A group of Rockford Park District citizens and silent sports enthusiasts – hikers, runners, cyclists, and skiers – seeks to expand recreational opportunities at Atwood Park. The vision of the silent sports stakeholders has been realized in the following master plan prepared by Progressive Trails Design.
UPDATE: March 23, 2016
Rockford Park District Commissioners Approve Silent Sports Master Plan for Atwood Park and Alpine Hills Adventure Park
ROCKFORD, IL – In 2015, a group of local citizens and “silent sports” enthusiasts, now known as the Silent Sports Friends Group, approached the Rockford Park District to share their vision for the development of non-motorized recreational opportunities at Atwood Park, 7074 Rydberg Road, Rockford. A silent sports facility would include activities such as: mountain biking, hiking, trail running, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, wildlife observation, and fat biking, to name a few. The group also identified opportunities for multi-use trails at Alpine Hills Adventure Park, 4402 Larson Ave., Rockford.
Tonight, the Rockford Board of Commissioners approved the Silent Sports Master Plan for trail development at Atwood Park and Alpine Hills Adventure Park. Funding for the master plan was made possible through a combination of public funds and assistance from stakeholders’ fundraising efforts. With this action, the Rockford Park District will partner with the Silent Sports Friends Group to pursue fundraising efforts to realize construction of the trails. “This plan is intended to rely minimally on tax dollars. To date, the volunteer group has raised over $25,000, and will continue fundraising efforts in earnest working toward the $400,000 goal needed to complete the first phase of the project next year,” said Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners President Ian Linnabary.
About Silent Sports Master Plan
Progressive Trail Design, a trail building and outdoor recreation development company that specializes in the design and construction of all types of soft surface trails, was retained by the Park District to complete a master plan exploring silent sports opportunities at Atwood Park and Alpine Hills Adventure Park. Progressive Trail Design and the Rockford Park District held multiple public informational meetings to gather input and the vision of the silent sports community. The master plan includes design elements identified by stakeholders and District staff, with a focus on sustainability. The plan for Atwood Park includes the development of 20 miles of purposeful and sustainable multi-use trails, as well as a trailhead. The unique topography of Atwood Park encompasses woodland, prairie, river, and marsh habitats, making it an ideal site for outdoor year-round pursuits. The plan utilizes existing trails, closes some trails, and improves the trail system connectivity for all users.
While Atwood Park’s large area and natural setting make it the ideal site for a multi-use trails system, another District site has also been identified as a facility for outdoor adventure and silent sports activities.
The current year-round outdoor recreational program offerings at Alpine Hills Adventure Park make the proposed trail development and mountain biking activities the perfect complementary addition to the facility. The proposed activities to the Alpine Hills bike park would include a short beginner level trail, downhill trails and various skill levels, with a focus on skills development. The site has enough elevation to incorporate gravity-fed trails, and there are small pockets of flatter terrain for skill-building areas. The 64-page master plan can be viewed in its entirety by visiting www.rockfordparkdistrict.org/silentsports.
“This project is an important step forward for our community, and Rockford. To be able to offer these varied types of recreational opportunities this close to the city center will provide residents the chance to experience something new, as well as draw visitors from the surrounding area. I'm personally looking forward to these areas being a sort of catalyst to build a sense of community among our many existing outdoor user groups, and welcome new participants to these active outdoor pursuits,” said Rockford Area Mountain Biking Alliance President Steve Forss.
Trail materials were selected based upon low maintenance requirements. Way-finding signage for educational and directional purposes is a key design element in the plan. “The development of silent sports amenities at these two sites will provide citizens and visitors alike diverse recreation opportunities that are unique to the region. The activities will be similar at the two sites, but the context and planned programming will allow complementary uses at both facilities,” said Rockford Park District Operations Director Laurie Anderson. This master plan will guide the focus and priorities of future fundraising efforts, as well as the design, construction, and long-term trail system maintenance. Both sites are intended to be constructed as multi-year projects. The plan will be developed in phases, to coincide with fundraising efforts and to minimize reliance upon tax dollars.