Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 24, 2014

Pump it out

Filed under: Alameda, Development, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

First victim of the Beltline Park paring down is, as suspected, the BMX Pump Track.   Last month Planning Board member Kristoffer Koster produced — pro bono — a pretty sweet, if not parking intensive draft plan for the Beltline Park.  Despite the number of proponents of the Pump Track that came out to the Planning Board to talk about what a positive addition the Pump Track would make to that park, it was axed by the Rec and Park Commission earlier this month.

The Pump Track was actually one of the things that made this park a little different and “special.”   Not that I had any intention of using it but thought it would make a great addition to the park an provide a space for kids to test out some biking skills in a safe environment that was pretty easy to get to.   That’s what makes this particular parcel so desirable because it’s so easily accessible by all forms of transportation that it can be used by so many Alamedans.

According to the coordinator of the pump track project, here could be the reason why the pump track was removed:

I have been told that the Rec & Park will recommend that the pump track be removed from the plans. There has been some push-back from people influential to the planning, that the pump track is not consistent with open space and natural areas.

So I did a little research on natural pump tracks and found a few example that would blend pretty well into “open space” and “natural areas.”

Coed Llandegla in North Wales

604 Pump Track in North Surrey (this one actually doesn’t look a whole lot different than the Belt Line looks right now.

Chalet View Pump Track

I hoping the some other body might reconsider adding back in the pump track.  It looks like it’s a lot of fun for and can provide some much needed non-organized recreation for kids (and adults).



  1. Just my opinion, but when everything is thrown into the kitchen sink, there’s bound to be something thrown out. This type of activity looks more like organized recreation for kids that requires supervision (on-site monitoring) and on-going maintenance.

    Comment by Basel — January 24, 2014 @ 6:29 am

  2. So much wasted breath. Absent a new tax or a significant rationaliztion of public safety contracts, this space remains a weedy lot.

    Comment by dave — January 24, 2014 @ 7:52 am

  3. Another thing that needs to be thrown out is the 100 parking spaces. Half that amount seems reasonable.

    Comment by Kristen — January 24, 2014 @ 8:35 am

  4. No to the pump track. Many more people could enjoy nature without it. Agree with Kristen, even 50 parking spaces seems too much.

    Comment by maria — January 24, 2014 @ 8:59 am

  5. The policy makers and supporters need to understand the difference between “Jean Sweeney Open Space” and “Jean Sweeney’s Open Space”.

    Comment by notadave — January 24, 2014 @ 9:05 am

  6. dave: you’re right about no funding for more manicured areas and the creation of man-made ponds, but it looks like a lot of the more natural pump tracks involve pushing around a lot of dirt and moving plants. I think this is one project — like the community garden — that could be successfully fundraised with small donations and a lot of volunteer labor if allowed to move forward.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 24, 2014 @ 9:17 am

  7. and if someone approach the promoters of Monster Jam or similar events at the Coliseum for dirt after their events I am sure they will be glad to give away their dirt.

    Comment by Frank — January 24, 2014 @ 10:20 am

  8. In my personal opinion, it’s good the pump track is out, and also good the bicycle skills trail is still in. This is more in line with the wishes expressed at the public input meetings. It is a weedy lot now, and the weeds removed at the work day last weekend will come right back, if there is no ongoing maintenance. There are, however, quite a few native-to-Alameda plants in the preserve, including over 70 native Coast Live Oaks, ranging in size from very small to mature. These can be preserved, and their growth enabled by some careful pruning of non-natives. One of this space’s greatest assets is nothing, empty-ness, quietude; in particular, it is very quiet in the center, a refuge from traffic, horns, sirens, leaf blowers, and the like. Over time (think 10-15 years) the preserve can become an attractive quiet park and reminder of what Alameda might have looked like 200 years ago. The Ulistac Natural Area in Santa Clara provides a good model of what can be done with a weedy lot, some volunteers, and a few grants. Their brochure is at the link below.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — January 24, 2014 @ 11:28 am

  9. I’m the guy who’s been organizing local trail users and mountain bikers to support the off-road bicycle skills trail and the pump track at JSOSP. Overjoyed to hear that Lauren has been paying attention to this!
    We have an informal group “Jean Sweeney Park Trail Stewards” that is working to get Alamedans involved in guiding the trail planning, construction and fundraising for the trails.
    Join us on Facebook:
    or send me an email (athies at yahoo dot com) to get on our mailing list.

    I think that not approving the pump track was a mistake. It would occupy a mere 10,000 square feet (compare that to the ~120,000 – 150,000 sq ft that has been allocated for parking), be made out of dirt, and landscaped to blend into the natural areas. It would be a social area for the people who want to ride the trails, and be especially accessible to many local residents. As just a small, curvy trail itself, the pump track would be part of the total trail design. Contrary to Basel’s statement that it requires organized use and supervision, the truth is just the opposite. A pump track is a safe practice place to use at any time by anyone without organized supervision. There’s no jumps, racing or organized events involved.
    My full comments can be found here in the meeting video:
    Skip to 1:14:20

    Particularly dismaying is Bill Delaney’s statement (see 1:26:00) that he thinks a pump track is not appropriate because there may be noise (kids yelling in joy, OMG!) and that it would encourage undesirable youth to gather using “alternative transportation vehicles”, which is a really nasty thing that they *don’t* want. Noise levels and “congestion” and all that. So it’s OK for 180 cars to be parked there to attend a wedding in the gazebo but not for a group of kids to gather and ride bikes. It really also bothered me that the Commission used the argument that biking on a pump track is an “active” activity and shouldn’t be allowed because it isn’t “passive”. The problem is that the terms “active” and “passive” in relation to JSOSP have not been formally defined in any written form for the public to understand. How is biking a pump track more active than commuting by bike across the park or meeting your friends to play frisbee on the lawn? Basically Mr. Delaney (& Mr. Restagno) gave those terms his own definition based on conversations he’s had in the past, but which occur nowhere on any public record or document, and used them to justify the pump track’s removal.

    Losing the pump track in JSOSP was disappointing, but it was a small failure compared to the two big victories that we have achieved:

    1) the off-road “bicycle skills track” was approved. WOW! Essentially, this will be a dirt singletrack (narrow width) undulating and meandering trail loop that will be 1/2 to 1 mile in length and will contain all kinds of special biking skills elements: rollers, berms, rock/log drops, choke points, log rides, rock gardens, rollovers, ladders and skinnies. Basically all the things you’d find on a difficult singletrack trail and more. I personally don’t know of any Bay Area park that has such a course and getting it into the approved plan is a victory.
    2) the Rec & Park Commission, while rejecting a pump track here, acknowledged that there is a great community need for it. They said that they support a bike park in Alameda, they said that they think it should be built on Alameda Point. We will pursue this. Of the 10 written comments that were submitted about the plan, 8 of them were written solely in support of the pump track and biking skills course. Only 1 written comment was in opposition. The desire is there and we will not let them forget that all 5 of the commissioners expressed their support for a bike park in Alameda Point, as well as by 80% of the written commenters. This is big victory because I don’t believe that the Rec & Park in Alameda has ever had this discussion, let alone said that a bike park is something the city needs.

    @dave They can’t seek the funding, grants, etc, until they decide what the park will contain and determine what the costs will be. Finding funding for the initial soil remediation will be difficult, but once that’s done, a lot of initial things can be made at less expense and with local fundraising and volunteer labor, such as the community garden and the dirt trail system.

    Comment by Aaron Thies — January 24, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

  10. I am a huge fan of pump tracks. I think they are great places for parents to gather with their kids. I grew up in the Bay Area and currently I live in Marin but I have a new job very close to Alameda and my coworkers live there. So I respect the culture of Alameda and don’t want to appear to be meddling in the affairs of the island. However, I have started a non profit to build and maintain pump tracks for the absolute minimum cost. If the pump track is saved or if the citizens of Alameda approve a pump track I would offer to maintain it for free, as long as permission could be secured from the local government agencies.

    Comment by Davey Simon — January 26, 2014 @ 7:19 pm

  11. I don’t really care one way or another about the pump track. I do think the parking should stay the same if you want people to use the park. No one walks to parks anymore unless you live next to it. We live in a society were people drive to go walk…and that will not change. I can’t walk my dogs over there because at Alameda College there are to many ground squirrels…and they go crazy. The last time we walked past there I had to drag one on his leash and carry the other one. If I go to this new beltway park I am going to drive. I can’t drag or carry dogs…it is not good for them and certainly not good for me. They already have a pump track by the base and it is not really utilized on weekdays. To be realistic I am not going to walk to the park…I am going to drive…so there needs to be parking. There are so many parks now which need maintaining where are the volunteers. Look at the land by the tunnel it was landscaped at one time but now it is all weeds and trash..

    Comment by Joe — January 29, 2014 @ 8:14 am

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