The 2010 Elings Park Bike Festival has found new life. The annual bike race, held on the dirt trails that crisscross the park’s south section, was threatened with a complete shutdown after the county slapped the park with a lawsuit two weeks ago. While litigation continues, the temporary restraining order part of it that attempted to halt this year’s bike fest was dropped after both sides reached an agreement over the weekend. The remaining suit charges that Elings Park Foundation is in violation of its contract with the county, drafted in 1998 when the supes gave $525,000 to the Foundation using CREF funds. The park, says the county, has not honored the conditions of the contract, namely that the south park space be used for “passive recreation” and wildlife habitat only. County officials admitted that they hadn’t, for years, taken notice of the perceived violations, but that noise complaints generated around 2009’s Bike Fest spurred them to action.
Even though the bike festival — which typically draws around 500 people a year and has gone on for the past five years — will kick off on June 5, there will be a few not-so-minor tweaks to it. According to County Communications Director William Boyer, most of the event’s activities will be shifted out of the south section of Elings to the north. All staging, meaning the races’ starts and finishes, will occur in North Park, a major difference from past years. Elings also agreed to not have any kind of amplified PA system in South Park, and to limit parked cars in the area to no more than 60 at a time. Lastly, the Foundation agreed not to construct any new bike trails or improve existing trails in the park’s south area. The move north was approved by county staff because the CREF fund contract only applies to the 130-acre South Park. Boyer has said, numerous times, that if the Foundation wants to hold organized biking events in South Park, it must receive written approval from the Board of Supervisors, which it has yet to do.
“We are gratified that Elings Park and the county were able to resolve their differences about the 2010 Bicycle Festival and thankful that the many families and bicycling enthusiasts who planned to attend will be able to do so,” said park Executive Director Steen Hudson in a press release. “Elings Park recognizes that there are still disagreements between the park and the county in terms of how Elings Park South is used. We remain hopeful that those differences can be resolved through further discussion and compromise. Our goal is — and always has been — to provide wholesome outdoor recreational opportunities to the entire community. We invite everyone to visit Elings Park and see for themselves what a valuable community resource it is.”