Columbia bike track gets one-month reprieve BMX site closes Aug. 31 to make way for grocery

July 25, 1996|By Alex Gordon | Alex Gordon,SUN STAFF

The Columbia BMX Supertrack -- the state's only such bicycle-racing track -- has been granted a one-month reprieve by the Rouse Co., which had ordered it closed as of July 31 to make way for a 55,000-square-foot Safeway.

But patrons and the operator of the track in Columbia's Harper's Choice village don't plan to ride off quietly into the sunset.

"They are not looking out for the kids, which the track is for. They are looking out for the mighty dollar," track operator Darrin Alexander said of Rouse. "When I go out to the track, all I can think is, 'How can Rouse want to do this?' "

The quarter-mile dirt track, on which young people race single-speed, knobby-tire bicycles, is on Rouse-owned land behind the village center and has been operated rent-free under a license agreement since its creation 18 years ago.

According to Rouse Senior Vice President Alton J. Scavo, the agreement stipulates that the track site is temporary and that Rouse has the right to reclaim the land at any time to put it to "its ultimate use."

That time, Scavo said, has come.

"I am ticked that someone who has had such a generous situation would say he has been mistreated," Scavo said. "We get no joy out of closing it up, but we believe there is another use for it -- to get the village center back on track."

The decision to replace the track with a supermarket -- of which Alexander was informed in March -- was made in the interest of the ailing village center's economic viability, Scavo said.

The center has been without a supermarket since last December, when Valu Food closed. The proposed Safeway, is due to open in fall 1997. Alexander recognizes Rouse's right to reclaim the land, but laments the decision to do so. "These people have no clue how good this sport is for the kids," he said.

Wayne Christmann, general manager of Columbia's village centers, said, "We'll accommodate [the track] to the best of our ability, but eventually our relationship will have to end," Christmann said. " Aug. 31 will be the conclusion of our bTC relationship, and use of the bike track will terminate on that date."

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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