Tanglewood to host national BMX event

Published 12:10 am Thursday, February 28, 2019

Funding request would help with track improvements

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

While Tanglewood Business Park again remained one of the hot topics, another part of the actual park, the BMX track at Tanglewood, shared the spotlight in Monday night’s Village Council meeting.

A presentation on the BMX track, which included possible funding for track improvements, included an announcement that Tanglewood would serve as the host of the Gold Cup Finals Southeast Sept. 27-29.

In her marketing/communications report, Shannon Ford said this kind of event seemed to be a good fit for consideration from the Village’s occupancy tax fund for the group’s money request of $4,500 as those speaking on behalf of the Tanglewood BMX said that one of the national bike races coming here could have an economic impact of more than $620,000.

“When we talked about the Gold Cup Finals coming, it seemed like a perfect match for our restricted occupancy tax fund, which requires some overnight stays and things like that,” Ford said. “They have also had a partnership with Visit Winston-Salem, which tourism funds are also used for that.”

Although most of the council members seemed to be in favor of moving forward with the request, but councilman Mike Combest wanted to take a couple of weeks to look at the numbers and make sure people attending would be staying in Clemmons.

“I’d like to hear from our hoteliers and restaurateurs,” Combest said. “I know this is a blanket statement, but my experience in talking to them is that most often our expectations of a night’s stay are not met.”

So, the item will now return to the agenda for the March 11 regular meeting. In between now and then, the council announced plans to have a special council work session meeting on Tanglewood Business Park Monday, March 4, at 6 p.m. The public is invited to attend with a Q&A planned after the session.

That meeting is expected to include Dudley Watts, Forsyth County manager, and Kyle Haney, an economic development specialist for the county.

Combest said, “We are working hard for the right progress. All the development at Tanglewood corner will be profitable and compatible with the character of neighboring communities, both residential and commercial. That’s always been our objective and our goal from the start. To achieve that, that means the nature of the development and the timing of the development have to be right.

“My sense is that we are closer than we’ve ever been to achieving that. I just offer you one caution. There’s always a hazard and a danger of mistaking some progress for sufficient progress. We are absolutely committed to get the right amount of the right progress. To help ensure we do that, I would ask all the folks involved in this to just stay skeptical.”

That was again the case in Monday night’s meeting when several residents of Clemmons West again voiced their concerns on the project on Idols Road.

“The more I look at this thing, the more I see like, here’s a rock, here’s a hard place, and here’s you guys right here in between,” said Mark Beckmann, who added that a petition has been circulated with more than 400 signatures in opposition to the park.

Andrew Wild said that the question he’d like to ask is not just if this a good investment, “but the better one would be ‘is this the best investment we can make?’ ” He added if Clemmons did contribute financially to the development of the park, “what does that mean we’re saying no to?”

Councilwoman Michelle Barson said that Monday night’s special council work session would be an opportunity for residents to bring the community up to date on what has transpired over recent months as Clemmons and the county have held multiple discussions regarding the park.

“There has been a lot of confusion and questions,” Barson said. “That’s not anyone’s fault, but the county, quite frankly, there’s been a lot of twists and turns, but they’ve been more focused and have something solid to present.”

As for the BMX proposal, Braden Romer, who is president of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County BMX Parents Association, said that the $4,500 request being sought from the Village would go toward buying a product called Soiltac that gets sprayed on the dirt and helps eliminate the runoff and water absorption into the ground — a key ingredient to help the races go on with all the rain of late.

“When we’re looking at bigger events like this, we don’t have to worry about the weather delays or having to cancel events altogether, which would be a big loss for the community and the track itself,” said Romer, who added the last regional race here in 2013 had an estimated local economic impact of $750,000.

He said having Soiltac could allow the track to stay open year-round. It has been closed since November and is expected to open sometime in March.

Five individuals spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting as proponents of the Tanglewood BMX track and how financial support could help with improvements for the family-friendly sport and allow the local facility to have more events and bring more people into the community.

Councilman Chris Wrights said since the occupancy tax can only be spent to promote tourism, “and this is going to bring in a couple of thousand people for an event, we don’t have a lot of tourism-attracting things in Clemmons, I think this is a great use for the money.”

Mayor John Wait said he heard from one of the local hotels recently that this money wasn’t being used enough, and he also asked that since this property is actually owned by the county that a partnership there could be a possibility to further help the cause for the 33-year-old track.

Romer said that the track primarily relies on volunteer contributions and doesn’t receive any direct funding from any source, including the county.

“But they still charge $2 for every person that comes to race at the track,” Wrights said.

“They also charge them to rent the track on an annual basis,” Ford added.

Romer said there had been ongoing conversations with some of the respective parties in the county, but the long-standing discussions have been with Forsyth County Parks and Recreation. He said it may be time “to escalate above that a little bit” in order for something to change.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Combest said. “My instinct is this is a great investment and hearing that, my instinct is also we might be the ones to prime the pump. But unless there is some urgency that I can’t see, it just seems prudent to me to hear from our hoteliers and restaurateurs to understand how big the bang is going to be for this for the folks who reap most of the harvest.”

Discussions also continued from the previous meeting on the safety concerns over students parking across the street from West Forsyth High School and crossing four lanes of traffic on Lewisville-Clemmons Road. Much of that has been the result of students now parking at Friends Baptist Church, which is on the opposite side of the street from the school.

Village Manager Scott Buffkin said that Sgt. Brian Gieger set up a meeting at West with its school resource officer and an assistant principal who is in charge of parking.

“I would say that the folks at the school are very aware of the situation and share our concern,” Buffkin said. “Right now, we’re trying to set up a meeting of all involved — the folks at Friends Baptist Church, perhaps River Oaks Community Church, myself, Sgt. Gieger and the director of security with Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, basically just trying to brainstorm anything and everything with the main goal to make it safer for all involved.”

River Oaks Community Church, which is on the same side of the street as West, allowed students to park there for the past nine years but discontinued it because of a number of incidents and safety concerns, and knowing it was the preference of the school for students to park on school property.

However, Anthony Wild, executive pastor at River Oaks who also spoke during the public comments part of the meeting, said his church would be willing for the school to “annex” its lot on weekdays for student parking if the school could monitor it.

The council agreed by consensus to address the situation, hopefully in the next regular meeting on March 11, with some concrete action items for an immediate short-term solution while working on longer-term solutions.

Among other business items, the council:

• Received an update on a pavement condition survey from Steve Lander, PE, from The Kercher Group on a possible “analytical tool for a long-term approach to paving management.” He said the software used is “always looking for low cost and high benefit.” In the past, the Village has used a ranking system for roads of doing “the worst first.” Public Works Director Mike Gunnell said that this system could allow Clemmons to “more efficiently use our money and extend the life of the streets we have and perhaps catch us back up some.” Buffkin said there is money in this year’s fiscal budget to cover the cost if the council wanted to proceed, and Gunnell said he would love to get something done this spring if possible.

• Also heard from Buffkin with a library update that the county will be rebidding the project this week and that the county could hopefully then be able to grant the contractor at risk to begin construction, “but that’s an ‘if’ at this point.” He added that naming rights of several rooms totaling $75,000 had been received to date and that naming rights for other rooms are still available.

• Heard from planner Megan Ledbetter on the Planning Board reviewing a draft of the Comprehensive Plan on Feb. 19 and received some comments from the audience about some land-use plan amendments, and so the board continued the public hearing to their March meeting to revisit those issues.

• Approved closed session minutes relating to the Conciliation Agreement signed Jan. 28, 2019.