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Emotions mixed about possibility of W.Va. track

April 22, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Scott Trayer jokingly told his wife that it wouldn't be all bad if an auto racetrack was built in Inwood.

Trayer told his wife that if the track was built, they could open up their yard for parking.

But the possibility of constructing a track is no laughing matter in the Trayer household.

While Trayer and some other residents oppose state Sen. Herb Snyder's proposal for a racetrack along the west side of Interstate 81, others said a track could draw tourists to the area and money into the local economy.

"Bring it on," said Scott Hull, who lives in Glengary, W.Va., west of Inwood. "It's more money for the area. That's the way I look at it. It's going to be noisy, but that's part of it."

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Snyder, who has been pushing the track idea for weeks, told members of the West Virginia Motorsports Council Wednesday that there are roughly 500 to 3,000 acres of open farmland along the west side of I-81 beside Exit 5 that could be used for a track.

Much of the land was split up among various owners after someone who used to own the property died, said Snyder, D-Jefferson.

Inwood-area residents say U.S. 11 and W.Va. 51, two of the primary roads in the area, already back up with traffic during peak travel times.

Traffic getting off and on I-81 at the Inwood exit is now controlled by stop signs. From the intersection, W.Va. 51 heads west toward Gerrardstown, W.Va., on a sometimes twisty and hilly drive.

Inwood resident Melissa Bates thinks adding a racetrack to the mix is incomprehensible.

"I just see doom," she said.

Trayer lives in a subdivision along W.Va. 51 across from the area that is being eyed for the racetrack.

"If you know anything about this area, the traffic is just terrible. They said they would put some improvements in for roads, but it won't be enough," Trayer said.

Martinsburg, W.Va., resident Charles Hanshew also wonders how track patrons would get into the track.

"They'd be backed up to Winchester (Va.) trying to get in through the little road there," Hanshew said.

Hanshew, who was picking up groceries at Barnhart's Supermarket in Inwood Sunday, said he likes the idea of a racetrack. But he thinks it will be overwhelming for Inwood residents.

"I don't think they will be very happy, as noisy as they are," Hanshew said.

But supporters of a track said the car noise would be no worse than traffic noise from I-81. They say a track would be a boon to the economy and provide another tourist draw for the area, not to mention a dream come true for local auto racing fans.

Dale Edwards was watching racing on television Sunday and said he was getting ready to head to Dover, Del., to see a race there. The Inwood resident considered it "wild" that his town was being considered for a track.

John and Kathy Sine, who just moved back to the Inwood area after a 25-year absence, said they think the track is a great idea. What opponents have to remember is that the track would not be running all the time, John Sine said.

Although most of the property owners have not been contacted as of last week about possibly selling their land for a track, Snyder said he has already come up with a way of turning over land for the track that would be attractive to landowners.

Snyder said property owners could turn over land in exchange for owning stock in the facility.

Snyder said the land starts on the top of a hill where a large water tower stands beside the southbound Inwood exit and goes west toward Gerrardstown.

Although Snyder said he is sure there will be opposition to the track, it has advantages over residential development because it does not stress the school system.

Snyder said the Inwood site will be developed anyway and county residents need to decide whether they want it to be houses or a project like his.

Snyder says two large corporations are interested in building the track. He has declined to say who the companies are.

Snyder is scheduled to appear before the Berkeley County Commission at 7 p.m. May 2 to answer questions from the public about his proposal.

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