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BMX park does not meet expectations

But, ‘we’re working on it,’ say riders and city crew

BMX park does not meet expectations

Local youth try out the brand new Turlock BMX park, located behind Walnut Elementary School, on Wednesday.


POSTED December 24, 2009 2:07 p.m.
The soft opening of the Turlock BMX Bike Park was met with mixed reviews. City officials say that they rushed the park opening for winter break, but some riders say that the park isn’t up to standards.
Rick Harden, City of Turlock public facilities and maintenance manager, said that the park was opened on Dec. 19 to coincide with the Turlock public schools’ vacation time.
“We didn’t want to see kids jump the fence to use the park,” Harden said.
Some community members and bike park organizers, however, say that the dirt jumps at the park were not finished by opening day.
“Dirt jumps need to set, they need to bake in the sun. Especially in winter months, and with all this rain we’ve had,” said Matt Nascimento, owner of Bikeworks and an organizer for the bike park project.
The Turlock City Council allowed the bike park construction under the agreement that volunteers and bike park users would do most of the building and maintenance on the jumps and fund $10,000 of the project. The city earmarked an additional $15,000 for the project and supplied work crews to help with construction of the park.
Nascimento said that not only were the jumps not ready by opening day, they were not created according to plans that he submitted at the request of the City Council. Nascimento said that he closed his shop for three Saturdays to help with the BMX park construction. He said that on the last work day he was surprised to see that several of the double jumps he helped create had been filled in, and the park had been changed significantly from what he helped to create.
“Now the kids have a terrible bike park,” Nascimento said.
Harden said that the jumps were filled in because they were not safe. The double jumps — two steep hills with a chasm in the middle — were a serious concern.
“What if they jump and don’t make it? At least now they will be landing on dirt and not landing in a hole,” Harden said.
City crews also created several smaller dirt mounds for beginning riders and small children. The park now has three sizes of jumps, ranging from two foot high mounds to large jumps for advanced riders.
BMX riders said they were not impressed by the park on opening day. Several of the reconstructed jumps lacked a proper takeoff lip — the edge of the jump that riders use to launch themselves into the air. Brian Rosales, a freshman at Pitman High who uses the BMX park, said that without a lip he couldn’t actually jump his bike over the “jumps.” Without a lip they were just dirt mounds. City crews organized another work day at the request of the bike park users.
“In the beginning, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. But we’re working on it, making it how we want,” said David Bonvicino, a 14-year-old BMX rider who volunteered on Wednesday to reconstruct jumps.
Harden said that he was flexible, and the city would listen to park users’ needs. Once the current changes are finalized, there will be two work days a year where riders are allowed to change the park with the help of city crews.
Changes to the jumps are expressly forbidden without the help of city maintenance workers. All park rules are posted on fences around the park, including new “helmets required” signs.
A grand opening and ribbon cutting of the Turlock BMX Bike Park, located on the corner of Paseo De Leon and Panorama Avenue — will be scheduled in a few weeks. Donors will be recognized at the ceremony.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.
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