On the move
Lack of funds stall BMX group’s relocation, potential expansion
Vince Enserro views BMX racing as an alternative physical outlet for kids who aren’t interested in the high-pressure pursuits of youth football, basketball, baseball and soccer. Some kids are serious racers, while many others just want to hit dirt jumps and speed around burmed turns for fun, and both types of riders are welcome at the Silver Dollar BMX track in south Chico.
“It’s a sport for those kids who don’t play ball sports,” he said. “You can go ride around the track for fun and nobody’s going to say you can’t be out there. That’s the cool part about it. It’s kind of a hidden treasure.”
Enserro is president of the Silver Dollar BMX board of directors, a nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers, and he acknowledges he probably wouldn’t know about the track off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway if his son, Evan, hadn’t gotten into competitive bike racing about six years ago. (Speaking of serious racers, Evan will compete in the UCI BMX World Championships in July.) But Enserro has come to believe the BMX track is an important community gathering place, and wants to preserve that aspect of the facility when it moves across town.
The Jesus Center’s relocation and homeless-services expansion project—called the Renewal Center—eventually will force the biking group to move to an 8-acre, city-owned parcel at 1550 Marauder St., near the Chico Municipal Airport. The City Council has approved two extensions on Silver Dollar BMX’s lease at its current location, most recently on Tuesday, April 16, when the panel voted unanimously to move the termination date from April 30 to Oct. 31.
City Manager Mark Orme told the council that city staff is still working on an environmental impact report for the Marauder Street site, and that postponing the move will not interfere with progress on the Renewal Center. Additionally, the latest extension will give Silver Dollar BMX more time to raise the money to build a new facility.
“They just want a home,” Orme said, “and this will allow us to continue to work on that new home.”
Paying for the project is the big holdup. “The scary piece of the puzzle is that I have no idea where the money is going to come from,” Enserro said. “I’ve been honest with the city from day one—we don’t have the money.”
He said the projected $500,000 cost of building the new track is well beyond the means of an organization with an annual operating budget of about $20,000, and he personally doesn’t have experience with major fundraising efforts.
“The problem is that we can’t take any of it with us, you know? You can’t take the restrooms, the concrete hill, the asphalt turns—things that cost a ton of money in the first place,” he said. “The only things we can take are some shade structures, the [hydraulic starting] gate and some timing lights. … We’ve pretty much got to start from scratch.”
Laura Cootsona, executive director of the Jesus Center, told the CN&R via email that Silver Dollar BMX won’t face the daunting task of raising half a million dollars alone.
“Vince and I have a great relationship and our projects are intricately intertwined,” she wrote. “I trust the resources are in the community to bring about the ends we seek. I have offered to help and so has the city.”
Assuming that the funding materializes, Enserro believes moving the BMX track away from the big-box stores and associated traffic congestion of south Chico will be a positive change in the long run.
“It’s going to be amazing,” he said. “The piece of property is about two times bigger than what we have now, and we’re talking about putting in two tracks.”
That would allow Silver Dollar BMX volunteers to make changes to the courses—kids get bored quickly—without totally shutting down the facility. Two tracks could also potentially attract national-level races to Chico, which would increase the nonprofit’s revenue stream many times over. In the shorter term, Enserro hopes that moving the BMX track won’t disrupt a vital outlet for kids and their parents.
“Nobody drops their kid off and comes back two hours later,” he said. “This is family time. My son is almost 15 years old, and we’re at the track four days a week. All the other families are there with their kids, cooking food or bringing food from home. It’s just a really important piece of the community.”