HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Sharp stakes were found sticking out of the ground on a mountain bike trail at John Hunt Park in Huntsville back in May.
News 19 spoke with one resident who was working to make child safety a priority, but five months later it seems the problems are continuing.
When the bike trail was still under construction there were “sharpened sticks and stobs sticking up out of the ground, anywhere from six inches tall to two-foot-tall, that are adjacent to the bicycle trail. Right along the edges of it,” said concerned Huntsville resident Bob Lewis.
To get the situation resolved, Lewis took matters into his own hands, with the help of city council members Francis Akridge and Bill Kling.
“So we spent about 11 man hours total over a period of three days and removed maybe 100 to 150 of these stakes from the bike trail,” said Lewis.
That happened in July. But just a few months later, in September, Lewis noticed more stakes pop up, after some clipping on the trail.
“They had put in place about two dozen new stakes that hadn’t ever been there before,” said Lewis.
“We don’t agree that there’s the hazards that he’s described to us,” said Huntsville City Administrator John Hamilton. ‘We’ve spent a lot of time out there. We have teams of people that walk the trails and make sure that the mountain bike trail is safe.”
Hamilton says because the trail is in a wooded area, it’s difficult to get rid of all potential hazards.
“That’s what it’s intended to be,” said Hamilton. “That’s what the sport is. It’s not dissimilar to the trails that you have up on Monte Sano Mountain or other places.”
“To help him understand how dangerous these stakes could be, I had gone down to Kroger and I bought three chickens,” said Lewis. “Dropping them from 2.5-3 feet above the stakes, they went right down to the ground and the stakes are protruding up through the chickens. I thought that might help him understand a child could get hurt.”
Lewis’ specific concern is when the trail is cleared and clipped by maintenance workers and manmade sharp stakes are created.
“There were some examples where people had not done the clearance the way intended but before the course opened, all those issues were corrected.”
“I’m just trying to keep people from getting hurt and I’m also trying to, I thought help the city but it looks to me like they’re opening themselves up to a lawsuit if something happens and it can be avoided real easily,” explained Lewis.
With an event at the trail this coming weekend, Lewis wants the problems resolved quickly to avoid anyone getting hurt.
Hamilton says regular trail maintenance is kept up by an organization named HAMR and before organized events like the one coming up, they’ll review the course to make sure it is safe.