ATV riders eyeing condemned tract for legal racetrack

Posted: October 26, 2012

ATV RIDERS SAY that they ride in city streets and parks because they have nowhere in Philadelphia to ride legally.

But a coalition of all-terrain and dirt-bike enthusiasts is working to create a legal racetrack in Philly, eyeing the condemned 35-acre Logan Triangle tract.

If all goes smoothly, it hopes to have a deal in place by spring.

Of course, things rarely go smoothly when city government is involved, and the city owns the desolate site, where a whole neighborhood - almost 1,000 homes built decades ago atop old creekbeds filled with cinder and ash - was razed after the homes sank and shifted.

Still, Joe Thompson is optimistic. "The city of Philadelphia can't do anything with the property, because it's condemned. Developers don't want it," said Thompson, president of the ATV Coalition, a rider-advocacy group.

By creating an ATV park there, "we can generate cash from a piece of dead property," he said.

The coalition has snagged support from Yamaha and from Crossroad Powersports, an Upper Darby business that sells and services ATVs and dirt bikes, Thompson said.

Pie-in-the-sky plans include far more than an ATV track. The site ideally would offer BMX bike trails, playgrounds and fields for sports including lacrosse, Thompson said. Coalition members plan to meet next week to further hash out plans, he added.

Several Council members support an ATV park in Philadelphia but said that they'd back its location at the Logan Triangle only if the surrounding community embraces it.

The city has a market study under way - one of several done since the land was cleared in the 1980s and '90s - to suggest uses for the land. Findings aren't expected until early December, said Paul D. Chrystie, spokesman for the city's Office of Housing and Community Development. Chrystie didn't know if an ATV park is in the running there.

City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who introduced the bill establishing fines against those who ride ATVs on public property, supports an ATV park in Philadelphia. She declined to comment on the Logan Triangle site, saying that it's not her district.

It's in Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco's district.

"It is 40 feet deep . . . , so you need to have a lot of underground support to build anything on it . . . because at the end of the day it would sink again," Tasco said. "But I do think we ought to try to find someplace for the ATVs. It is a sport, and it would keep them out of the parks."


Contact Dana DiFilippo at difilid@phillynews.com or 215-854-5934. Follow her on Twitter @DanaDiFilippo. Read her blog at phillyconfidential.com.

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