Volunteers plan to build new mountain bike trail in Mt. Vernon - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Volunteers plan to build new mountain bike trail in Mt. Vernon

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MT. VERNON -- Folks in Jefferson County will soon have a new scenic place to ride their bicycles.

A group of about 50 volunteers want to build a new park, with the main attraction to be mountain bike-style trails. They say now, with the city's backing, they can't wait to get to work.

The area, known as Jaycee Lake, belongs to the city. Part of that property was once a beach and sat vacant for decades, and now volunteers have begun to reclaim the property for outdoor family activities.

It will be a path not made for 10-speeds.

"We've been waiting 25 years to see something like this happen," says volunteer Brad Dickneite.

You can already see hints of what will soon transform into a trail for mountain bikes. Volunteers like Dickneite have worked to turn part of Jaycee Lake into a new place to ride.

"Not only give the community something to do, but give people from surrounding communities a reason to come to Mt. Vernon," says Dickneite.

He says the city has about 30 acres for multi-use trails and picnic areas. After years of misuse from ATVs and erosion, some of that area has almost turned into a wasteland.

"That's why we're going in to sort of reclaim the land and build it up to where it's better than when we found it," explains Dickneite.

Last April, Dickneite approached the city with his plans. During the last council meeting, city leaders expressed interest in the project.

"It's very easy to get behind a group that is willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved with their time, their energy and their efforts," says Parks and Public Facilities Director Wes Plummer.

Plummer has heard several suggestions for what to do with the area over the years, but he likes this project because it won't cost the city a dime.

"Zero city funding right now," adds Plummer. "For the initial stages of this project, it's really just a lot of hands on work that's going to get done by the volunteers. We'll do a little bit of in-kind labor."

Dickneite calls this truly a "people's project."

"What do we do with Jaycee Lake? Here's your answer, is we build a community trail that's built by the community for the community's use," he added.

Dickneite says he hopes the city will sign an official proclamation for the mountain bike trial at the next council meeting. Volunteers hope to start cleanup this spring, and have the area open for use by the summer.

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