Two weeks after a portion of a bicycle track at Elvira Elementary School was bulldozed because of safety concerns, the Sunnyside Unified School District administration committed $10,000 to see it rebuilt.
This time the features of the park will be smaller and pre-approved by the district administration. The first track was built with approval of the school’s administrators, but not district officials.
“There will be some standards set for the new path based on legal council and our safety regulations,” Sunnyside public relations representative Misti Nowak said. “The cycling team will come up with a plan and they’ll submit it to the governing board. This is the part of the process that didn’t take place last time.”
Ignacio Rivera de Rosales, the Pima County’s elementary and middle school educator who was involved in building the first track, said they will work hard to create a track that is both fun and safe.
He said they wanted to find a balance “so that the elementary school kids show up on campus and go, ‘that is totally sweet,’ and they totally love riding it, but at the same time it meets the needs and responsibilities of the school district to ensure a safe playground.”
Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists vice president and Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee member Martha Lemen helped build the original track at the school near South 6th Avenue and Valencia Road. She said the the district said they could have rollers, berms, rock gardens and other features, but they have to make sure they aren’t too aggressive.
Nowak said the bicycle advocates’ passion is what caught the attention of the district superintendent Manuel L. Isquierdo.
“We are really excited to be working with a group of cycling professionals with so much experience,” Nowak said. “I think that is what really got district administration on board was their passion and the experience that each of them has.”
“I think they were surprised to learn people exist that are like us,”Lemen said. “Passionate about cycling and passionate about teaching bike skills.”
The money Isquierdo committed to the project will help fund the track’s construction and buy a fleet of bicycles for the students to use.
All of the parties say they are excited about creating something they hope can become a model for schools across the state.
“We are all super excited about developing a program that we all think is unique to school property,” Lemen said. “We are creating a model that we hope to use state-wide if not beyond.”
The group is hoping to complete a plan with specific dimensions for each feature and submit it to the district at the May school board meeting for approval.