Wednesday, May 18, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 11
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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 11th, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 11 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 23, Issue 11

Santa Maria BMX searches for new track space as lease ends

By Taylor O'Connor

Santa Maria resident Jim Folkrod’s been a part of Santa Maria BMX since its beginning 14 years ago, when he took his 4-year-old son to the track to try to the sport, he said. 

“As needs came up, I would volunteer—whether it was being a starter or a judge at the bigger races—and for the last several years I’ve been the announcer at the track. My son still rides. He’s 18 now and he coaches the younger kids here on Tuesday nights,” Folkrod said. 


UPS AND DOWNS
Community nonprofit Santa Maria BMX provides bike racing opportunities for children and youth, but volunteers are worried what will happen to the program once its lease ends in December.
COURTESY PHOTO FROM BMX FACEBOOK PAGE

Now, he’s worried about what’s going to happen to the bike racing community as Santa Maria BMX announced its lease with Elks Recreation—the organization that also oversees the Elks Rodeo—for its track will be ending in December and the nonprofit needs to find a new space, he said.

“In one way I felt horrible because the track was doing so well before the COVID shutdowns happened,” he said. “It felt like we’re just starting to get some momentum and we get this news, and it’s heartbreaking. In another sense I felt like the track would be better served in city property or private property.” 

He explained that separating from the Elks may provide more freedom with hours and scheduling, but he’s still concerned about what may happen if the organization can’t find a new space. 

“Kids who are pretty involved in the sport will now have to travel further to get to tracks. The nearest is two hours away, and for some people that’s unaffordable with gas prices,” he said. “The ridership goes up and down in waves depending on all sorts of things, but to watch for 14 years all of the family members and the benefit to these kids has been amazing.” 

Folkrod’s been contacting friends in the BMX and business communities trying to find a space for racers and families but hasn’t had any luck yet, he said. 

“We’re hopeful for another piece of land that we can build on and that will come from a philanthropic [organization], the city, or the county,” he said. 

Track Operator Jeff Tillema said Elks Recreation notified him of the lease’s termination around February and is worried about the move’s outcomes after just starting to regain traction from being shut down for all of 2020. 

“It’s like starting all over. The interest of people comes and goes, and I think it’s just hard to keep that consistency,” Tillema said. “We are trying every avenue we have, but it takes a lot of property, and we don’t know where to start with that.” 

Elks Recreation Media Director Johnna Clark said the organization’s board decided to end its lease to expand the property’s use to include more community youth programs rather than just one.

The Elks location was supposed to be a temporary for Santa Maria BMX, Clark said. While The Elks has been happy to work with BMX the past 14 years, it was time for the change in order to make the company more sustainable and beneficial for more community members, Clark explained. 

“We’re doing all we can to give them notice and letting them know we are absolutely here to help them find a permanent home. We want to help in their transition, and depending on the needs, we will be working with them in any capacity we can,” she said. “We’re proud of the program they’ve developed and we want them to continue.” 

Those who want to help Santa Maria BMX find a new property can reach out to (805) 724-2442 or visit santamariabmx.com.










Weekly Poll
What type of vegetable would you grow in a free community garden?

Brussel Sprouts, they are the best.
Broccoli because it can go with any meal.
Tomatoes, although I think those are technically a fruit.
French fries!

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