LAFAYETTE -- After more than four years of often heated debate, city leaders have shot down plans to build a bike park at the Lafayette Community Park.
The city council voted this week against building the proposed 1.8-acre bike park on a hillside at the south end of the community park. They also voted to remove the estimated $342,000 project from the city's multiyear Parks, Trails & Recreation capital improvement plan. The city has already spent more than $100,000 on bike park design, planning and environmental studies.
The council's decision came after almost four hours of public testimony Monday from supporters who argued for a bike park, and opponents who decried the project's cost, prospective lack of safety and the potential loss of a natural resource. Opponents also questioned future maintenance costs, including a plan to use general fund dollars for the bike park's upkeep, estimated by consultants to cost $25,000 per year.
"We're adding another infrastructure to the city and we're having trouble maintaining and paying for the infrastructure that we already have," said one resident who told the council he was not against bike parks but did not support the proposed project at its current location. "I think the biggest deterrent is how we're going to allocate our funds."
Residents also questioned characterizations of the park as geared toward mountain bikes, and argued the proposed design was more consistent with BMX parks. In a staff report, parks director Jennifer Russell said the park was considered a mountain bike park and not a BMX racing park.
The park's removal from the capital improvement plan does not mean the project is completely dead. Before joining his colleagues in voting against it, Councilman Brandt Andersson backed a bike park for what he said was an "underserved" portion of the community and suggested city leaders take another look at the project -- including potential funding from Orinda and Moraga -- at a future date.
Noting the city proposed the bike park after continually tearing down illegal BMX jumps in creeks and other locations, Mayor Mike Anderson warned more such jumps will be built.
"What I would challenge people to do is to work with us to see if there's a way to find another location, acquire more park space, do something to meet this unmet need," he said.