Concerns voiced by Gilbert residents over a proposed BMX complex at a recent open house has led the Town Council to put off making a decision on the multi-million-dollar project. Even with the delay, the organization involved in the project is willing to wait for a decision from council members.
The project in question is the construction of a new home for locally-based USA BMX that would feature a hall of fame, museum, business office, BMX course and bike park located near Greenfield and Germann roads and close to SanTan Village Mall. If built, the BMX course, which would include a 4,000-seat arena, would host four large scale national events a year.
A vote by the Gilbert Town Council to approve or reject the project was set for April 17, but a recent Town Hall meeting on April 8 persuaded officials to wait on the vote. Gilbert spokesperson Dana Berchman said in an email the town is compiling the feedback it received from the meeting and added any ensuing steps, including if or when the project appears on an agenda, belong to the Town Council. She added there are no plans to host a third town hall meeting about the BMX complex.
According to ABC15.com, the meeting — the second to address the topic in the last month — included concerns from audience members about traffic problems from an already busy section of Gilbert and noise coming from events at the complex.
Both issues were addressed at the first town hall meeting in March, but something emphasized at the April meeting was the project’s expense, in particular the town’s contribution to it. The total cost to build the complex is estimated at $20 million, and the town would pay for at least $15 million up front to cover the expenses through bonds or money in reserve or parks funds.
Town residents expressed a wish for those funds go to different projects, although Gilbert Economic Development Director Dan Henderson said the town will receive the money back in the long run. In a previous interview, Henderson said USA BMX will reimburse the town through lease payments over a 30-year period, and the agreement comes with a stipulation based on the growth of the facility’s popularity.
If the complex comes to fruition, USA BMX has to fill a certain number of hotel rooms every year over the course of the 30-year lease. Years one through 10 require 3,500 rooms per year; years 11 through 20 require 4,000 rooms per year; and the requirement for the last 10-year stretch is 4,500 rooms.
The purpose is to recoup the expenses through sales and bed taxes, which total 4.5 percent per room, and USA BMX would reimburse the town for the missing room taxes if those objectives aren’t hit.
The caveats serve as protection for the town’s funding and served as a motivation for pursuing a project that offers several economic benefits that USA BMX Chief Executive Officer B.A. Anderson said could be more than expected.
“They were very conservative,” he said.
Anderson emphasized a couple of other possible benefits the facility could bring, among them a number of BMX riders who would move to Gilbert to train at the complex and free access to the bike park for Gilbert residents. He also downplayed the focus on the four major events it would host per year, saying usage of the facility would occur on a daily basis.
Although USA BMX had other options for places to build, Anderson said it will hold off on any decision to relocate until the Town Council addresses the project.
“We will give them an opportunity to go to council to say yea or nay,” he said.
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