Sonoma County regional parks plan major upgrades at Maxwell

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Pump Vocabulary A-Z

Alligator pit: a very difficult gap that could pose a serious threat if not done properly

Barspin: a trick of throwing the handlebars in complete rotation

Biff: to wipe out or mess up

Dead sailor: a jump that goes wrong where the rider goes stiff and lands without performing a trick

Dubs: 20-inch bicycle wheels, the most common size for BMX

Gnar: anything disgusting or abhorrent

Half-pipe: a ramp resembling a half cross-section of a complete cylinder

Huck: to throw oneself haphazardly into a maneuver

OTB: over the bars

Resi: a semi-soft rubber padding put down for particularly dangerous or intricate tricks

Scorpion: a particularly nasty fall where the rider flips over the handlebars and lands on their face/chest

Shred: to ride intensely

Stoked: excited

Tailwhip: kicking the back of one’s bicycle in a complete rotation around the handlebars

Tweaked: perfect, to the fullest extent

Vert: riding on a single half-pipe where the transitions are vertical

Robert Wilson is totally stoked.

After seven years of trying, the former owner of Sonoma Old School skateboard shop on Broadway has finally secured a promise to bring a bike-riding “pump track” to town.

The Maxwell Farms Regional Park Master Plan, an ambitious, multi-phase upgrade of the existing 85-acre park, was recently released by Sonoma County Regional Parks after years of community input and planning and includes, among other things, Wilson’s dream of a pump track.

Located outside city limits on unincorporated county land owned by Regional Parks, Maxwell Park features soccer and baseball fields, tennis and volleyball courts, a playground and picnic sites, Macdougald Skateboard Park and the Sonoma Valley Boys and Girls Club, and approximately 2.5 miles of nature trails along Sonoma creek.

The new master plan, formed over the past four years with regular community input and released in November, includes a baseball plaza and upgraded ball fields — including one with lights — seating terraces that are ADA compliant, an off-leash dog area, sand volleyball courts, new soccer fields and concession stands, a “destination play area,” pickleball courts and upgraded court lighting, expanded parking, bio-swales for stormwater treatment, riparian restoration and a photovoltaic array.

And, to Wilson’s delight, recently added to the plan: a “pump track,” with viewing area.

“All of a sudden, hey! It was written into the master plan,” Wilson said.

A pump track is a type of off-road terrain for bikes consisting of a circuit of banked turns and “whoopdees,” as Wilson calls them. The features are designed to be ridden by riders “pumping,” not pedaling, creating momentum with up and down body movements.

The entire Maxwell Park project is expected to cost at least $10 million, according to Regional Parks Planning Manager Steve Ehret. Funds will be sourced from department money, state and federal grants, donations from local fundraising efforts, and the Measure M one-eighth cent sales tax, which won voter approval in the Nov. 6 election and over the next 10 years is expected to generate $115 million for public parks improvements countywide.

Wilson’s efforts to add a pump track to Maxwell Park began in 2011.

“I started pushing for a pump track years ago,” said Wilson. “I opened a dialogue with the city. They were open to it, they liked the idea, but nobody wanted the liability.”

A lifelong fan of all wheeled things — boards, blades and bikes — Wilson has long embraced his inner child. He adopted Macdougald skate park soon after its opening, volunteering to open and close the facility every day and keep it free of trash and graffitti. He kept a half-pipe skateboard ramp behind his skate shop for years, and can still manage a tidy kickflip himself. But Wilson knew there were a lot of kids who rode BMX bikes in town, and that they had nowhere legitimate to practice their sport.

“Bottom line: I knew kids were creating their own jumps behind the Boys and Girls Club,” Wilson said. “The kids make ‘em, and the county knocks ‘em down. Plus, that’s where all the homeless drink and smoke weed.”

It wasn’t an ideal situation for local children, and Wilson was determined to address it.

He made phone calls and wrote emails and held meetings, lots of meetings. He discovered why municipal governance is not known for alacrity. But Wilson stuck with it for years and years, and finally, his tenacity paid off.

Pump Vocabulary A-Z

Alligator pit: a very difficult gap that could pose a serious threat if not done properly

Barspin: a trick of throwing the handlebars in complete rotation

Biff: to wipe out or mess up

Dead sailor: a jump that goes wrong where the rider goes stiff and lands without performing a trick

Dubs: 20-inch bicycle wheels, the most common size for BMX

Gnar: anything disgusting or abhorrent

Half-pipe: a ramp resembling a half cross-section of a complete cylinder

Huck: to throw oneself haphazardly into a maneuver

OTB: over the bars

Resi: a semi-soft rubber padding put down for particularly dangerous or intricate tricks

Scorpion: a particularly nasty fall where the rider flips over the handlebars and lands on their face/chest

Shred: to ride intensely

Stoked: excited

Tailwhip: kicking the back of one’s bicycle in a complete rotation around the handlebars

Tweaked: perfect, to the fullest extent

Vert: riding on a single half-pipe where the transitions are vertical

Last week, Wilson sat down with county officials who unveiled the new draft of the master plan for Maxwell Farms. “It’s got the pump track. It’s got all kind of good stuff on it,” Wilson said happily.

Pump tracks are generally made of packed earth, but the plans at Maxwell Park call for a solid surface track.

“We’re going with a solid track for a whole host of reasons,” Ehret said. “With a dirt track, there’s erosion, and they’re only really accessible in the dry season. Also, the proposed track is positioned behind the skate park along Highway 12. It’s a very urban context, and a dirt track would not suit.”

But a hard track is considerably more expensive than one made of dirt.

Construction of a dirt pump track, said Wilson, costs typically $20,000. A solid surface track, however, can cost up to $100,000.

The pump track is identified as a Phase 2 improvement on the new master plan, and Ehret said Regional Parks has not yet targeted a start date for that phase. Phase 1, which includes baseball, soccer, restrooms, concessions, parking, play area, and trail improvements throughout the park, is expected to begin in the spring of 2019.

“Our first phase is fundraising from various sources to build the baseball field for Little League at Maxwell Park,” 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin said. “They will be losing their field at Paul’s Resort in the next year, so this is a priority and a number of groups have already made financial commitments.”

Phase 1 is expected to cost $4 million, and $1 million has already been raised, according to Ehret. The master plan and required environmental impact report were funded by earlier efforts. “(The plan) is complete and ready to move forward through the entitlement process early next year,” Gorin said.

As for Wilson and his pump track, raising the money may prove to be a “whoopdee” but it won’t be a wipeout.

“It’s about the kids. You want to give them something to do. I’m going to put my heart into it. I’ve got a new mission! Gotta raise the money for the new pump track,” he said.

Contact Kate at kate.williams@sonomanews.com.

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