Advice on asking for land

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#1
Alright guys and gals,

I am the president of the Motor cycle club at my school, Iowa State University. We are a rather new club being only a few years old.

Here is my question, what is the best way to go about asking for land from the university or city for an off road riding facility? We are not looking for a lot of area just something to call our own.

I realize that many view dirt bikes as reckless and having no value. Other clubs use university facilities to practice their sport so is there a reason why we shouldn’t be entitled to something? We don’t think so.

Thanks in advance for your help and advice. There are a lot of good voices out there with more experience and exposure than I have, so I appreciate your wisdom.

Thanks,
Kevin
 

WoodsRider

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#2
Kevin - Unless you're willing to put up some cash to lease or purchase land, don't expect anyone to "give" you a place to ride. You may consider yourself part of the university because all the members are students, but I seriously doubt the board recognized you as an actual student club. As far as the city goes, I do know that both Austin, TX (Emma Long) and Oklahoma City, OK (Draper Lake) have public parks designated for off-road vehicle recreation. However these are public parks and I assume they are controlled by the city even though volunteer groups probably maintain the trails. Your best bet is to look into a long-term lease. Contact a realtor to find out how much farm land is being leased for in your area. They may also know of a tract of undeveloped land that could be available. Keep in mind you'll want to be far from any sort of housing development. Of course the land-owner will probably want to sign some sort of legal-ease document to keep him from being sued in case of injury and/or death. You will also need the members to sign a liability release document. I would contact an attorney to have him draft up the required documents. They may also need to be notarized. As you can see it's not cheap, but well worth the effort.
 
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#3
Neighbors Are Bad News

Kevin,
If you are fortunate enough to find a suitable tract of land, as Woodrider said, make sure their are no housing developments or even one house in the near vicinity. If there is a house within a 1/4 or 1/2 mile, you must obtain approval of the owner(s) to ensure the success of a riding area. My club squandered nearly all of its money fighting nearby landowners when we were forced to move off our old property. Notice I said landowners, some of the plaintiffs did not have a single building erected on their property. Our lawyer finally told us that unless we had alot of money we were wasting our time. This is because people can sue for almost any reason in the world. It is very rare for a judge not to allow a case to be brought before the court. Good luck on your adventure, it is a worthy one.
 

bbbom

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#4
I always say, it can't hurt to ask!

Write up a proposal for why the use of the land would be beneficial to everyone involved, what kind of agreement you want to have and leave it open for futher discussion.

Start with the main reasons why they should consider granting your club access to the land. Explain what the benefits are for the land owner AND the club.

Decide what the rules will be and who maintains the land, insurance, etc.

Present it PROFESSIONALLY. I would suggest finding the location of possible areas ahead of time and doing some investigation as to the owner, neighbors, zoning.......all the info you can find at the County Courthouse.
 

WoodsRider

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#5
Explain what the benefits are for the land owner...
That's the typically the deal killer right there. The club I belonged to in Chicago was always looking for more property to add mileage to the enduro. We'd always hear about this 300 acres or that 75 acres. For months we'd try to locate and contact the land owner. Once we did they always asked the question "what benefits do I get out of letting you use my land?"

Clearing trails for hunters, free t-shirts, a smoked ham and a bowling banquet weren't exactly what they were talking about.

Money talks, unless you happen to find a land owner that also rides. ;)
 
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bbbom

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#6
Totally agree with you there Woodsrider. But, maybe a bunch of biker college kids can come up with some ideas. Clean up the place, patrol it.... fence it, charge a small fee and hand it over to the owner, who knows. Be creative! :think

Sad to say it is usually $$$$$ that they want but I know we have been able to use land once in a great while for a construction yard just by doing some kind of improvement.
 

WoodsRider

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#7
bbbom - Having access to earth-moving equipment is definitely a bonus. However not all land-owners are receptive to having off-road vehicles on their land. I remember one lady giving me a 30-minute lecture on how our motorcycles were destroying some type of moss that takes over a 100 years to grow. :silly:

RMrider - That same scenario is happening all over the place. Trails that were built and maintained by dirt bikers as multi-use trails are being run-over by mountain bikers. Pretty soon the mt. bikers find a way to get the dirt bikers shut out. Even at places like Slickrock outside of Moab, UT this is a problem. I hope the mt. bikers remember how they treated dirt bikers when the hikers get them shut out. :think
 
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#8
Thanks for the ideas; this is the type of stuff that I was looking for. I appreciate your help. Keep ‘em coming if you got more.
 
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#9
I've looked into this a bit myself what I found out was that alot of tracks get shut down mainly because of the insurance costs. $400-500 per day. Thats with the sign ins. Does'nt matter, tracks and riding facilities are expensive no matter how you cut it. Earth moving equipement, insurance, maintenance and sometimes legal fees. Usually though most counties have a division for parks and recreation. You might go to your local track or trail or where ever you ride and get signatures to show the county there is an interest and that the community wants a park like this. Usually a county will have seized land that they have no use for. The only problem with working with government is that they take so much time to do anything. Thats what I'm short on is time.