A reader sent me a note in reference to a quote from David Garrick’s article in the UT. The reader wondered how it was that BMX track operator Vince McCurdy knew that “…the price tag [for building the track] would be lower because the city could use excess building materials at its public works yard for much of the project.” (Something Mr. McCurdy also referenced at the meeting on Monday, noting there was used fencing and other materials already in the City’s possession.)
We know from the ESCONDIDO BMX Facebook page of at least two meeting between the City and the BMX folks. And that is certainly allowed. I assume when it is a privately funded project on private land the process can continue for a long time without the residents being brought in to the discussion. But that is not the case with this BMX track. A private, for-profit group comes and says “We’ve got a great idea. We want the City to spend more than $100,000 to build a fenced-in BMX track on public park land. You will then lease it to us for, let’s say, 10 years at $500 a month. We will use your restrooms and parking and we’ll operate the track the days and hours we think are appropriate, charge the fees we choose and operate a concession stand from which we will keep all the profits. Do we have a deal?”
ESCONDIDO BMX (really USA BMX) started contacting the City in October of 2012. March of this year, the FB post read: Escondido BMX March 19 via mobile We had a meeting with the city manager. He commented that there are many people in the city who are very interested in this going through… Then a month later, another post: Escondido BMX shared a link. April 22 Escondido BMX update: We are preparing more information requested by the city manager.
So let’s assume that information was provided. Isn’t that about the time this idea should have been brought before the Community Services Commission? Its role is to act “in an advisory capacity to the Council, Community Services Director, and school districts in all matters pertaining to park use and development, public recreation, and the use of public park facilities by individuals, groups and those issues affecting all citizens.” Nothing was mentioned at the April 25th meeting and the Commission meeting on July 25, 2013 would have been a good place to discuss the issue. (At that meeting, Director McKinney reported that the Council’s priorities included the Grape Day Park play structure and Master Plan, the El Caballo Masterplan and the Heritage Digital Academy Charter School lease while her recreation update on sports activities at Kit Carson Park made no mention of BMX and it wasn’t put forward as a Future Agenda item. City Manager Phillips was not in attendance.)
So here’s what I don’t get. Why does someone coming in from the outside get more information about the development of City park land — and even details on the materials the City could provide — before City residents and the Commission responsible for recreation? Maybe this is the way all cities do it and I’m just totally out of touch. But it just doesn’t seem right that a group based in Arizona gets inside information on City resources to improve their proposal while also having time to gin up support from people outside of Escondido to lobby the City Council about a project we didn’t even know about.