FAIRBANKS, Alaska - A new park for off-road vehicles, in the making for 9 years, is finally becoming a reality. Corey Bellows, president of the Fairbanks Offroad Lions says they have worked with three different mayors throughout the process of acquiring the lease. "The borough approached us, I believe in the spring of 2010, and approached us about Tanana Lakes Project. They said there was a 200 acre section they'd like to open for an off-road vehicle park and wanted to know if we were interested, and I said 'absolutely,'" said Bellows.
Although there are many places in Alaska to explore in off-road vehicles, Bellows says this park has a unique function. "This park is more for training, events, for people to come out and just practice and have some fun locally in town. So they understand what it means to tread lightly, and have the skills to take it out in the free range without doing damage and making a bad name for all of us," said Bellows.
On Saturday afternoon, Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward and the Fairbanks Offroad Lions made it official by signing the lease. "It's been quite the undertaking. The wheels of government don't always move fast. I think everyone hoped they would move a little bit quicker on this one, but we're here today and we're here to get this thing done so that the lions can go out there and begin to develop this park," said Ward.
Todd Smith with the Fairbanks Offroad Lions, has been off-roading for 20 years and is excited about the size of the new park. "My favorite part of off-roading is just getting out and riding on trails and getting into the wild open… and the scenery, I mean that's why we live here obviously... and just getting outside and enjoying the wild... that's what it's all about," said Smith.
Bellows says they have plans to put in an obstacle course, boulder garden, and even a race course throughout the park. "It's going to be a big playground to come out and play in the dirt," said Bellows.
Now that they have the lease, the Fairbanks Offroad Lions are going to work on building up the park before they open it to the public.
"It's going to be a tremendous asset for the Fairbanks North Star Borough and for the state of Alaska, because of the things you are going to do with this area to draw people in, (and) to be able to share what we have as a state with our residents," said Ward.