Following a unanimous decision by the Cottage Grove City Council during the June 13 meeting, the BMX bike course that once sat on Row River Road will return to its original site. The new track will be available to the surrounding community for recreational and competitive purposes.
A local group called Row River BMX will head up the project and partner with USA BMX, a 45-year-old corporation that organizes races and helps build tracks through the United States. They are the world’s oldest sanctioning body for BMX racing.
“USA BMX and the USA BMX Foundation fully support the construction of a USA BMX Track in Cottage Grove, OR,” the organization said in a letter to the city council. “Upon the completion of the BMX track, USA BMX will support with full sanction status, local program creation, and event scheduling.”
The original track property sat in front of the Row River Water Treatment Plant. Members of Row River BMX will build at the former sight that was once operated by the Todd Kephart Memorial Association and the Cottage Grove BMX Association.
“The Todd Kephart memorial started back in 1982 (the year of his passing), that’s when they originally had this vision for a track. The town knew the vision and wanted to keep that dream alive of building that BMX track. It caught fire when he passed away, the entire town rallied together to build that track, it was completed in 1984,” said Row River BMX committee member, Kimberly Green.
“Before they (the city council) voted, they stopped and said thank you. One said they were really grateful we were continuing on the Todd Kephart Memorial aspect,” said Joelene Piper. “It was very heartfelt,” added Joey Green.
The original track operated for 30 years. In 2014, after upkeep issues arose, it stopped being used for sanctioned races and was torn down a few years after that. Row River BMX will manage the new facility moving forward.
“I am very excited for the track to return to Cottage Grove. I used to ride it when I was younger, I find it very fun,” said Zane Piper, currently age 12 and was four years old when he rode the original track.
The next step for Row River BMX will be to officially acquire a non-profit status, then raising the funds needed for the project will begin. “It’s kind of a litigious process where we have to file lots of paper work. We’re hoping we can get it going fairly quickly,” said Jim Piper.
“The budgeted start-up cost to design, layout, build, and initially maintain the Row River BMX facility is estimated at $350,000 to $400,00,” according to the business plan from USA BMX and Row River BMX.
“Unlike many local sports facilities, all USA BMX tracks have the ability to host State, Regional, and National level competitions that can bring millions of dollars in direct revenue and taxes to the community in just one large event. This return can be compounded if large events are hosted annually,” the business plan given to the city council suggested.
In the past three years BMX is the fastest developing sport in the United States, having grown by 13.3 percent. USA BMX has Cottage Grove scheduled to host their first State Championship during the second year of the track’s operations, meaning we will see the event as soon as 2023 or 2024, depending on the construction completion of the facility.
Originally having hoped to have the track open by the end of this summer, Row River BMX recognizes the challenges in front of them.
“It’s going to depend on the steps we have to take. We aren’t going to put a date on it at this point. We’re going to approach it one step at a time to make sure everything is done right,” said Courtney Kelley.
Anyone that would like to partner or help financially with Row River BMX is encouraged to reach out via Facebook Messenger on the official “Row River BMX” Facebook page or by E-mail at [email protected]