The City May Move Mountain Biking Off March’s Hill

Tuesday October 25, 2022

Photo: Stewart Lytle / The Town Common. The sign in March’s Hill advising young bikers of the rules.

NEWBURYPORT — The Parks Commission is launching a citywide search for a place young mountain bikers can ride and jump their bikes without annoying neighbors and those who enjoy hiking and dog walking in March’s Hill. 

For months, the neighbors and the bikers have been at odds over the mostly teenage riders’ construction and use of a series of trails and jumps in the woods at March’s Hill, a city park. The commission last summer banned more construction and had the parks department erect signs outlining rules for the riders that prohibited building more ramps, removing trees or widening trails.

“I’ve seen safer facilities. I’ve seen more dangerous ones,” Will Conroy, owner of Powder Horn Trail Building Co., told the commission. He had been asked by the commission to assess the March’s Hill ramps and trails and propose a solution. 

He said the jumps at March’s Hill, built by the teenage riders using hand tools and made of dirt and wood pallets, are not sustainable. 

Conroy, whose company has built four mountain bike facilities, including one for the city of Arlington, proposed rebuilding the jumps and trails a few hundred feet to the south away from the neighbors on Coffins Court and rebuilding them with professionally built jumps. 

That location would be in the wooded hills of the park, which the bikers seem to like. 

But the Parks Commissioners did not seem to like that idea. “We are still at a stalemate,” Ted Boretti, chair, said after the presentation. 

Boretti proposed that the commission conduct a feasibility study to identify other sites in the city where the bikers could have a jump course. “Anyone know of a good place?” he asked.

None did.

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