by Denine Driggs, Gilbert Resident
This past spring the Gilbert town council seriously considered building the next USA BMX headquarters and facilities in our town. This would be a recreational area for bicycle racing. Though I am not opposed to developing a recreational area and facilities for youth and families to come and use, this proposed project, located so near a quiet residential area, causes me grave concerns. The Black Canyon BMX race track is located well away from residential areas. See No BMX in Gilbert for a photo of that desert setting.
The cost involved to us the taxpayer
The proposed project would be a "public-private partnership" between the town of Gilbert and the USA BMX Corporation at an estimated cost of $20 million. According to BMXNEWS.COM, "$3 Million coming from BMX and $17 Million coming from the town of Gilbert (whether via a bond issue or via reserve cash). See "Gilbert Pauses Plans for USA BMX Epicenter."
This project would require a substantial investment from Gilbert taxpayers when in fact only .11 percent of Gilbert residents are members of BMX. That’s one tenth of one percent of Gilbert using the facilities. Why should our taxes support a project where the benefits are so few for the citizen and yet greatly benefits a private business? And we, the taxpayer, would be responsible for the debt.
The noise and increased congestion and traffic that this would generate in our neighborhoods.
This proposed site would consist of an Olympic-size BMX track capable of hosting World Cups events and world championships. A 4,000 seat arena; 25,000 square feet office headquarters; the National BMX Museum and National BMX Hall of Fame. BMX is a worldwide organization with a membership of 70,000. Officials say there are plans for at least 50 competitions and 100 practice days per year not including fall and winter national competitions with attendance projections of 1.500 to 2,000 participants. According to John David, USA BMX’s Chief Operating Officer, "it takes the town and puts it on the the world stage. See "BMX Battle in Gilbert: Town, BMX USA Want to build track near Homes."
The impact that this would have on the value of our homes.
What effect will the noise, lighting, crowds, and traffic up and down Greenfield Road have on our property value? Events involved with BMX bike racing bring in not only members of BMX but also vendors who sell food and beverages; manufacturers who sell BMX products, such as bikes, helmets, and apparel, as well as tents and awnings for the racers and their sponsors. There will be loud sound systems announcing during the races and starting buzzers for each race. This particular venue does not fit the quiet family atmosphere that Gilbert is known for. To get the full effect of what it would sound like, click HERE for a video produced by Mike Webb.
Though the BMX discussion in the town council chambers has been temporarily tabled, this issue isn’t over. Jordan Ray, candidate for town council, has stated in the AZCentral.Com April 20, 2014 issue, "My hope is that BMX continues to have Gilbert as their number one choice. Whether it’s six months, eight months, a year out. I hope that BMX is willing to have those discussions and still make it work." Eddie Cook, also a candidate running for the council, spoke favorably for the project as a magnet that would draw thousands of people into Gilbert.
What convenient timing, right after the elections?
Note: At the recent LD12 Republican Gilbert Town Council Candidate Forum held June 12, candidates were asked if they would vote to support the funding of taxpayer dollars to these private ventures referring to forming public private partnership. Of those candidates only Victor Petersen and Jason Cvancara spoke out against the use of public funds in such costly ventures such as the BMX project.