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9:52 PM Mon, Sept. 24th

Chino council mulls racetrack controversy

CHINO VALLEY – A full house greeted Chino Valley Town Council members Thursday night when they met to discuss the town's latest controversy – a proposed racetrack at Old Home Manor.

Prescott businessman David Brinkley brought up the idea of a vehicle motor sports complex in a Dec. 13 meeting, and the Town Council seemed receptive.

But since then two groups – one opposing the auto racetrack and one in favor of the track – have been collecting signatures and supporters.

Jerry Samansky opened the 75-minute citizen discussion about the racetrack, showing 236 signatures of people in opposition to the track at Old Home Manor.

East-side residents near Old Home Manor provided the bulk of the signatures, objecting to noise, lights, litter, traffic congestion and dust.

Another neighbor asked: "If this is a private enterprise, why is the town putting money into it?" The proposed track would go on Old Home Manor – a town-owned recreational facility.

Ron Hall spoke in favor of the racetrack, saying the opposition was "blowing things out of proportion" and local "kids need something to do."

Steve Rafters said he "wasn't against racing" but was against the track being placed on public land and "in my backyard."

A teen-age girl told the Town Council that it should consider the positive aspects of a racetrack.

Joy Smith, who lives near Old Home Manor, had no objection to a racetrack, but objected to the proposed location. "How many people would like a track a half mile from their home?" she asked.

Alice Greiner lives about a half mile from Old Home Manor and objected strenuously to its proposed location. She said she has no objection to a raceway outside the town limits but does object to using public property to support a private enterprise.

Butch Wood said he collected 3,000 signatures in support of the auto racetrack and said the group would work with the town on dust and noise issues. "We don't want to bother anybody."

Corey Mendoza, a Chino Valley resident since 1969, said he has a right to a certain percentage of town lands as a taxpayer. But Mayor Dan Main said no other privately owned businesses operate at Old Home Manor.

Dorothy Schmidt said a racetrack would not be good for the neighbors or the Yavapai College equine and agricultural programs.

Jim Storm asked for a chance to meet noise requirements and other neighborhood concerns.

Ree Walsh repeated many citizens' concerns when she said "Old Home Manor is not the place for it."

John Morgan, representing Yavapai College's Chino campus, also objected to the proposed location.

Audience members applauded soundly when he said: "The best way to keep kids off the streets is to educate them and teach them to set goals."

After 75 minutes of public discussion, the council members got the message.

"This seems to be about location," observed Main. "I still think we need the track but we need to find a better location for it."

Neighbors applauded when he said he would support the auto racetrack, but not at Old Home Manor. Other council members agreed, and said they would work with racetrack proponents to find a suitable location.

Contact Dorine Goss at dgoss@prescottaz.com