Volunteers Start Bikes Rolling On Parks & Rec's Bmx Track

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All it took was a few dozen doughnuts, a Boy Scout working on his Eagle Scout badge and some enthusiastic volunteers to turn a patch of dirt west of the rodeo grounds at Rumsey Park into some BMX practice jumps.

Safeway donated six cases of soda, enough to put a little jolt in the job, and Saturday's project was completed in time to put the track to the test.

Sixteen-year-old Meikle Garrett and about 25 volunteers, members of Boy Scout Troop 254 and the LDS church, brought their shovels and a Skidster borrowed from the town and built jumps in a 125-by-125-foot-square.

Garrett said he supplied the doughnuts. Some BMX bicycle riders watching the effort supplied the thrills when they tried out the newly-created mounds.

Garrett said he'll return to the site to put in the track. The Eagle Scout project should be completed by April 10, when the Town of Payson will put in the regular BMX track.

Nelson Beck, park supervisor, said the practice area Garrett is building was a part of the original plan for the bicycle moto-cross track envisioned by his department.

"It's for kids to get up to a level to build their confidence and skill levels to a point where they can use the sanctionable race course. From the town's perspective, it's a bicycle park. I have heard that there are some groups in town that intend to hold sanctionable events in the future."

Beck said he has had several phone calls from concerned neighbors in the Trailwoods subdivision. "I have assured them that it's not a motorcycle venue, that it's intended strictly for bicycles and will not create dust and noise."

One Trailwood resident, Pat Carter, a former nurse, said she is concerned with more than dust and noise. "There is a safety factor and it's a very real one. This is a real issue liability-wise."

Carter said, "I realize that young people here desperately need activities to keep them out of other less-healthy activities. It seems to me that not a lot of thought went into this."

Beck said that today's young people have a lot of different heroes, that they see other young people on TV doing these things. He said the Parks and Recreation Department is trying to satisfy the needs of the young people from pre-junior high through the high school level.

There was no formal action on the plan taken by the Town Council. Beck explained that it was a departmental decision to build the track that has a minimal cost to the town.

"We hauled in dirt donated by the Tonto Apache Tribe from the future rodeo site, and there was the cost of man-hours by the parks crew, and some time with dump trucks and loaders to move the dirt into town," he said.

At the present time, there are no signs at the site of the future bicycle moto-cross track to remind those using the berms and jumps to use caution and wear safety gear.

"It will just take one child being injured to negate all the good," Carter said. "I just worry. How would this affect the child, the family and the town of Payson?"

"We encourage anyone using these facilities to ride safe and use the proper safety equipment," Beck said.

Bob Earl, a former American Bicycle Association member, said he is proud of the town for giving the kids an alternative sports activity.

"Some of them need other athletic activities besides baseball and soccer and anyone can ride a bicycle," he said. "It's neat that the town is recognizing the kids, giving them something to do and a place to go."

Those wishing to volunteer to work with the Parks and Recreation Department building double, triple and tabletop jumps and berms can go to the site, which is west of the main recreation area, at Rumsey Park between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, April 10.

Beck is urging all parents and youth to get involved with the shaping of the BMX facility at Rumsey Park and to bring their shovels and hard rakes to help build the new youth facility.

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