Cycling enthusiasts plan bicycle track on former Cleveland hospital site

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A group of cycling enthusiasts plans to open a banked oval bicycle track next year on the former site of St. Michael Hospital in Cleveland.
The nonprofit Fast Track Cycling Inc. hopes the track eventually will grow into an $7.5 million complex that will provide exercise for adults and children and bring cyclists to the Slavic Village neighborhood from across the country.
Cleveland City Council voted Monday to give Fast Track Cycling a two-year lease with an option to buy. The company will rent the property for $1 a year.
University Health Systems donated the property to the city after closing the hospital in 2003. A highly publicized battle led by U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich had saved the hospital from shutting down three years earlier.
The city gave Fast Track a previous lease with a purchase option in November 2009, but the agreement expired a year ago. At the time, the purchase price was $385,000, compensating the city for demolition and cleanup costs.
Fast Track board President Brett Davis said the company did not go through with the acquisition because the depressed economy made it tough to raise the entire cost of the complex. This time, the group is taking a gradual approach.
A first phase, costing $250,000, will include a banked tenth-of-a-mile track, made of laminated plywood and set in a steel bowl. The group has received $50,000 from the JAM Foundation and $50,000 from individuals who each gave $1,000.
"We are going to do our best" to get the balance of the money for the first phase, said Davis, of University Heights. "If we can't raise another $150,000, it's not important to enough people."
A second phase would cover the track with an inflatable dome for all-year use, and a third phase would add a second domed track, connected to the first by a building.
The country has about 25 such cycling facilities, the nearest located north of Detroit. Davis hopes having a track that donors can see will help bring in money to complete the complex in three to four years.