PDC says BMX facility near Burnside Bridge is a no go

Posted by on April 28th, 2009 at 3:05 pm

The vacant lot at E Burnside
and 2nd that is slated
for an “interim site use” by
the PDC.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Advocates for a pump track and bike riding facility on a vacant lot adjacent to the Burnside Bridge are a bit miffed now that their idea has been scuttled by the Portland Development Commission (PDC).

There are several vacant parcels of land north of the bridge that are in line to be developed as part of the PDC’s Burnside Bridgehead project. While the project itself languishes for various reasons, there is an opportunity for a host of “interim site uses”. One of the interim uses under consideration was a bicycle pump track and skills area.

Back in February, the Portland Business Journal made it seem like a done deal when they reported that, “In the short-term, the site will be put to temporary use as a parking lot and bicycle motocross park.”

Story continues below

advertisement

I followed up with the PDC a few days later and found that it wasn’t quite in the bag. Project manager for the PDC Trang Lam, stopped short of confirming the plans but told me she liked the idea and thought it might be a good fit.

“Unfortunately the description is not accurate and we are afraid this characterization could also be very damaging.”
— Will Heiberg, on a quote by a PDC staffer about his bike park idea

Meanwhile, citizen advocates David Reese and Will Heiberg — who are working to find more spaces for BMX and bike skills areas in close-in neighborhoods — had been in communication with the Portland Parks Bureau about the site. When I followed up with Heiberg about the status of those communications, he said the Parks Bureau told him to sit back and let them handle future negotiations and discussions with the PDC.

Fast forward to an article in the Daily Journal of Commerce published on Monday (4/27) and now it seems like those discussions didn’t go quite as planned.

The DJC reported that the PDC evaluated a proposal for a “BMX bike facility for kids, but passed on the idea”. PDC project coordinator Geraldine Moyle told the DJC that “the thought of kids performing death-defying stunts on tricked-out bicycles near a construction site did not sit well.”

That quote comes as a shock to Heiberg and Reese. First, they feel it is an incorrect characterization of their proposal and second, they never said the facility would only be for kids.

“I think some wires got crossed on that one,” Heiberg said via telephone today. He feels like Moyles’ quote is inaccurate and that the characterization “could also be very damaging” to their future efforts.

Heiberg said their goal with the space was to “give people of all ages and abilities a fun and controlled environment to develop bike handling skills and gain confidence.”

Trang Lam is the PDC’s project coordinator for the interim site use. She said they decided against the kids bike skills facility because it would be right across the street from a future construction site. “It’s not a good use at this time,” she said, “we wouldn’t have any interim site uses that would bring kids to that area.”

When I asked her where she got the notion that the site would only be for kids, she said that’s all that the Parks Bureau presented to them. Lam also said that she feels the site is too small to accomodate adult riders.

Heiberg disagrees. “It’s absolutely big enough,” he says.

In the end, Heiberg said he appreciates the opportunity to work with Parks and the PDC (both of whom say they are actively looking for other sites where a bike park might fit) and he looks forward to dispelling any “mis-conceptions with the PDC and other Portland agencies” in the future.

— Learn more about pump tracks and watch a video of one in action in our previous story.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

10
Leave a Reply

avatar
10 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
markMattyKshovel weilding outlawmatt piciotrue Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
matt picio
Guest

“we wouldn’t have any interim site uses that would bring kids to that area.”

Right. Because kids never use the skate park, and never walk or skate around that immediate area.

coaster
Guest
coaster

alright kids… you want a pump track? BUILD IT YOURSELF! grab a shovel and get to it, you know that dirt lot will just sit empty for years anyhow… how do you think we got Burnside Skatepark?

Dave
Guest
Dave

The cynic in me thinks they’re probably more worried that it’ll be popular, and when they get ready to permanently develop it they’ll suddenly have a bunch of photogenic kids on the news saying “Why are they taking away our park for a shopping center? Now we’ll all have to find something else to do, like smoke crack and push little old ladies down the stairs.”

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

News flash: there are TONS of adults who ride BMX. Think this blog is directed at “kids” ?
http://teamshralp.wordpress.com/

The site is too small to accommodate adults? Just like how a 20″ BMX is “too small” for an adult, right?

Racer X
Guest
Racer X

Ok. Next site?

How about that empty gravel covered block in Vancouver next to Esther Short Park on Columbia?

I think the city parks department owns it.

true
Guest
true

What Dave said.

matt picio
Guest

I think that’s a very valid point, Dave – and that’s something the PDC can’t allow, because they have “development” in their name, and that’s synonymous in the business community with “commercial interests”. The entire Burnside “bridgehead” or whatever they want to call it is in desperate need of community space, and an honest-to-goodness PARK.

Perhaps PDC brings out the cynic in me (as my earlier sarcasm demonstrates), but there are other considerations besides commercial development, and the Eastside Warehouse District seems to be being groomed as the next Pearl. Before we start kicking the homeless out from under the end of Salmon and upending the neighborhood maybe we should start looking at ways to serve the existing community rather than pricing them out of every neighborhood in Portland.

shovel weilding outlaw
Guest
shovel weilding outlaw

Once again… try and jump through the hoops to make a legal place to ride and what happens. You call this a bike friendly town?

MattyK
Guest
MattyK

Yo, I have a pumptrack in my backyard. I’m 30 years old and it is 40′ x 25′. The proposed area is absolutely large enough for kids and adults. It is far less dangerous than the burnside skate park that sits just a stones throw away.

mark
Guest
mark

take whatever space you see sitting empty. if you can’t do it in your backyard, or even if you can, use what you find. what’s the worst they can do? fill it in? big deal, find another spot. do it again.