Nothing about the demolition at Collins was mentioned
publicly until May 2, when Arnold Randall, who leads neighborhood
outreach and legacy efforts for the bid committee, told residents at a
community forum in Douglas Park that the school pool and gym would have
to come down to make way for the cycling arena.
“I couldn’t believe it when he said it,” said Reginald
Johns, a west-side resident who was at the meeting. “That’s the first
any of us heard about it. It doesn’t make sense. They just rebuilt this
gym. Why are they tearing it down?”
According to Johns and other west siders who were
there, several cycling enthusiasts were on hand to endorse the plan.
They didn’t go so far as to say it would help west siders conquer their
fears of bike riding. But they did say that thanks to the velodrome
future west siders would learn to bike ride competitively and might
even qualify for a future Olympics. Residents say there was no mention
of the velodrome being part of a multisport complex.
say they left wondering what an elite cycling facility had to do with
their community’s needs. And if the city knows it needs a bike track—or
a swimming pool—why does it need to wait for the Olympics? Why not dig
into any one of several available TIF accounts and build them on some
of the scores of empty lots in the area?
Well, to be fair, TV news will cover the Olympics and anything related to the Olympics with the breathless enthusiasm of a teenage prom date, and regular community improvements, not so much. Building a regular old bike track for regular old people, some of whom aren’t even rich or pretty, doesn’t exactly bring the cameras out, now does it?