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Santa Clara BMX Track Set to Reopen

Santa Clara Police Activities League (PAL) says it will reopen the City’s BMX track on May 31.

In a press release sent to The Weekly exactly one day before the Santa Clara City Council was set to decide whether or not to remove PAL as the track manager, the nonprofit announced it had acquired the necessary insurance and approval from the City.

“The primary focus of PAL has to get this track open ASAP for the kids,” said Mike Walke, President of Santa Clara PAL Executive Committee in the statement. “We have been working day and night to obtain insurance and City approval and we are thrilled to announce this track is reopening next Tuesday so riders can get back on their bikes.”

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PAL says it has “experienced new management” in place to assume track operations. However, when The Weekly reached out to PAL’s public relations manager for more details including the name of the new management team, we received no response. 

PAL also says it is committed to investing 50-75% of revenue back into the BMX program moving forward. The nonprofit has also promised not to increase fees in 2022, replace rental bikes and helmets, replace the timing system, hold clinics with USA BMX licensed coaches, host private parties and events at the track, continue to pay all track operating expenses and financially prepare for a future track location.

However, what PAL cannot guarantee is certification from USA BMX. USA BMX is the National Sanctioning Body of BMX Racing. Without the sanction, the Santa Clara BMX track cannot host races approved by USA BMX, which means track guests can practice there, but not compete for regional, state or national titles.

As The Weekly reported earlier this month*, USA BMX considers Santa Clara’s BMX track one of the best tracks in the nation, however, it does not feel that PAL is capable of handling the track on its own. When PAL released the volunteer group running the track in April of this year, USA BMX revoked the track’s sanction. As of now, there’s no word on if PAL will be able to get that sanction back.

PAL says it had to release the volunteer group and thus close the track because it had discovered “that the volunteer management group had not adhered to standard and transparent accounting practices and had hidden sources of revenue from PAL.”

Nicholas Valencia, who ran the track until April, says he had an agreement with PAL’s former president that said the volunteers could keep 100% of the money they made from camps and clinics. PAL’s current management disagrees.

During the City Council meeting on May 24, PAL said it started a third-party audit to gain a “full financial account” of the previous management group. The Weekly asked PAL if this audit would be made available to the public or the media and received no response. 

*Within 24 hours of our initial in-depth report posted on May 11, 2022 regarding the PAL’s management of the BMX track, PAL’s public relations representative reached out to The Weekly to ask if we would be willing to print a statement from the nonprofit. To date, no such statement has been received.

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17 Comments
  1. James Poli 1 month ago
    Reply

    This is a travesty. The PAL board has gutted a very successful program with their malfeasance and have operated like a RICO enterprise rather than stewards of community growth. Their actions will diminish the #1 track in the country.

  2. Derek Stanfill 1 month ago
    Reply

    Just shameful the Lies and deciet spread by Mike Walke and his board at PAL. Higher powers need to investigate the biased board and involvement by members with the land development agency. Follow the money here.
    Nick and his team were used as scapegoats for a land power grab by Mike and his PAL Board. Kathy Watanabe from Council should also be looked into at this point.
    Only people losing is the Kids.

  3. Justin 1 month ago
    Reply

    This is not the News we want to hear. This track is gonna lose revenue and Riders ! I’ve raced at Pal since the Agnew days and to see it come to this is really Sad. The city and Pal is Not for the Kids ! You all should be Ashamed of urselfs and ur actions !!!! It was a #1 Track in the nation for what nick and his crew made it ! Pal just destroyed all that! I Can’t Believe the city would rather have an Unsanctioned Practice track ! Rather than a #1 BMX Track in there City ! Somethings Not Right !!!!

  4. Kimberly Brown 1 month ago
    Reply

    Erica Towne,

    Today’s article states, “Nicholas Valencia, who ran the track until April, says he had an agreement with PAL’s former president that said the volunteers could keep 100% of the money they made from camps and clinics. PAL’s current management disagrees.”

    Can you clarify what the disagreement from PAL is specific to this statement? Do they disagree that permission from their own organization existed? Or do they just disagree that it ‘should’ have ever been given?

    This is a critical point for your readers.

    Permission granted by the previous Executive Director of the PAL program at the time (and verified in writing in February 2022 to all parties) may not be well received or liked by the new PAL board, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It also doesn’t make those funds to be considered ‘hidden sources of revenue’. If these are the funds being claimed as mishandled, sounds like PAL needs to be answering much bigger questions about why the accusation of not adhering to standard and transparent accounting practices’ is even in the table to begin with.

    This has gone on far too long for PAL to continue to be given platforms for loose statements without backing and then “no comment” their way out of it. If even a PR firm can’t help them now, seems there’s more red flags than we know.

    • Yesssss 1 month ago
      Reply

      Kimberly Brown
      You nailed this one on the head. Where was PAL while these camps and clinics were going on and if it was a source of contention for them, why did they not 1) ask Nick in a professional manner what the current arrangement is and 2) renegotiate it if they no longer agreed? Seems if they were not clued in to what the agreement was, then they have communication issues within their own org and also should be more present in the BMX program to actually know what is going on.

      Nick had permission. That is all that matters. It does not matter if it was $1 or $1000, permission is permission, whichever way you slice it. Don’t like that arrangement, change it for the future in a professional way…but sorry, you do not get to be upset about what is already done and assassinate someone’s character over it.

    • No way!!!!!! 1 month ago
      Reply

      @Kimberly Brown. Please tell me all of these nonsense accusations against the volunteers were not based solely on what you explain above. That cannot be the real basis for this entire situation and if it is how embarrassing for PAL their supporters and our city.

      • @No way 1 month ago
        Reply

        ABSOLUTELY!!!
        If you look back to the town hall meeting that was at the track, and posted on FB that’s exactly why. No one ever wants to hear the verbal abuse and bullying tactics that The 3 PAL board members used toward the parent volunteer group. No one ever wants to hear of the absolute mess PAL as it’s own board has zero accounting standards and processes of their own. Why was the snack shack run on cash out of an envelope with no cash register or receipt and that handed directly to Mike(PAL)? Why did their own secretary abruptly quit? Why did Brian(PAL) hire his own goat business to do the weeds at the track? Why did Mike (PAL) hire his own son to do the electric work at the track?
        It’s easy to continue to make loose false accusations to cover your own mistakes, especially when given the voice to accuse but not have any burden of proof. Then just hit everyone with the “no comment.”

    • Softball Parent 1 month ago
      Reply

      @Kimberly Brown,

      PAL certainly has skin in the game regarding the direction provided from within their own group. But the letter is not crystal clear with what the funds are to be utilized for. It also doesn’t say anything about not reporting it to PAL. The letter states twice the funds from private camps are fundraising (details about specifics are there as well) and once that the money can be “kept”. It is necessary to have the original author clarify the intent here especially considering we knows it’s >$130K. If the author refuses to do so it will likely defer to a reasonable persons interpretation. Hence why in the council meeting council members made clear that the advertisements were littered with scpal information. This action leads a reasonable person to assume the funds generated are going to the program. Not for personal gain.

      Accounting – SCPAL paid a bmx parent to handle this for the bmx program. That employee is responsible for ensuring they performed the duties of their role. But that clearly didn’t happen since PAL has no records of the funds generated from clinics and camps. This is where the IRS fraud comes into play. Since the previous director didn’t specify the funds generated didn’t have to be reported, a reasonable person would assume tax laws are being adhered to. Clearly that is not the case. Ultimately SCPAL is responsible for the IRS compliance. But if any organization was missing 50% of their revenue, and inherited a complementary tax liability along with it, they would be also be requesting compliance and if it wasn’t provided it would likely be escalated.

      Having been apart of similar situations in my profession, I suspect PAL is being advised to remain silent on the matter if they are engaging the district attorney or IRS auditors. This could be why so many council members had stern statements, and annoyance at times, relating to the lack of access to the accounts.

      Also in the letter is the repeated use of the word “volunteer”. This is another critical component considering the precedence set by all previous management groups at the bmx program, other programs, board members, etc.. it is clear the authors intent doesn’t equal a paid volunteer position, being considered a staff member (like the bmx bookkeeper).

      Now I’m fairly certain someone is going to point me to the statement about private coaching. Private coaching is just that private and typically 1 pupil to 1 coach. The clinics and camps were open to the general public, advertised on the PAL bmx Facebook page, and more inline with classroom size populations. Which means a reasonable person would more commonly define this as group coaching.

      The author also clearly acknowledges he caused confusion on the matter which is why verbal agreements aren’t something that benefits anyone. All these elements and the refusal of the person, maybe group, who benefited needs to be taken into account when developing an opinion.

      My opinion – This should go to court so transparency is forced and the auditor can complete an audit in totality to subsequently provide recommendations on how to avoid this in the future. The fact that the volunteers aren’t willing to comply is truly mind boggling. The kids have lost their sanctioned track. If I was in the position of running the track I could not look at all the parents in the eye and standby. I would not be able to sleep at night knowing kids are crying about not being able to race when they are having breakfast, relaxing, or knowing it’s normally supposed to be a race day. There’s zero excuse for anything less than providing complete support so kids can have fun. Kids nowadays are unable to go to school without being educated on how to deal with mass shootings. Listening to the parents it feels like this was a place where kids could truly revel in the innocence and just be kids. My heart breaks for each and every oboe of them.

  5. Rich R 1 month ago
    Reply

    People still being fooled by pal and their lies. There’s only a handful of valid USA BMX licensed coaches in the area. None of which I believe would be coaching at pal & if your aren’t sanctioned what’s the point of the USA license. Parents should be wary of whatever random person they have coaching their children. Secondly, the $25k 5-loop timing system they claim to have is only available to USA BMX SANCTIONED tracks, which again, pal is not. Third, pal has had YEARS to plan for relocation and has failed miserably. Their “experienced” new management, a track operator from the early 90’s? Pre-Internet?? Has he even seen a barrel gate before, let alone operate one? How old is he and will he be able to quickly get to a rider who has fallen?

    With so many lies and semi-truths from pal, I would be worried as a parent to let my child out there. Do they really have insurance for when a rider goes down? I think they should post their insurance certificate. Does anyone there cpr & first aid certified? Many families trusted and were familiar with the old volunteer group, and pal unwilling to name who the new volunteer staff is, how will families know who to go to with questions or concerns? Why aren’t people willing to say, I’m going to be part of the new track management?

    I am hard pressed to put any confidence in their practices and am highly concerned for safety of all.

  6. IReallyShould (IRS) 1 month ago
    Reply

    So let me get this straight, PAL wanted to add two board members to PALBMX because they worried about Nick making money from the commercial and sponsors, so Nick closed the track because he was concerned about accusations of taking money. Then he closed the track again after Golden State Nationals because USA BMX didn’t make enough money after paying PAL. Then he said that he did take clinic money, but that’s OK because he spent it all on gas, podiums, and other improvements to the track.
    Now he says that he took the money because it was OK. After all, the president of PAL said it was OK four years ago to take the money as long as he used it in the program. At the city council meeting, the “forensic accountant” commented that over 130K was missing – but we should be ANGRY at PAL because all they care about is MONEY! City Council did right, and it is time to get USA BMX and PAL to agree and move on.

    • Forgive Him 1 month ago
      Reply

      @IRS -please forgive Nic, he used the extra for the Tesla car so he doesn’t have to get reimbursed for gas anymore. The sprinter was used to organize a cheering squad for the birthdays of Santa Clara pal kids (you have to be Nic’s favorite though). Gift cards were given to kids who signed up for. 4 weeks of summer camp (again, you have to be on the like list). Stipends were given to the Brown and Sereni families so they could go to nationals and grands. One year of free racing was given to certain families who were at the town hall meeting.

  7. Butt hurt much 1 month ago
    Reply

    @forgive him
    Jealous much? Nothing like hating on a man for putting forth effort you won’t. Instead of hating step out of the way.
    Professional move calling out 2 minors. No matter how you justify it absolutely disgusting, about as disgusting as Brian’s treatment of kids in Gilroy and now Santa Clara. Some adults thrive on that power and your obviously cut from the same cloth. Class not ass, some day you’ll figure it out.
    Again with lies and misinformation, it’s easier to hate than investigate. But I wouldn’t expect anything more.

  8. Erika Towne 1 month ago
    Reply

    Thank you everyone for engaging in this important topic. Please try and keep things civil and keep minors out of the discussion. Inappropriate comments will be removed.

    • Finally 1 month ago
      Reply

      @erika.

      Finally some one with some common sense and a sense of decency. Thank you for pulling this out of the gutter it was headed down.

  9. Nick V 4 weeks ago
    Reply

    Finally the kids got to get some practice on their track! Very disappointing that some very low life person/s had trespassed into the track and deliberately vandalized the place by cutting the electrical wires that feed the lighting and gate. Glad they were able to at least sort out the gate and get it working again! Hopefully they catch this person/s and prosecute them. I cannot believe this would even happen! Stop playing these games and either help the situation or step aside!

    • @Sparky^^^ 4 weeks ago
      Reply

      They installed security cameras all over the track and they are the police so…shouldn’t be too tough unless…

  10. cold340t 6 days ago
    Reply

    Looks like PAL just avoided Kick and Cody doing what they did to Livermore bmx or was it Apple Valley bmx? THANK YOU PAL! The track dosen’t need Nick, Cody or USABMX to continue to thrive and prosper. While serving the PAL Community. I mean look how well USABMX has managed the rest of California’s Tracks. With PAL as the Best Track in Country and NO PRO’s at the 3 day National? Really?
    How can anyone be satisfied with the way the ENTIRE WEST COAST has been treated by USABMX? BMX is an Olympic Sport and thanks to USABMX we get Cornhole Championships back to back on two SPORTS channels. Some Pro/National Promotion we got there eh? Don’t get me started on the Web cast!
    Thank You PAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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