Escondido Residents Debate BMX Race Track At Kit Carson Park
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Bicycle motocross or BMX is an extreme version of bike riding. In line tracks with jumps and obstacles. It became an Olympic sport five years ago. Now there is a proposal to build a track in Escondido's Kit Carson Park. Opposition is being raised just like in the case of the waterslide park proposed annex can be to and defeated earlier this year. A group called Friends of Kit Carson Park want to see the Park stages the way this. I would like to welcome Vince who is proposing the track. And Grant Taylor is president of Friends of Kit Carson Park. Vince, what would you propose actually look like in Kit Carson Park? VINCE MCCURDY: There are many designs here. There's really no set way of a BMX track is laid out. Usually 700 to 1000 feet long. To accommodate all the kids. The track with basically ñ do you have a picture? MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: No, I don't, we're on the radio. I'm guessing a dirt track with lots of hills? VINCE MCCURDY: Yeah about thousand feet long. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: About the size of a high school football field? VINCE MCCURDY: No, no, no. About half that. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tell us what the BMX tracks are like. VINCE MCCURDY: We arrange kids by age and skill level. Usually we have 25 to 50 kids. You have three skill levels in each age group. Novice, intermediate and expert, and we can have and adult in there riding with the kids. These are pedal bikes with no motors on them. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What will you asking of the city of Escondido? VINCE MCCURDY: We're trying to partner up with the city of Escondido on getting the track. They have the necessary tools. We talked over various conversations as half that stuff that they have their our storage yards. This would bring the cost way down. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It's going to cost the city to build it and the amount is.net known. Was it ever Escondido? VINCE MCCURDY: We're proposing this to service kids in the area with BMX bikes. There a lot of BMX sellers in that area. These people have to drive all the way to San Diego to write. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Isn't there a track in Escondido? Not at the sports center? VINCE MCCURDY: No. They have skate park there. Not a BMX style for a bike. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Grant, for those who are not familiar with Kit Carson Park please describe it. GRANT TAYLOR: Everything that you would expect. You also find that we have natural habitats and open spaces and you find runners and dog walkers and people picnicking, one of the most appealing features of Kit Carson Park are the open spaces and the natural habitats. We are interested in preserving that. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Your organization is relatively new. What is the purpose of it? GRANT TAYLOR: Friends of Kit Carson Park was established of a result of the waterpark issue that you mentioned earlier. We realized after the waterpark issue ñ that was proposed for Kit Carson and it was eventually defeated. GRANT TAYLOR: That is right. A number of citizens came out to oppose the waterpark idea in the deal ultimately died. At that time, a group of us got together and found that if this can happen once they can happen again. We want to pay attention what is going on and we decided to organize a group called Friends of Kit Carson Park to oversee what is going on in the Park and to preserve and protect the park in its current unspoiled character. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So you want to keep every kind of commercial development out of the park? GRANT TAYLOR: Look at things. By case peer-to-peer not trying to shoot from the hip. We're not against the bill that we have never heard about your brother certain developments and the vast majority of them that we do not want to see going into the park. That we make one thing clear. Friends of Kit Carson Park is not against a BMX track in Escondido. We think that it would be a great enhancement to the community, but when I'm here today for is to demonstrate that the uniquely inappropriate location they Kit Carson Park would be. That is what I'd like to do here. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That we ask Vince, let me ask Vince why did you choose Kit Carson Park? VINCE MCCURDY: The piece of dirt that we are looking to use is just a dirt lot your we're using three locations in Escondido. Some of them are just not possible. Some really nice places, but some would be too expensive to get going. Kit Carson Artie has the infrastructure, the property and parking and easy access and food and shopping. It is a Park already. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: See you feel it makes sense to put it there. VINCE MCCURDY: Cost wise and yes it makes sense. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Grant, what do you have to say to the argument that the track will bring revenue to the city? GRANT TAYLOR: We're interested in maintaining the existing character of the park your. Even a 2 acre section of the park we have the additional traffic problem. Running off their Valley Parkway, very familiar with the fact that there are three schools there and the North County fair in churches there your traffic authority problematic in the area. The BMX track would make that worse. The track itself calls for lighting and loudspeaker system, not the most attractive thing that you would look at and if you were to Google Earth BMX checks he could see for yourself. It's not a pretty thing to. We are against it for those reasons are quick feel that also part, to make 2 acres that we feel a tremendous car on the park. But also the Sunni neighborhoods. If you look at the business plan, you'll see that is very compelling from his point of view. But from the city point of view it's not such a great deal. The reason is, the cities being asked that pay $113,000, and the fact that they are indicating that they're going to pay about $84,000 of their own money. The be a way to be aware $60,000 is just the first is least. They're very little out-of-pocket costs for this venture, and if the business were to fail the city would be left with a giant mound of dirt surrounded by bleachers and lighting and a fully functioning loudspeaker system. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That they respond to some of those are quite me let you respond to those VINCE MCCURDY: We're bringing this all in there. We're bringing $84,000 and $60,000 of that is resident revenue back to the city. Hundred thousand dollars investment the three good. As for parking, we actually operate in the afternoon so when traffic goes through everyone should be home and schools are out and they will be coming back to the park at the main Street in the mainstream we're going to be operating during heavy traffic. The park itself does not operate all day long. We would be coming in after tracking because past and coming back into the park. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You both think that something like this is something that voters should decide? Would either but if you want to see that put up to a referendum? GRANT TAYLOR: I don't know if that is called for, this evening there is a meeting at City Hall and I hope that listeners will attend. We'll be talking about this tonight at 630 of the City Chambers. Will hear a lot more about this proposal than and the citizens of Escondido at that point will make their voices heard. We know that people are supporting both sides. They will be there tonight. So I think that was appropriate at this point is to let the facts come out and let's see where this proposal goes and fill in some of the empty space in this proposal. Find out what is really being proposed here and let's move forward from there. If we need to come up with a referendum down the road to preferred preserve and protect a very important piece of Escondido heritage, maybe we should do that. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How do the softball parks differ from the BMX track? GRANT TAYLOR: Those leagues pay money to the city and receive money from participants. Number one, they are already built. There are there. This is an entirely new venture. It is a for-profit venture. It may be highly speculative. All we're saying is that there's nothing that we can do about the past. What is there now is there. We want to make it work better, and what we are opposed to is the city carving out sections of the part to give to private businesses so that they can start up companies such as the one we're talking about. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you think this is popular enough that it would be approved? VINCE MCCURDY: No question. We have three BMX parts in San Diego. The one in San Diego was built in 1976. The other was born in eighteen 1989. Zero cost to the city and maintenance costs and stuff that they put into softball at skate parks is wiped out. They're totally self-assessed health patient and they produce new attractions for the park as well. You can come out with your son or daughter in get a bike and ride right next to them. There's not too many places you can do that. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I am out of time. The meeting tonight is held at 630 for the community services commission at the Escondido City Hall. Thank you both.
BMX racing is one of the so-called "extreme sports," but it's important to know it’s not the motorized variety. The "B" stands for "bicycle" and it's all about pedal power.
Vince McCurdy operates two BMX tracks in Lakeside and Kearny Mesa. He said as Escondido considers a plan to build a race track in Kit Carson Park, residents should remember that noise shouldn’t be a big issue for communities.
"There’s going to be yelling and screaming, 'Pedal, pedal, pedal!' and, 'My baby's winning!' and there’ll be announcers calling the kids out," he said, "but as for engine noise — none!"
McCurdy said BMX racing appeals to little kids and adults and it’s been an Olympic sport since 2008. McCurdy has had his eye on a track in North County for years.
"Basically we’re going to put on a BMX race same as in the Olympics," he said. "We start actually racing 'em at a competitive level at age 5 and under. So they bring their bikes, we’ll get 'em in a helmet and make sure they got a suit and then they take off down the hill and race around for a trophy."
But a group of Escondido residents recently formed to defend Kit Carson Park from incursions by private enterprises. Ruth Weber is a member.
"Only the people that can pay to use it will be able to use it and it’s a public park," she said. "Everybody should be able to use all the things in the park without paying. And the city would have to pay to construct this area — so the city and the taxpayers are having all the risk and not the person that is actually going to run the park.“
The proposal on the table has the city of Escondido paying $113,000 to build the park, which would then be leased to Escondido BMX, a for-profit entity.
Wednesday night’s hearing is to see if the plan has any traction in the community.