentry, Executive Director of the Green Bay Bicycle Collective.

“I really do think there is a compromise at hand, I think perhaps the compromise is keeping biking the way it has always been, but finding ways to regulate it a little better,” said Brunette.

On Jan. 19, the City Council approved a motion to continue looking at options for fat tire bike trails in the area. They listened to about 90 minutes of discussion and community input. One idea was adding a second trail on the west side to give riders more options.

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