BMX riders are begging the Cockburn council to make plans to upgrade the crumbling BMX facility at Malabar Park next week after years of waiting and months of track shutdowns.
Eight years ago, Cockburn BMX Club submitted a proposal for a municipal upgrade of their much-loved facility to international standards. However, despite the redevelopment being approved, work has still not started.
And the council now admits it has a million-dollar problem funding the fully drafted plan for improvement.
“The cost is estimated to be $1 million over budget,” Andrew Tomlinson, City of Cockburn’s head of recreation services, told PerthNow this week, responding to questions about the delay.
Club president Leighton Pratt said riders chose to leave the Malabar track at the end of 2020 and suspend weekly races believing construction would begin in early 2021.
Nearly 18 months later, he says the club and its 130 members are desperate for authorities to deliver on their promises so they can get back to the sport they love.
“The children and parents are not only sad but also angry and annoyed at the time it has taken and the carrot that is constantly hanging in front of us,” Mr. Pratt said.
“If it takes too long to get this new facility, there is a real chance that Cockburn BMX Club will close because there has been no home for the club for more than three years. I’m not sure a club could survive that long.”
Mr. Pratt said drainage problems and deterioration of the buildings were some of the issues that led them to submit their redevelopment proposal to the city all those years ago.
“The current infrastructure is more than 30 years old, and some of the equipment, such as the starting gate, is outdated and no longer up to standards,” he said.
“We desperately need the track being built to keep our club together, to give people a place to ride, and to help the BMX sport continue to grow.”
Mr. Tomlinson said the city had completed the project’s design but ran into funding difficulties.
“Currently, the project is fully designed, but cost estimates are $1 million over budget,” said Mr. Tomlinson.
He said the club had maintained the track before they stopped racing, and as a result, there were no major problems with the way itself, just with the club’s support structures.
“Upon maintenance (before March 2020), the track was in good condition,” said Tomlinson. “The structures supporting the track – toilets, cafeteria, lighting, and parking – are in poor condition, not fit for purpose, and do not support the club in the long term.
“Then the city proposes to redevelop the site, including upgrading and reorienting the track to suit the users better and the overall drainage of the site.”
The planned redevelopment also includes a new runway ramp in line with the demands of the sport, a club room, new lighting, parking lots, a pumping track, and a playground for wider community use.
However, not all hope is lost with a report examining the $1 million deficit and considering the city’s financing options at next Thursday’s council meeting.
As for the cause of the delay in construction – apart from the now significant budget problems – Mr. Tomlinson said the site on a former landfill had also proved to be a problem.
“The site is an old municipal landfill that presents many challenges and potential risks from a structural and environmental perspective,” he said.
“The city had to spend time working with state government advisers and departments to ensure plans are in place to mitigate the potential risks of the site redevelopment.”
Mr. Pratt said the future of BMX at Cockburn is in the hands of the local government, and decisions can be made next Thursday.
“Without a track, the town of Cockburn is looking at the death of BMX in the area and the loss of a fantastic opportunity to continue BMX racing in the future,” he said.
“Without immediate intervention from the municipality, the project is meaningless because there is no longer a club to ride it.”