Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What I would have said.

Last night I went to the Virginia Beach City Council meeting to show support for funding on the expansion of the bike race course/track at the Sportsplex. I think it was great for many riders and racers to show up from many different teams. Tom Coghill from TBA spoke on behalf of the riders. I appreciate all the work that man has done for cycling in this region. Tom is very passionate about this stuff and I fully agree with some of his reasons to get this track built. At some point, though, I felt embarrassed for being there in support of this. Here's what was said:

  • Too many cyclist get hit by vehicles in the City of Virginia Beach.
  • Too many health issues are related to sedentary lifestyles and these can be fixed by suppling a safe location for young cyclist to get into the sport.
  • The City spends too much money on things that are truly unimportant.
At the point that Tom seemed to be personally attacking the Council members was the point that I started to feel uncomfortable. I love the City of Virgina Beach. I like the fact that we are expanding a large Town Center and attracting larger hotels and businesses to our oceanfront. I have no desire to live in small town USA and am excited about the growth of our city. So I agree that the council spends a lot of money to try and increase the status of the city. But whats unimportant to us could be vitally important to another citizen. Tom mentioned many city projects that were a waste of money..but maybe they are a waste to Tom only. If the city wanted to build a stadium used exclusively for ping pong many cyclist would cry out saying it was a waste of money...but what if your life was focused around ping pong. There are many citizens who feel $350,000 spent on a bike course is a waste of money. Actually if you took a pole, more citizens of the Beach would probably vote against it then for it. So trying to shame the council into excepting it was not what I would have done.

What I would have said:
  • According to USA Cycling there are 7 cycling teams who list Virginia Beach as their home location.
  • In 2007 there were 40+ races (including training races) in the state of Virginia, 0 of them were held in Virginia Beach. Which means all 7 of those local teams left the city and spent their money somewhere else each weekend.
  • In 2008 after the crit course was built at the Sportsplex, over 20 races will be held in Virgina Beach (including training races). Which means the other 27 teams that call Virginia their home will come into the City of Virginia Beach and spend their money here.
  • Of those 7 teams that call Virgina Beach home, think about the number of riders those teams represent and think of the businesses in which support those teams. I don't have specific figures on this but if we compiled a list of Virginia Beach based businesses who would love to see riders wearing their logos locally, we would probably have a very influential list.
So although I appreciate the effort of those who spoke, I just don't agree with the tactics. There were many angry citizens who did nothing but criticize the Council and I felt we were not very disconnected from those individuals.

I know what some of you are thinking and I agree. I don't have room to talk because I did not speak at the meeting. I was there in a support role and didn't even think about talking. This is me simply being the Wednesday quarterback.

But anyway we had a pretty good showing and only time will tell what will happen. Council Woman Hennely stated the project is still in the planning phase and that is why it seems like nothing has happened. Many cuts have been made to City projects and I probably wouldn't hold my breathe for this to happen soon.

Thanks for all who come out.
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