On Friday, December12, there was a bond meeting to decide if the advisory board would support the construction of a Velodrome in Tucson as part of the next bond election. Having been my first meeting on the subject, here is a one line summary. The cycling community came out in force, but we seemed very unprepared to address the questions and concerns of the advisory council. If you want a detailed summary see the blog http://bikepilgrim.com/?p=405
Based on that meeting another was set for Thursday Dec 18th to discuss how we could handle the objections brought up at the Advisory meeting. The following is a summary of what happened at the follow up meeting.
The meeting was at Perimeter Bicycling. Richard DeBernardis started the meeting with a brief history of the Velodrome from the original efforts through last weeks meeting.
The brief History
The Arizona Velodrome Association was founded by Tom Nieman(present at the meeting) and Jon Roberts. The group started looking for support in the community and were successful in raising some funds . After a few years Perimeter Bicycling was asked to get involved because they were the largest cycling organization with the most credibility. A group of 50 people from across all sections of the community were consulted and efforts were put into picking the best location that worked and getting financial backers. Canyon Ranch committed to paying 200K a year to cover sustainability, but it is likely that with the changing economy that funding is no longer available.
The perception from the community was that this was a playground for a small population of wealthy citizens who lived on the North and East side of town. When it was proposed to ask the county for funding it was clearly not going to be funded by the bond unless it drew in the youth at risk kids.
In 2008 the county decided not to have a bond election due to the economy and has not had one since. In 2008 they had 250 projects recommended for 2.5 billion. The Velodrome was put into the recreational sub-group of the bond items. When the recession came the total funding for all bonds was cut by 80% to a total of 500 million. Each month there was a meeting and every month representatives from the cycling community were present and talked on behalf of the merits of the Velodrome. Some of the largest lames cycling spoke, like Greg LeMond. There were speakers from Mexico who talked about their willingness to travel and use the facility. Representatives of the business community talked about the economic impact. All around, the cycling community did everything it should have to show the Velodrome was worthy of the Bond money.
One time the bond committee gave over an hour just to hear about the Velodrome. 18 months ago they approved putting it on the bond if it was put at Kino. However, the state of Arizona challenged how various items made the bond election. As a result, In early 2014, the bond selection committee started the process all over again and they are now looking at what projects warrant coming in.
A company called Populace was hired as a consultant to look at the development of Kino Sports complex. Populace, who built the London Olympic Velodrome said it was going to cost over 15 million based on their opinion. At the bond meeting that’s followed representatives from the cycling community did not attend as they thought the Velodrome was already an approved by the committee.
Last week, for the meeting on December 12, those in favor of the Velodrome were caught unprepared for the meeting. Not only was the velodrome no longer on the list, but the county administrators office was no longer in support. You can read the last blog post on more details of what happened.
After the meeting last week it was clear we had some issues to work out on location, funding, operating agreement and community support. In a nut shell, here is what we need to do now in order to have the best chance of getting on the Bond.
If this is to make the recommendation for the current Bond Election we need to focus on Kino Sports Complex. The challenge is the county wants an exact location within Kino, but there is an ongoing study of the best uses for Kino and until that is complete it is challenging to pick “the spot” as it is a moving target.
The other reason we are focusing on Kino is in order to sell the Velodrome to the voters it will need to be a project for the community not just an elite group who live in the Foothills.
Greg Wexler sits on the Bond Committee and said he has land that he and a partner can potentially donate near Tangerine and I-10. However, they still need to discuss this with all of their investors and can’t give a definitive answer until it is too late for the bond meeting. So even though this is an option in the future, it is off the table for now.
The community needs to show support this project. If we can’t come together as a community and say we want this, we will vote for this and we will pay to use it is not going to happen.
In order to make this as easy as possible for you, we have created a link where you can do all of this online and it will take about 90 seconds. Here is the link and I’ll post it below as well. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1-dYZtqKFdnyz_ILEUxz3HBMTN_fcW7P_RlV8plJ5AzE/viewform
(if this does not work copy and paste into your browser_
If we can get enough people to say they are willing to pay for an annual membership it will cover the sustainability issues. If you have a business or are willing to be a founding member or a sustaining member, your pledge is very important. Please note: no funds are being collected and this time and this is not binding, but it is essential that we put our intentions for using the Velodrome out there for the bond committee to clearly see.
Perimeter cycling and USA cycling are working on this part of the county’s request with the county. If you have experience in running a Velodrome or large sports facility please let us know. Otherwise, we have this part under control.
One of the concerns is will this facility be used for only an elite portion of the population. The rational of putting it at Kino Sports Complex is that it will become another place for at risk youth to go. Ignacio and Elaine both are teaching cycling to kids in our public schools. They will be working on getting letters endorsing the Velodrome from parents and kids. If you work in a school and are willing take a leadership roll in getting kids and parents to fill out the online survey or send in letters please let us know.
You can contact me if you want to be involved or fill in the online survey and make a comment about wanting to help out. The only way this stands a chance of happening is if we all do a little.
Again, Here is the link for the survey.