Ashland's bicycle jump park is mostly run down.
No one has put shovel to dirt there with any serious enthusiasm for about half a decade, says Bill Roberts, who was a part of the park's construction.
The park's current condition reflects that.
That didn't stop 17-year-old Nikota Gatewood and a handful of his friends Friday from riding the dirt trails that do exist between the weeds.
"It's a fun place to come ride," says Gatewood, catching his wind between runs through the series of jumps.
The four teens, ages 14-17, were from the Shady Cove area. It was their first time at the park, they say.
Similar parks around the valley, in Medford, White City and Grants Pass, are in better shape, says the group, "because the people that ride there build on those park," says 16-year-old Mason Marion, "but Ashland's park isn't bad."
"It seems like people soured and just kind of lost interest in working on it," Roberts says. "The people who were involved moved on."
Roberts is a long-time cycling enthusiast, having ridden most styles, including dirt jumping, in his 20 years of experience in the industry, he says.
According to the jump park's website, ashlandjumppark.org, and Roberts, mostly young local riders in 1997 were initiating the idea of the park with Ashland's City Council, Parks and Recreation Department and neighbors of the site adjacent to the Ashland Dog Park off Nevada Street at the end of Almeda Drive.
The plan wasn't finalized with the city until 2004, according to the website.
That's when Roberts came in.
After the City of Ashland delivered 80 dump truck loads of mostly decomposed granite and clay dirt leftover from an building expansion at Ashland's Community Hospital that year, work began constructing the jumps.
An excavator donated by the city helped to "get the dirt all roughly in kind of the right places," Richards says. The rest of the work and terrain maintenance, was left up to interested community members.
"My understanding was that people would build by hand after that," he says. "A lot of people took a step back after that, and I guess I was still the person standing there."
Don Robertson, Parks Department director, says he remembers the same.
Roberts's work schedule changed, taking up more of his time, and the responsibility of maintaining the park, "was certainly more work than what one person should handle," he says.
He hasn't been to the park in about five years.
"I certainly had difficulty getting people from the local riding community to assist," says Roberts, who lives in the Applegate Valley, but frequents Ashland.
As the only connected phone number listed on the jump park's website, no more than one or two people have called him wanting to get involved with the park, he says, since 2007.
"As the group moved on, it pretty much withered and remained as it was "… there were no successors," says Robertson. "Now it's city property with some piles of dirt."
The Parks department maintains a trash can there, Robertson says, but the jump park isn't on list of potential investments within the department.
"We have a lot of other priorities," he says.
Robertson is welcoming people interested in maintaining the jump park to contact Parks Department Volunteer Coordinator Lori Ainsworth, at 541-552-2264. Ainsworth oversees Ashland's volunteer Adopt-a-Park Program.
Heather Alimossy, a nanny from Gold Hill, has brought 7-year-old Alex Donnelly of Ashland to the park about 10 times in the last three months, she says.
"It could use more areas to ride around "… more stuff that he can use," she says. "I think if there was more to ride, there would be more riders."
Before discovering the jump park, she took Donnelly to the Ashland Skate Park, but it was too crowded, she says.
"I love it here. "… I usually have it to myself," says Donnelly, who attends first grade at Bellview Elementary.
Breathing hard from a few times through course, Gatewood leaned over his handle bars at the top of the roll in.
"The only thing I would really change is that sewage smell."
The city's Wastewater Treatment Plant butts up against an undeveloped portion of the park.
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email email@example.com.