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Remove bumps & BMX track reopens
Unauthorized improvements nullified city insurance
BMX riders may be able to access the Spreckels Park BMX track again as soon as today. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Removing a series of “bumps” that max out at two feet in height will allow the re-opening of the Spreckels Park BMX track that was chained off Monday by the City of Manteca.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin was hopeful city crews working with Jon Anderson of Anderson 209 BMX could remove the Strider track to allow the track to open as early as today. Anderson 209 BMX has contracted with the city to maintain the complex since the BMX course opened.

The issue centers around liability or more precisely improvements made to the track that haven’t been reviewed by the insurance pool authority Manteca uses to underwrite its liability insurance. Without the improvements being approved by the authority, it essentially null and voids Manteca’s insurance coverage for the entire complex. It took Manteca close to a year originally to convince the authority to insure the BMX track. It is rare for municipalities to build BMX tracks.

“The city didn’t know about it (the Strider track)” until recently McLaughlin told the council.

The Strider track is designed for youth 2 to 5 years of age. It consists of six humps that youth astride 4.5-pound bicycles without pedals “stride” over while wearing helmets. It received American Bicycle Association clearance meaning the Anderson 209 group was covered for liability. But without the improvements going through a specific process, the city’s insurance coverage is put in jeopardy. That meant if something were to happen on the course with the Strider course as it now is configured is still in place Manteca would not have insurance to cover any litigation.

“It is still a city park,” McLaughlin noted of the reason why the insurance authority criteria has to be met.

That means engineering plans will have to be drawn up, approved by proper city departments, and then pass muster with the insurance authority as well as the American Bicycle Association.

McLaughlin noted the agreement with Anderson 209 BMX requires that any improvements must first be approved by the city. The language was inserted since first and foremost the BMX track is a city park and the city wanted to make sure it could maintain insurance coverage.

BMX track users - adults and youth alike - appeared to the council during Tuesday’s meeting asking the council not to keep the track shut down.

And although the council could not take action on it since it wasn’t on the agenda, they made it clear in individual comments that they want to see the track reopened as soon as possible.

“If it can be opened tomorrow then let’s open it as soon as possible,” noted Councilman Vince Hernandez.

Councilman Steve DeBrum agreed.

“Just to be clear, this (the closing) is because there are real little humps in the middle,” DeBrum added.

Anderson noted the group put in the Strider track to get younger kids away from the main track with higher “hills” in a bid to enhance safety.

The complex itself was designed and built through a collaborative effort between the city, the non-profit and private sector developer AKF.

Mayor Willie Weatherford said he intends to appoint council members Debby Moorhead and Steve DeBrum as a liaison committee to meet regularly with the BMX group so that issues and concerns could be addressed before they became problems.

Several trees also were planted by the BMX group that McLaughlin said will have to eventually be moved to satisfy the requirements of the insurance risk pool authority.