MARYSVILLE — Landon Oliphant waited about a third of his life for city officials to grant his request. He never gave up.
He is proof that local government, at least sometimes, listens to citizens of all ages, even those too young to vote.
What’s up with that?
Landon is 10.
He was 7 and in the first grade when he asked the Marysville Parks Board to build a pump track.
Short answer: A pump track is a continuous loop track of bumps, banks and turns that lets riders “pump” their bikes to gain momentum. To the untrained eye, it might resemble a traditional skatepark. To those who live vicariously, it looks paved with intrigue, spills and thrills.
Landon had visited other pump tracks in Bellingham and Wenatchee. He told the board a pump track was needed closer to home. He made a tri-fold display, showing what a pump track is (most had no idea) and how few and far between they were.
“I did a presentation,” Landon said.
It could have easily ended there. But it didn’t.
“As parks staff, we thought it was a great idea,” said Dave Hall, assistant parks director.
The parks board recommended the project to the City Council.
“Ultimately, everything is a council decision,” Hall said. “It got head nods and approval all the way.”
Even so, the months turned to years.
Last week, three years after that first grader gave his spiel, it happened. A grand opening was held at the spiffy new $270,000 asphalt pump track in Jennings Nature Park, 5314 64th St. NE.
“This pump track here, I’d never heard of one, I don’t know how many people have,” Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring told the gathering.
Landon stood by his bike, blond hair spilling from his helmet, until being called up with the other dignitaries for the ribbon cutting.
“We’re seeing the vision of a young man in our community coming to fruition here today,” Nehring said. “Sometimes people wonder: Is city government ever listening to the ideas of citizens? This is a truly citizen-oriented grassroots initiative that went all the way up the chain and got funded.”
All eyes were on Landon as he did the ceremonial first lap.
Overheard on the sidelines: “Don’t get hurt.”
Family friend Dan Stevens cheered him on: “Ride that bicycle like you stole it, Landon.”
“Landon always liked bicycles, from as little as can be,” said his grandfather, Bob Oliphant.
“He had a little Strider at age 1,” added his grandmother, Ginger. A Strider is a balance bike with two wheels powered by a child’s running legs rather than pedal.
Landon steered his Giant mountain bike around the track, gliding and sailing over the bumps and berms.
Other kids joined him. The track is for all levels.
Rory Dunn, 4, did dozens of laps on a Strider bike. Rory usually rides in front of his house. This was his first time on a pump track.
“He took off,” said his mom, Brenna Wold. “He watched a couple of the bigger boys and figured it out.”
The track can be used by almost anything with wheels, including skates and wheelchairs. It is usable year-round, except when covered in snow or ice.
American Ramp Company designed the track, with contractors Oceanside Construction, Inc., and Shire Built. Landon provided input.
When asked what is next, Landon, a select team baseball player, mentioned something about the city maybe needing a new ball field.
All you 7-year-olds — and 70-year-olds — can learn something from Landon about the politics of citizen initiative and perseverance.
Landon said it felt good to be part of getting something built that will get kids outside playing.
The hard part?
“Probably waiting for it to get done,” Landon said.