The Columbia County park would cost about $150,000 to $200,000 to build and would be paid for with sales tax money. (WRDW-TV / Nov. 1, 2011)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011
MARTINEZ, Ga. -- Columbia County commissioners talked recreation at Tuesday night's meeting.
About 60 people packed the commission chamber in support of a $4,800 design study for a BMX and skate park at Blanchard Park. Commissioners approved the study and gave Johnson Laschober and Associates the green light for coming up with the plans.
"This is basically our starting area," said Mitch Moon as he showed off the Augusta BMX track.
He's the track director and one of many pulling for a new facility to be built in Columbia County.
"We're building a more up-to-date track as far as competition goes for our kids and how far they want to go in the sport," explained Moon.
Bicycle Motor Cross is a growing sport that's now recognized in the Olympics. It's seen a growing following here, too.
"We've doubled our rider count in probably the last six to eight months," Moon said.
"It's an up-and-coming sport that Columbia County-ians will utilize," said Barry Smith, the Columbia County director of Community and Leisure Services.
And Smith says nearly all of the riders drive to the Augusta track from Columbia County, making Blanchard Park in Martinez a great location.
"In the master plan of Blanchard Woods Park, there was a BMX track proposed so it's nothing new to Columbia County. We've got plenty of room. There's parking there, there's restrooms there so it's a good fit," Smith said.
With 20,000 parents and kids showing up at some big-time races, organizers say it could mean good money, too.
"Economic impact, financial impact to our county, overnight stays in our hotels ... basically that's what this could develop into, regional or national championships here in Columbia County, if our facility is first class," explained Smith.
And for Moon, it's a way for kids to stay active and most importantly, have fun.
"It gives them the opportunity to get out there, get out of the house, get some actual exercise," Moon said.
"They're fired up and really ready to go with this," Smith said encouragingly.
Moon estimates some of the bigger races bring in anywhere from $3 to $4 million for the local economy in one weekend.
The park itself would cost about $150,000 to $200,000 to build and it would be paid for with sales tax money.