Sides disagree on bike track
Support has surfaced for the idea of building a dirt course for bicycles on city land in Port Aransas. Opposition also has cropped up.
The city council is scheduled to hear a city staff report on the matter at its regular monthly meeting today, Thursday, March 15. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. at council chambers at 710 W. Ave. A.
Council member Glenda Balentine said she had the subject put on the agenda to explore whether building a dirt bike track might be a good idea. She pointed out that many BMX-style cyclists have found themselves with few places to practice their particular brand of biking after being told to leave one of their favorite play areas, the skate area at Port Aransas Community Park.
It’s been against city rules to bike in the skate area since the facility opened in March 2010, but bikers – mostly youngsters – have long pedaled around there anyway.
The city council recently made moves to create a new ordinance to make it not just against park rules but actually illegal to ride a bike in the skate area. The council is scheduled to give a second reading of the proposed ordinance today. Signs are that it will be approved, because the council voted unanimously in favor of it on the first reading in February, and little opposition to the idea has been expressed publicly.
If it passes a third reading in April, the proposal will become law, and a violation will constitute a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.
BMX enthusiasts around town have applauded city officials for considering the idea of establishing a dirt bike track. City staff has begun researching the idea of possibly establishing a track built next to the skate area, but no decision has been made on whether to actually build it.
A track likely would have hills, ramps and other features that BMX bikers like for vaulting and doing other tricks.
Staff is expected to report on what they’ve learned so far about how such a bike area could be built and the potential positives and negatives that could be involved. Deputy City Manager Dave Parsons said he expects the council to hear the report and discuss the matter but not make a ruling today on whether to build the facility.
Port Aransas physician Des Kidd has said in the past that he is a bike course proponent and would volunteer his time to be a citizen “driver” of the cause for possibly building such a facility. He said he has been hoping to determine whether it’s feasible to build a park and whether there’s enough interest in starting a process for doing that.
Kidd, who over the years has competed in many kinds of bike races, including the BMX type, said he can’t attend the council meeting because he’ll be out of town. He said he has written up what he has to say on the subject and submitted it to city staff for review by the council.
Kidd said he is hoping bike course supporters will show up at the meeting. If few do, it may not be due to a lack of interest, but because proponents are out of town for Spring Break, he said.
City staff has estimated that a bike track likely would cost less than $30,000. But that kind of project isn’t funded in this year’s city budget. Even if the council ends up liking the idea of building a track, it’s not known where the money would come from.
Tracy Waight of Port Aransas opposes building a bike track, and she recently circulated a letter to get signatures of like-minded folks. She said she got about 30 signatures.
The letter has been included in paperwork that the council has received from city staff as briefing material on the bike park idea, according to Parsons.
“People like myself oppose it because it would only serve a minor percentage of the community,” Waight said. “I would rather (support) something that would draw more children.”
Kidd, on the other hand, said he has talked to quite a few folks around town who would be interested in using a bike course.
Questions? Comments? Contact Dan Parker at (361) 749- 5131 or email@example.com.