WATSONVILLE—Soon the area’s mountain bikers and BMX riders will have a haven in the heart of the city.
The Watsonville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a deal with Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC) that will bring a pump track to Ramsay Park by year’s end.
MBOSC would cover all construction costs—thanks in part to a large anonymous donation—and then donate the track to the City, which would only be responsible for obtaining permits and project approvals as well as small landscaping efforts.
MBOSC would also be in charge of maintaining the track under the 20-year contract.
MBOSC Trails Project Manager Garret Hammack said construction on the asphalt track could begin next month and wrap up in December.
A pump track is a circuit of hills, banked turns and features designed to be ridden completely by riders “pumping”—generating momentum by up and down body movements, instead of pedaling or pushing.
MBOSC has completed three similar projects at parks in Live Oak, Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley. It also helped the pump track at Pinto Lake County Park, a project from Alex Fowler of Action Sports Construction, get across the finish line in 2018.
Because of its asphalt surface, the track will not be limited to bikes, Hammack said. Skateboards and scooters can also weave their way through the course.
The pump track will replace the old skatepark on the Harkins Slough Road side of Ramsay Park. It is designed for riders of all levels, Hammack said.
Parks and Community Services (PCS) Assistant Director Ben Heistein said the pump track is the first of many projects that the department has planned for Ramsay Park.
The Ramsay Park Master Plan, a document approved by the City Council earlier this year, detailed a roughly $21 million rebuild of the city’s largest park. Those plans included projects such as a $4.2 million expansion of the family center building that would add an indoor basketball court, and renovations to the soccer fields and softball diamond, both costing roughly $2.5 million.
“We’re hoping this will be the start of building all of it,” he said.
PCS Director Nick Calubaquib said the City would work with MBOSC and other organizations such as Ecology Action and Bike Santa Cruz County on bike safety workshops, helmet giveaways and mountain biking lessons. He also expressed interest in setting up a program to loan bikes to riders who want to experience the new pump track but can’t afford to buy their own wheels.
“I think this pump track is just the start to our endeavors of growing our biking community, and it’s a great start,” Calubaquib said.
City applying for park grants
The council also allowed staff to apply for two state grants that would fund park projects at the City Plaza and Ramsay Park.
The City plans to apply for a $3 million Park Development and Revitalization Program Grant to rebuild the City Plaza, and a $177,952 Park Per Capita Program Grant to create a dog park at Ramsay.
Both grants are a part of the $4 billion voter-approved Proposition 68, also known as the Parks, Environment and Water Bond Act of 2018.
The first grant would cover the entire proposed rebuild of the Plaza, which was approved by the City Council last year. The second grant would cover a portion of the $555,000 needed to build the dog park at Ramsay.
The City applied for a Park Development and Revitalization Program Grant last year to fund the proposed Plaza rebuild, but missed out on the $255 million allocated from the state. The state received a total of 478 applications requesting $2.3 billion last year.
Both grant applications were on the council’s consent agenda, where items that are thought to be non-controversial or routine are placed.