Friday, May 8, 2009

Money Talks and Loud Engines Scream

Less than two weeks passed between me reading the original newspaper article about the proposed motocross track across from our horse riding arenas and the decision to build it. It's as if the powers that be already made up their minds and didn't want to give people time to gather in defense of our natural surroundings.

Basically, County Commissioners are convinced that the people who they would attract with this track will bring money into our county. The drive to bring in money stems from another unwise decision they made. Last year they decided to build a Holiday Inn across the street from my son's high school. These high school kids have a hard enough time learning how to drive without throwing tourists into the mix.

Currently, it is very difficult to get in and out of the driveways of the high school parking lot due to general mayhem. The high school is on a main artery that bypasses town and cars come swinging around a blind curve at 45 MPH while kids are pulling out of the parking lot. Of course this is a 25 MPH zone, but coming out of a 45 MPH zone on one side and a 55 MPH zone on the other, people rarely bother to slow down for a school. With the hotel across the street, there will also be tourists pulling out of the hotel driveway at the same time. Not a wise predicament to put our community in. I was just hoping that my son would graduate before they finish building the beast.

Now the company that was funding the project to build the Holiday Inn is filing for bankruptcy due to economic problems. The County Commissioners think that motocross enthusiasts will stay at the Holiday Inn once it is built. Most of the motocross people I know show up in RVs and sleep there in the parking lot of the motocross tracks or reserve a space at an RV park.

Granted this is a temporary motocross track that has been permitted for 18 days of use this summer, and the project for a permanent track will have to come before the board before it can be built. The Community Services Director performed a "scientific" test in which he and other officials started up a dozen or so dirtbikes and then positioned themselves on adjacent parcels to listen to the noise level. They claimed that in some cases, the dirtbikes could not be heard over the noise from the model airplane facility.

So, why not perform the same test on a day when there is no activity at the model airplane facility? When I have ridden my horses at the Fairgrounds, there has only been one time that someone has been flying a model airplane. It's not a frequent event. Also, the argument that since the model airplanes are already making noise, then it's okay to bring more noise into the area, is just plain stupid. If horse people had it their way, there would be no model airplanes flying over their horse's heads, there would be no shooting range nearby, and there would be no dump trucks roaring up and down the road next to their riding arenas. But I guess since we've survived all that without any broken necks, they may as well up the ante by adding a motocross track.

An even more "scientific" test might be to put several riders in the arena on fractious, green horses that have never seen nor heard motorbikes and ATVs before, then start up the dozen or so engines and have the motorbike riders pop up into the air off jumps, then see how many horseback riders end up being dirt darts.

The Chamber of Commerce truly believes that this motocross track will generate more than $1 million for our community and open up new jobs. Specifically, they think there will be more servers in restaurants and more checkers at the supermarket. What? Like two, maybe, in just the summer months?

What happened to the animal shelter advocates? It sounds like they were bribed. There was talk of earmarking some money for them so they could take precautions against the noise, perhaps build up some sound barriers around their facility. Well, who's going to build a sound barrier around the horse arenas?

A motocross supporter argued that a lot of people were against building a skate park, but the county built it anyway and now everyone loves it. Ummmmm, there's a huge difference between kids riding skateboards and people riding motorized vehicles that can have engines at decibel levels that rival the noise a dragster makes when accelerating out of the starting line.

The hearings for this motocross track were scheduled at times when I had to work, so I missed them. It sounds as if there were some people complaining that they bought homes in this rural area specifically for the peace and quiet, and then the motocross people argued that they bought their homes here specifically for the open space where they could ride. I predict that this debate is just going to become more widespread and start affecting more and more of our country's rural communities. Unfortunately, my community is going to be one of those that makes a Bozo No-No that teaches other communities what not to do.

I plan to take my spookiest horse out there during a motocross event and document my experience well for those who consider this temporary motocross track as an experiment. My horses and I will be their guinea pigs. If it is like they suggest, and you can barely notice anything going on, then I won't say another word and will let them build the permanent track. Otherwise, they'll be hearing from me again.


Katharine Swan said...

NM, you BE CAREFUL when you take your horses out there to try to make a point. It isn't worth getting seriously hurt over!

On the flipside, though, be sure to take a video and post it to YouTube, with all the pertinent information in the description. You may get some more supporters that way.

I think that's awful that they've railroaded all of the opposition. I agree with you -- this isn't Field of Dreams. "Build it and they will come" my a$$. What do you want to bet that the only thing that comes will be MORE cash flow problems like what's plaguing the Holiday Inn?

jane augenstein said...

Oh, I am so sorry this is happening to your community! How horrible for you and others that have to listen to all that noise.
~Jane and Gilly~

CurtsBooks said...

I just found your blog.
What you are facing sounds like County politics as normal--sadly. You will need to really rally all the surrounding home & property owners to fight this. I have no idea where you live; is it California? If so, what about the Air Quality District concerns about particulate matter in the air from the dust? That is a big problem in my area of Calif. and can stop certain things.
Good luck.

lytha said...

which one is the spookiest!??!


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Katharine - I'll be careful. I'm not on a suicide mission. If I can ride out years of Lostine's ornery bucks and Bombay's teleportation spooks, I should be okay.

Jane - Amen.

CurtsBooks - Thanks for finding me. I'm in Nevada.

Lytha - Right now Bombay is the spookiest, but I should be riding Gabbrielle soon, so we'll see who wins once I've got her under saddle.

Kate said...

Many people seem to have an unlimited tolerance for noise - not me. Also, many local governing bodies rely on growth (of revenue) to dig their way out of holes they have dug by spending more money than they should. The general assumption that growth is good is driven by greed and a disregard for the values of community and peace and quiet. Sorry for your troubles.

nikki said...

I hope that you win your fight against the racetrack. We had them try to do that to us when we lived in CO and everyone pulled together to fight it. They eventually changed their minds and decided to drop it. Then about 5 years later the developers came and bought the open fields and built 1500 house across the street from us, and when we moved they were planning on building 750 more houses butting up to our fence line and horses. Can't stop "progress" you know.

Maybe they can purchase a golf course in the middle of the city and turn that into a racetrack? :P Or maybe just fix up and go to an existing one...

Andrea said...

It might be a surprise and your horse might not spook at all. My father in law was line driving a two year old while my son was riding his dirt bike and the horse never spooked. I was really surprised!! I was for sure the horse would flip out!!

I do hope that everything will work out. It would be horrible to loose a nice riding arena to ride in.