LAFAYETTE -- A much-debated BMX bike park for residents of Lamorinda and beyond is receiving additional City Council scrutiny as it inches toward becoming reality.
Officials decided this week to revisit plans for a nearly-2-acre bike park at the southern end of the Lafayette Community Park before the project heads to the planning commission later this spring for a development permit approval.
The additional scrutiny will allow some city leaders a closer look at the 1.8-acre park planned for a grassy hillside. First-term Councilwoman Traci Reilly had expressed unease about not being familiar with the project, and said she'd like to see it come back to the council before proceeding.
"I'm a little concerned about pushing this issue forward without having a little more robust discussion about is this where we want to spend our money," Reilly said. "Is this the priority now?"
City leaders also heard an update Monday on budget, timeline and maintenance requirements. According to a report by Park, Trails and Recreation Director Jennifer Russell, the project's cost has climbed steadily since the council decided to set aside space for the BMX park in 2008.
Back then, staffers estimated the bike park would cost about $105,000, which would be paid with park surplus and regional Measure WW funds.
By July 2011, that amount had tripled. Park staff then asked the council to approve an additional $25,800 for environmental studies after a report of a previously documented sighting of an endangered frog species living in nearby Las Trampas Creek surfaced.
The estimated total is now $341,617, after a $19,391 budget increase due to inflation, development application requirements and the cost of additional grading and drainage plans for the site, according to the report.
The park will also require 10 hours of maintenance per week at a cost of $4,000 to $5,000 per year. The park would be in use between April and October.
Former resident April Sommer questioned those costs, arguing a 1.6-acre bike park in San Jose had ended up costing more than $1 million to build and $30,000 a year in maintenance. San Jose city officials said the bike park's construction costs totaled $566,000, with an overall budget of $975,000.
Sommer also touched on safety issues, saying Pleasanton officials had passed a special ordinance to ticket riders not wearing helmets at that city's bike facility.
Four other residents challenged the park's location near an environmentally sensitive area and complained about its visibility. They also raised safety questions about questioned community support for the project and asked whether a more suitable location could be found.
Supporters ranged from children eager to ride to parents and a middle school teacher who described fighting traffic to get kids to a Pleasanton BMX park.
A Lafayette bike park can "cross generations," said supporter Mike La Rotonda. "It is something that people will use. It is something that can be family oriented."