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Three-way partnership creates BMX track & park
BMX riders, from left, Dalton Melvin Allen Thompson, Scott Thompson, and Chris Westbrook talk about work that still needs to be done at the Spreckels Recreation Park track. Allen Thompson won the silver medal Saturday at the BMX competition in Atwater that was part of the 2009 Manteca Senior Games. - photo by HIME ROMERO
It looks just like a bunch of fenced in dirt but the Spreckels Recreation Park BMX track targeted for christening in the next few months is much more than that.

It is a unique partnership between the private sector, the city, and a community-based group. Without that partnership, the 10-acre site would have ended up at best a massive storm retention basin with minimal landscaping and not the site for another regulation soccer field and an American Bicycle Association sanctioned BMX track.

It also represents one more thing – arguably the last major youth or adult orientated recreational facility that will be built in Manteca for quite a long time due to the changing economy.

Manteca went from the early 1980s to almost 2000 without adding any significant community recreational facilities except for smaller neighborhood parks. In the past decade more than 120 acres of community recreation facilities have been developed including Woodward Park, the Big League Dreams sports complex, Spreckels Recreation Park, and the Tidewater Bikeway.

Restricted money will be used this year to finish the first phase of the Library Park expansion that includes a new amphitheatre and gazebo stage to complement the interactive water feature put in place last year.

“It’s pretty impressive,” noted Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford said of the BMX park project. “It is great that it was able to go so close to existing neighborhoods where kids can get easy access to use it.”

Most BMX parks are either placed on the edge of cities or in locations that are remote such as Rainbow Fields in Modesto. The Manteca BMX track is near the intersection of three major bike paths – Spreckels Park, the connection to Atherton Drive and the Tidewater – as well as being near neighborhoods and retail.

The location can’t be overemphasized. The bike path that extends south of Highway 120 to Atherton Drive and Wellington Avenue essentially provides access to the Woodward Park neighborhoods via bike paths and eventually southwest Manteca when Atherton Drive and its accompanying bike path are completed.

The Tidewater cuts through the heart of Manteca and will connect within a year or two with new neighborhoods north of Lathrop Road including Del Webb at Woodbridge where a bike path segment already is in place.

The Spreckels Park bike path extends north to Yosemite Avenue.

Improvements completed so far are a soccer field, parking lot, landscaping, fencing, walkways, irrigation, and the base work for a BMX track. A sound wall is now going up on the western edge of the park while additional fencing along the track, security lighting, and final work to make the track useable for competition is now underway.

AKF Development constructed the primary improvements and dedicated the land valued at $1 million to the city.

The construction cost under $850,000. The deal has the city reimbursing AKF $543,000 toward the improvement costs and accepting dedication and maintenance of the improved land as a city park.

Anderson 209 BMX is the group that has led efforts to design the facility is working to raise money and make final improvements to the track. They also will oversee competitions at the track.

The original deal simply called for the Spreckels Park developers to build a storm retention basin, landscape it with grass and maintain it. Unlike other storm retention basins the upkeep is part of a private landscape maintenance district that also covers improvements along the Spreckels Avenue corridor including the bike path. Property owners within the business park are assessed for the cost of upkeep.

The original delays were caused by the need to connect the storm drain with a pipe that wasn’t put in place until the Industrial Park Drive extension as completed.