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BMX Club still looking for land

The Fargo Area BMX Club, formerly the West Fargo BMX Association, lost its track at Elmwood Park in the fall of 2012. Fifteen months later, the club is still struggling for a place to call home.

According to club president Michelle Schatz, the nonprofit club has gone to the cities of Fargo and West Fargo, as well as each city’s park district, in an attempt to obtain a three- to five-acre lot on which to build a track for BMX racing, a sport that has been in the area for almost 20 years. So far, they have had no luck.

They also presented their case to residents of Horace, who were

eager to have a track in their area but did not have any land to provide.

Without a track for all of 2013, club members had to travel across the area to race. Club director Morgan Leiseth - who has two children in the club - traveled to Fergus Falls twice a week throughout the season, as well as a variety of places on weekends.

“Each city that I have gone to - and I have been to a lot of cities in Minnesota - has a track in a city park or is backed by its community in some way,” Leiseth said. “It is crazy how everyone is behind it there, but when we try to go up to bat for it here - mostly in Fargo - they seem kind of standoffish about it.”

According to a 2012 report from the park district, the BMX Association had actually initiated the idea of moving out of Elmwood several years ago, wanting to host large national racing events that their track could not handle. After a few multi-year stays granted by the Park Board, the district decided to part ways with the club and turn the track into a softball field.

“The placement of a BMX track is unique,” said Barb Erbstoesser, executive director of the West Fargo Park District. “With the right piece of property and right neighborhood, it could have the potential for the right fit. However, we just do not have that available.”

According to Schatz, the park district also had issues with how the track was operated under the club’s previous elected officials. She has gone to several park board meetings in an attempt to show them the club’s new direction.

“We are not a part of what was,” Schatz said. “We are excited and ready to go with something new, and we don’t want to see the sport die off in this town.”

Leiseth believes that the public thinks a BMX track is a greater financial risk than it really is, as most of the work is done by volunteers and much of the necessary funds are generated by outside means.

“With tracks like these, once you have the property, they are basically self-sufficient,” Leiseth said. “Between concessions and fundraisers, they pretty much do it all on their own. They aren’t ever begging the city or the park district for money.”

Ultimately, the club is looking for a long-term lease on land where they can build a structure. They have seen offers from private landowners, but that poses too great a risk for them in this area of change and growth, as they would have to move off the land immediately if that land were to be sold.

“We are asking for a small piece of land,” Schatz said. “All we need is access to electricity and water. If there is no electricity, we can buy a generator. We just need somebody to step up and be a hero for these kids. Not everyone can afford baseball or hockey or things like that, but most kids own a bike, and they would be welcome to come and race with us. Everybody has been saying ‘you’ll find something,’ be we have been at this for 15 months, and we just need someone to help these kids. I don’t know where we are going to go from here.”