Snow blankets the Port Angeles BMX track at L Street and Lauridsen Boulevard near Lincoln Park on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles, BMX track operator at odds over facility

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles BMX Track in city-owned Lincoln Park should be run by a nonprofit corporation with a governing board instead of a Port Angeles native who’s been doing it for the past eight years, city officials have decided.

That’s put the current bicycle-track operator, Geri Thompson, 56, into a bind, she said Wednesday.

Thompson, who competed in BMX races before being injured, claimed the city is trying to take what she calls her business — it’s not registered with the state of Washington — away from her.

“It’s not a money-making thing,” Thompson said. “I don’t get paid to do it; I do it because I love the sport.”

She said she leases the city parks and recreation land from the city for nothing — a characterization city officials dispute — to run events sanctioned by USA-BMX, which also provides insurance.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Thompson said. “I have to talk to a lawyer.”

The track, easily visible to passing motorists, is in the southwest corner of Lincoln Park where West Lauridsen Boulevard and L Street meet just across from William R. Fairchild International Airport.

City officials last week issued a request for proposals (RFP) to run the track that would change it from being operated under the current one-year agreement with Thompson after officials “found some deficiencies within the contract,” according to the RFP.

The deficiencies in the present arrangement include the track not being run by a nonprofit, Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat said.

The RFP sets a Feb. 6 deadline for proposals and a Feb. 16 date for interviews and presentations by prospective operators.

The city council will award a new contract March 7, under which the new operator would begin running the track by Oct. 1.

Delikat acknowledged Wednesday that Thompson is upset by the move.

But he said she runs the track under a land-use agreement — not a lease — under which the property must be used for a track.

The agreement expires July 1 or can be extended by Thompson to Oct. 1, Delikat said.

“That way, the [BMX] season can be completed,” he said.

“She feels like she owns the land, but she does not. She owns a few of the buildings on that property.”

Delikat said Wednesday that the goal is to have the track operated under an agreement similar to pacts with nonprofits that cover other city facilities, such as the food bank, so that its operations are more easily and readily accountable to city officials.

He said track users also had complained about the track condition to the parks, recreation and beautification commission.

“It was just the way the track was being run compared to other cities,” Delikat said.

Thompson acknowledged that the track’s starting hill needs to be built up because it’s sinking.

Electricity needs to be supplied to buildings on the property, she said.

“Money needs to be put into it now, but I am not going to put money into it myself if the city is in control,” Thompson said.

Thompson’s family has already put $10,000 into the track “just to keep it going,” she said.

“The city has done nothing but paid the utility bill. That was the extent of it.”

She said she has installed a snack shop, an event sign-up shop and an observation tower — all removable — on the property.

City equipment was stored at the parcel until 1993, when it was built up as a track by volunteers.

Thompson is the track’s third operator, Delikat said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.