But the city has conditions, said Denise Pearce, the department’s special projects administrator.

A project must be consistent with the department’s mission. The group must prove it can maintain what it builds.

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It also must be a good fit for its proposed location. And in this case, it was — because Van Dorn Park needed a new reason for people to go there.

The park got its start more than 100 years ago, when its first parcel was deeded to the city. It grew to become one of the city’s major parks, serving neighborhoods in southwest Lincoln, said J.J. Yost, the department’s planning and construction manager.

But a new busy intersection at Ninth, 10th and Van Dorn streets — and its connection to Nebraska 2 — became a barrier for families living east and north of the park.

“It really doesn’t serve the neighborhood as well as it once did,” Yost said.

2 miles of single track in Van Dorn Park

Krist’s proposal also made sense because the park already had a history with trails, and this was an expansion and improvement of that, Yost said.

Once the plan was approved by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and city lawyers, Krist was free to get to work.

He and others rode and walked potential paths several times, staking out a route with flags, then pulling them up and starting over. He wanted a loop with good flow, and enough quick elevation change — climbs and descents — to keep the ride interesting.