(Newport, RI) There’s an exciting project sprouting on the north side of Miantonomi Park, and it just got even more exciting. The campus of Newport’s Big Blue Bike Barn – due to open this Spring – is getting a lot bigger, making room for berms and waves of dirt and grass optimized for even more healthy happy activity on two wheels. A pump track is coming!
Thanks to the Newport Housing Authority, vacant land is being put to use for the youth of the neighborhood and the City. “Bike Newport proposed a community use for this land and we’re wholly on board,” shared Rhonda Mitchell, Executive Director at the Housing Authority, “The lot will be used for healthy, fun activity, and it will be there for redevelopment when we need it. We’re delighted!”
The facility build will take place this spring and summer, and it’s a good thing, because – to quote Bike Newport – “The kids are waiting!”
“We can’t wait for the Bike Barn – and now this! I’m going to ride there a lot!” Enthusiasm like that of 15-year-old Ethan Southworth is echoing around the city as word spreads. “And yeah we’re going to help build it, too,” Ethan’s twin brother Logan chimed in as they viewed the pump track designs.
The original “Bike Library” located in Newport’s north end neighborhood has been a busy spot for kids since 2010 – supported in large part by Newport Hospital’s youth-focused Powered by Prince Fund. When the program outgrew the parking lot container that originally housed the bike-lending library, a Strategy Grant from the Rhode Island Foundation brought attention to the needed expansion. The Newport Housing Authority responded by making an unused lot available for what is becoming the Bike Barn. While the City of Newport was helping clear the site and adjacent trails, the Bazarsky Family Foundation arrived with a promise to see the facility build through to completion. Volunteers got on board with both expertise and time, and the project went from dream to reality in just over a year.
Now two 40’ containers are the anchor structures on the Bike Barn land and spring 2019 promises both groundbreaking and program. “The beauty is that we can fabricate and run program on site simultaneously as soon as the warm weather settles in,” explains Bike Newport Program Manager, Jordan Miller. “We’re using the winter to finalize the plans and get ready to spring into action.”
The containers will soon be muraled by community artists and surrounded by gardens with the help of Aquidneck Community Table. Architecture students from Roger Williams University will design and place program areas and awnings; surfaces and trails will continue to be improved in partnership with the City and the Aquidneck Land Trust; and further support from the RI Foundation will provide sustainable practices for water, power, and furniture from locally sourced wood. “It’s this deep collaboration on active healthy education that caught our attention and sealed our partnership,” shared philanthropist Carol Bazarsky. “An educational space in one of the city’s most beautiful locations. We are so grateful for the investment in the north end and Miantonomi Park.”
Numerous local foundations and agencies in addition to the Bazarsky Foundation and RI Foundation are making the Bike Barn campus a reality. Powered by Prince,Van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the RITBA Foundation, and the Merritt Family Fund support the project facilities, programs and equipment; and local companies and agencies including the City of Newport RI, Aquidneck Land Trust, Gambrell’s Landscape llc., Reynolds DeWalt, Sunbelt Rentals, Newport Solar, Place Studio, UG Nasons, Newport Health Equity Zone, Newport County YMCA, Preservation Society of Newport County, and others are generously providing resources and expertise. Interested businesses and volunteers, please contact Allyson McCalla, firstname.lastname@example.org, to get involved.
On April 11th, the annual “Bike Newport Night” party will raise enthusiasm, awareness, and funds, for the Pump Track as well as the overall Bike Barn project. Everyone is invited to celebrate and energize the project and the building of bike dreams – generously hosted by Parlor Bar and Kitchen, 6-9pm, 200 Broadway in Newport. Tickets available at www.bikenewportri.org.