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Funds raised to start building BMX Bike Park

POSTED October 27, 2009 11:30 p.m.
Since February’s approval from the Turlock City Council members, the community has been saving money in their piggy banks to donate as much as they could for the BMX Bike Park to be built in Turlock.  
The goal is $10,000. As of Tuesday, they have raised a total of $10,470.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Turlock City Council accepted the donations of $2,115 from various donors to top off the $10,000 goal. About $1,000 of the newly accepted donations did not come in the form of cash, but instead in the form of fencing material to help build around the BMX Bike Park.    
When the Turlock City Council voted to approve the BMX Bike Park they made it clear that construction would not begin until the community raised $10,000 of the estimated $25,000 cost of the park. They also agreed to set aside $15,000 from the City’s park fund, to help pay for the Bike Park.
With the community meeting their goal, staff is now ready to begin the development of the BMX Bike Park.  
“The ball is in the city’s court now,” said David “DJ” Fransen, who spearheaded the Bike Park project.  
On the community part of this project, Fransen plans to organize volunteers for volunteer days, finalize a design for the park, and work on the grand opening of the park which is aimed for this spring, he said.
In the original proposal for the Bike Park, the city did not budget for any labor costs because volunteers are supposed to put the park together, Fransen said. This is where Fransen is organizing volunteer days to help put the park together. So far there have been 40 volunteers that have contacted Fransen.    
As of recently, Fransen was notified that he could not volunteer time putting the park together because there is a Federal Labor Law that prevents city workers to volunteer for work that is similar to their job duties, he said.
“It is discouraging because I have been a part of this and now I can’t volunteer to help,” Fransen said.
Now that the community is ready for the Bike Park to get started on the dirt jumps, the city has to start dribbling the ball in their court.  
“With the money raised, we will now notify all participants and donors about volunteer work days,” said Dan Madden, Municipal Services Director for the City of Turlock. “We will have one hopefully mid-November.”
Before the volunteer work day, city crews will come in and relocate some sprinklers and do some work in the area in preparation, Madden said.
Depending on how many volunteers there are will determine when the Bike Park will be finished, he said.
The money that was raised by the community will be used to cover materials, Madden said. The bulk of the labor for the park will be done by the volunteers. If city crews need to come in, they will be paid as city employees.
Raising $10,000 and some extra change within about eight months shows some good effort.
“In these economic times, they raised the money in good time,” Madden said.
Regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act, Madden is forced to not let city employees volunteer to do a task that they already get paid for as an employee, he said.
The BMX Bike Park will be located on the corner of Paseo De Leon and Panorama Avenue.
The project was initially opposed by the Turlock Unified School District, whose Walnut Elementary Center is adjacent to the bike park, but the Turlock City Council came up with a new set of rules for the park, including restrictions on hours of operation, to put aside the District’s fears of disruptive bike park users. The park will be fenced and the gate will be locked until 3:45 p.m. on school days.
“The community wants a BMX Bike Park and it is an asset to this community,” Madden said. “We wish we would have done it sooner.”
If interested in volunteer work days, contact Fransen at 678-7759.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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