Leadville gives motocross site the green light
LEADVILLE – The Leadville Sports Riders Club recently broke ground on a motorcycle, four-wheeler and snowmobile track on the eastern edge of the city’s airport.After months of preliminary discussions, Lake County Commissioners gave the Riders Club and its leader, Terrance McNicholas, the green light to begin the project in early July.”It went from planning, planning, planning to doing,” said Lake County Commissioner Mike Hickman. “We thought we had done enough due diligence and we felt OK to give the OK. The fact that there’s a grassroots group of volunteers willing to put in the time was a major factor.”The Riders Club was initially working with the Lake County Recreation Advisory Board on putting together a long-range plan for the project, but those discussions have broken off, according to both McNicholas and Hickman.”We decided to let them get going on a smaller scale than what they originally wanted,” Hickman said. “Right now, I refer to it as a prototype rather than an actual track. We need to see if it will work in that location.”
Safety, dust, noise, parking and overall environmental impact are among the issues that could prevent the track from opening for business.McNicholas, who’s committed to addressing every potential road block as it arises, said 70 percent of the track has already been built. “There’s about six of us who have probably put in 100 volunteer hours each so far,” McNicholas said. “We’re almost done with phase 1.”Phase 1, which would include the completion of the first track section, is on hold until suitable soil arrives.”The current dirt is too dusty too ride on,” McNicholas explained. “We’re going to have to cap it with 6 inches of dirt from the Parkville Water District.”
If the said earth tests negative for contamination, it will be transported to the track, according to Hickman.The Lake County Road and Bridge department has volunteered its time and equipment, including excavators, loaders and dump trucks, to the cause.”I want to give people in Lake County something to do,” said Brad Palmer, the county’s Road and Bridge director. “There are lots of people riding on vacant lots and vacant land – let’s bring them to a structured race area where we can attract national events.”Hickman compared the current moto/snocross track movement to the rodeo revitalization that took place in Leadville about three years ago.”The rodeo was dysfunctional with no facilities or equipment,” Hickman recalled. “Fifteen or 20 volunteers helped make it into a tremendous success. Now it’s a certified professional event that’s become a large part of Boom Days.”
Hickman said the county chipped in $3,000 for rodeo gates that year, but its overall financial contribution was relatively small.Same goes for the moto/snocross track.”If we’ve spent $5,000 [mostly on metal and plastic fencing]on this so far, I would be surprised,” Hickman said. “We’re not going to stick our neck out and spend $100,000 on bleachers because we don’t believe that if we build it, they will come. I believe it will succeed, but I want to see it happen.”McNicholas said the second phase of the project will involve completing the track and widening the access road, while the third will include creating parking and camping areas. McNicholas envisions the final product encompassing about 50 acres – that’s if all goes according to the Riders Club’s plans. And if not, the land “could be converted back into what it was before,” explained Hickman. “Which was nothing. It was bare ground.”
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