Give BMX park a chanceAdmittedly, it is difficult for a city like Mountain View to provide venues for every recreational interest that comes along. After all, we've already set aside links, courts, fields and a lake for golf, tennis, basketball, baseball, softball, football, kite flying, wind surfing, boating, etc. — not to mention the skateboarding park at Rengstorff.
But BMX biking apparently doesn't qualify. Last week, the City Council deadlocked 3-3 on an idea to have the Parks and Recreation Commission consider developing a new BMX park here, sending Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga's proposal down the tubes, for now.
The inaction (a tie vote equals a defeat) was a shame, and in our opinion the city should feel somewhat responsible for helping the BMX bikers out due to the unceremonious way it bulldozed an ad-hoc park on Stevens Creek Trail last August. Local riders had built this tiny outlaw spot on their own and had been safely using it for at least 20 years. But fear of injuries and liability finally convinced the city that the park, which was located on city property, had to go.
Certainly the city is right to be concerned about liability, and the need for oversight and maintenance, if a park were to be built. By one estimate, a BMX park would cost about $400,000 an acre and $70,000 a year to maintain, according to a September report by parks section manager Jack Smith. This seems like a needlessly high estimate, and far more than the $60,000 set aside for a BMX park by the council in 2007.
But Abe-Koga's proposal would have merely sent the idea to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Such a perusal would have cost nothing, and no action could be taken until the council considered the measure again, probably in the next six months or so.
The city does have some potential sites for a park picked out. One, preferred by staff members, would use a parcel at North Road just east of the city's dog park at Shoreline. Another possible location is the Crittenden overflow basin, located next to the North Road parcel, which was a recommended site years ago. Council member Mike Kasperzak has also suggested a meadow made accessible by the recent extension of the Stevens Creek Trail south of El Camino Real.
Currently, however, site selection is a moot point. Without four votes, the idea for even studying a new BMX park is dead in the water. We hope that fourth vote can be found. In the meantime, BMX enthusiasts would do well to put the past behind them and work directly with the city on creating a new park somewhere in Mountain View.