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McClellan trails to double in length

Board voted Wednesday for project

McClellan Bike Trails

Charles Wilson of Ashville rides on the McClellan Bike Trails. Wilson said he has rode the McClellan Bike Trails a dozen times and is looking forward to the trail being extended. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

Mountain bike trails at McClellan are set to grow significantly next year, after the McClellan Development Authority voted Wednesday to approve a new phase of construction. 

Starting in January, work will begin on 4 to 6 miles of new trail in the hills near Brig. Gen. Stem Avenue. MDA board member Freeman Fite said the project, approved by unanimous vote, would cost the MDA around $250,000.

“It’s going to be great,” Fite said after the meeting at the MDA’s headquarters on Bain’s Gap Road. “It will give us some variety but it will keep it friendly to new bikers.”

The MDA is the appointed body charged with redeveloping the former Fort McClellan, the Army base that closed 20 years ago Monday. This year, the MDA launched 4 miles of mountain-bike trails — a more beginner-friendly counterpart to the trails on Coldwater Mountain across town, which are well-known among bikers nationwide. 

McClellan officials expect the site to host a competition by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, the association for middle- and high-school mountain biking teams, in March. 

The MDA has never counted traffic on the existing 4-mile trail, though board members say they regularly pass the site and often find at least a few cars in the parking lot. 

Fite said the new construction would add some intermediate- and easier-level areas to the trail. Construction is expected to be complete in April, Fite said. He said the work isn’t likely to interfere with the NICA race because the new trails won’t be accessible to the racers.

The work will be done by the International Mountain Biking Association, Fite said. Attempts to reach IMBA’s trail-building division for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful. 

The vote came after the MDA board met behind closed doors for more than two hours, citing the clauses in state law that allow them to meet in executive session to discuss ongoing legislation and real estate matters. 

For months, the board has been in a court battle with Xtreme Concepts, a security contracting company that used former barracks facility known as the Starships under lease with the MDA. 

The authority came close to selling the property to Xtreme earlier this year, but backed out of the plan and in moved in May to evict the company, citing missed rent payments and alleging that runoff from Xtreme’s dog-training facility was responsible for E. coli in Cane Creek. Circuit Judge Debra Jones in June ruled that Xtreme could remain on the site while its suit against the MDA is ongoing. 

The board held no vote on the Xtreme suit after coming out of the closed-door session Wednesday. 

According to court documents, both parties in the suit are set to present Jones with a schedule for producing documents in the case next week. 

The case will come to court in the first quarter of 2020, according to an order filed by Jones. 

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.

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