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NASCAR proponent must offer answers

April 23, 2002|BY BOB MAGINNIS

West Virginia State Sen. Herb Snyder will appear before the Berkeley County, W.Va. Commissioners on Thursday, May 2 at 7 p.m. to answer questions about his plan to build a NASCAR track in the Eastern Panhandle. It's a good time to review the issues we raised about the project a little more than a month ago.

Snyder wants a NASCAR-style track to be built on more than 1,000 acres of open farmland along the west side of Interstate 81 alongside Exit 5. Most of the property owners have not been contacted, but Snyder would like to offer them stock in the facility in exchange for their land.

We understand that in economic development ventures, those involved don't want their roles revealed prematurely. However, it should be possible for Snyder to tell the commissioners whether the investors, some of which have been described a "multi-billion-dollar companies" have any experience in track construction or operation.

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We raise the question because the recent history of corporate America includes tales of successful corporations which stumbled badly after they ventured outside their core businesses.

Traffic is another question. Proponents say the track won't be running all the time, but based on our research, these facilities have a large fixed cost, which means promoters try to keep them booked as much as possible.

Snyder also says that building a track will be better than allowing the land to be developed for housing, because a track won't stress the school system as much. But won't the track bring new jobs and new people to the area?

A month ago we also suggested that a group of citizens, which could possibly include some commissioners, visit some existing NASCAR-type tracks, to see what the benefits and the problems are. Even if Snyder answers all questions to everyone's satisfaction, some on-site research in communities with existing tracks would be the smart thing to do.

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