A BMX and bicycle park may not happen anytime soon in Pasco County, but officials appear to be interested in seeing what can be done to bring the idea to life.
The Pasco County Commission heard a briefing on the concept at its Sept. 8 meeting.
Delaney Morrison, president of the nonprofit Ride Local Inc., outlined the vision for a new large-scale BMX (bicycle motocross) park, that she said would complement existing BMX parks in the region, would expand the area’s recreational offerings and would help to attract more tourists to Pasco County.
The idea is to partner with the county to construct a BMX track and bike park on a 23-acre tract situated of the intersection of State Road 54 and Gunn Highway in the Odessa/Trinity area. The land is presently owned by Pasco County Utilities.
Under the proposal, about 3 acres would be used for a BMX dirt race course made of various jumps and rollers.
That would mark the first stage of a larger, surrounding bike park that would include a pump track, skate park, mountain bike obstacle course, casual bike path and other features.
The proposal calls for having an open air, covered track.
“We think that this is super important here in Florida, given the heat and the rain that we have,” Delaney said. “We really think that that roof will set us apart from just having another BMX track.”
She also noted there would be opportunities for recreational leagues and a beginner’s program for newcomers to the off-road racing sport. And, the facility would host large-scale competitive events sanctioned by USA BMX.
The open space also could be used for drone races, truck rallies, and Boy Scouts of America and All-Pro Dad meet-ups, among other activities, Morrison said.
Over the past year or so, Morrison and her team have had ongoing discussions with Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey and Keith Wiley, the county’s director of parks, recreation and natural resources.
“They came to me because of my background with cycling and biking,” said Starkey, who helped to Delaney’s group find the proposed site.
It’s an excellent location, Delaney noted, because it’s along the booming State Road 54 corridor, sits along the Tower Road extension and near a future high school, whose adjacent lot could be used for overflow parking for large events.
She also noted that it’s in the middle of some huge community developments, such as Asturia and Starkey Ranch, and others being built in the area.
Plus, she said, the location also pairs well with Tampa BMX and Oldsmar BMX, which is under construction — to attract regional and national tournaments.
Commissioners appear open to the idea, but money is the biggest hurdle.
Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore, who also chairs the Tourist Development Council, said during a recent TDC meeting that the county might be able to support some type of land use or lease deal, but is not in the position to fund additional capital projects.
Moore reiterated the funding issue during the board’s Sept. 8 meeting. He said doesn’t want to give the group false hope.
But, Starkey said Delaney’s briefing was for information only, at this point.
She plans to work with Delaney’s group to explore various funding sources, including possible funding from the legislature and support from private sponsors.
Delaney said the Ride Local Inc., is looking into creative ideas, such as leveraging a corporate naming sponsorship or partnering with an electric company to install solar panels on the proposed covered roof to help offset costs.
Keith Wiley, the county’s director of parks, recreation and natural resources, said a bike park/BMX was listed as one of the highest unmet needs during workshops held to develop the county’s most recent master parks plan.
However, Wiley noted, that type of amenity was not included in the master plan and, thus, no money has been planned for that type of project.
Wiley said he likes the concept of a bike park, with a BMX track, a playground and open spaces because that would address diverse user groups.
Delaney noted BMX’s broad appeal.
“The biggest thing about BMX is that this is a family sport,” Delaney added.
“This is one of the few sports that you can do alongside your children, not just sitting on the sidelines watching them, or waiting for practice to be over.”
Adam Thomas, the county’s tourism director, said the proposed facility could help round out the county’s sports offerings.
“The TDC (Tourism Development Council) board is in full support of this. I am in full support of this,” Thomas told county commissioners.
“This is a great opportunity, for not only our citizens, but to really diversify our product as a Sports Coast, and as our destination of sports events. The economic impact is strong. The visitation is strong. You have a great partner here with Delaney. I think this is a great opportunity for us to move forward, but funding — obviously, everything comes down to funding.”
Published September 16, 2020