A big old pile of dirt and a bicycle still can bring out the kid in anyone.
Just ask David Ross. The Lawrence carpenter has a feeling that Lawrence could become a town of nac-nac’s, can-can’s and other cool sounding BMX tricks — if the city just had a track.
“I’m 32 years old and I want to start racing again,” Ross said. “It is just a great connection with childhood.”
Ross and a group of about 15 other BMX aficionados are working to form a new not-for-profit corporation in hopes of winning support to build a new BMX bicycle track — for both adults and youth — on Lawrence park land.
“What we’re trying to do is promote healthy lifestyles through bicycling,” said Ross. “BMX is really catching back on. It was big in the ’70s and ’80s and then it went through a lull, but it has caught back on fire again.”
Ross and the new group — the Lawrence Area Recreation Riders Initiative — hopes to convince city leaders to allow the group to build a $50,000 to $100,000 track on vacant city park land — perhaps near the YSI complex in southwest Lawrence or near Eagle Bend Golf Course below Clinton Lake Dam. The group’s proposal would involve the city providing the land but the group would provide all funding, including annual fundraisers to help pay the city for basic maintenance.
The idea still has multiple layers of approval it must win at City Hall. But interim Parks and Recreation Director Ernie Shaw said he’s willing to consider the proposal, as long as the group understands the city doesn’t have funding for it.
Brian Shay, a member of the BMX group who owns Lawrence Re-Cyclery, a downtown bicycle shop, said other communities have made similar ideas work. A private organization operates a BMX track on park land in Topeka, and similar arrangements exist in Raytown and Blue Springs in Missouri.
“I think we could get quite a few people to come out,” Shay said. “People in Lawrence are all about the environment and outdoor activity, and this would fit right in.”