As the Dubois County 4H Council continues to explore the potential for adding a motocross track to the 4H Fairgrounds, neighboring families are speaking up to dissuade them from the idea.
Jake Memmer, the treasurer for the council in charge of the fairgrounds and the annual fair, spoke briefly to the Dubois County Commissioners on Monday to provide an update on the potential project.
Memmer stated the board had held two meetings with the nearby residents to the proposed location. Those neighbors who live in Buechler Countrywood Estates, as well as residents in support of the track, were given time to speak during a special meeting held in early November and again, before the council’s regular meeting held last Monday.
Memmer reported that the neighbors raised concerns about the noise pollution from the bikes and quads while they race; the potential for other pollution as well as dust; the additional traffic in the area; the safety for riders and potential liability of the county and park system; and the impact on the values of their homes.
“Nineteen of the 21 households back there are not in favor of the track,” he told commissioners.
Memmer stated the council did not have a contract worked out with Outlaw MX, the corporation that would be responsible for building and then hosting the races.
In considering the location and use of the park for the venue, Memmer said the park is centrally located and the council is there to serve all residents of the county.
Memmer spoke to some concerns the neighbors have brought up.
In regards to noise pollution, Memmer stated that the closest neighbor’s property line was about 100 yards from the location of the track. He stated that the bikes are regulated on how loud they can be. They are about 98 decibels—similar to a lawnmower—and that is reduced to about 50 decibels at about 150 feet from the source, he noted. “Very similar to how I am talking right now,” Memmer said to the commissioners.
He added that they understood the closeness to the homes but the distance would dampen that noise.
The neighbors provided a list of other types of activities that could be hosted at the fairgrounds but according to council members, many of them have been tried in the past or are currently being hosted at the park. During the course of the conversations held in November, the motocross idea has been held as an additional source of revenue for the fairgrounds as well as fundraising for the 4H groups. Memmer took the moment at the commissioners to point out that it was more than just income for the council.
“It kinda goes beyond making money. Yes, it is a potential revenue source for the 4H Council but we are also trying to provide an additional outlet for our youth in the community to have a safe environment to practice another sport they would like to,” he said.
Memmer noted the fairgrounds is there for the entire county and the council is there to support activities for the entire county to enjoy.
“The youth that are involved are our future leaders,” he said. “Motocross isn’t tied to the 4H program but because we are the county fairgrounds we feel it is a good location for county residents to enjoy another form of activity.”
“Beyond that, we are trying to make a decision to potentially better the county,” Memmer added. “We are looking at how this impacts the neighbors as well as the county.”
The commissioners have a mixed view on the addition of the track. Commissioners Elmer Brames and Chad Blessinger both stated they couldn’t support the project.
“If you are coming for our support, the things you mentioned concern me a great deal and because of that, I can’t support it,” Brames said. “It might be beneficial to a segment of the county, but we have neighbors to consider as well.”
Blessinger echoed Brames sentiments and stated he couldn’t support it either. “I believe there is good intentions from the 4H Council,” he said. “It will be nice for the people that participate and bad for the neighbors.”
Stating he wouldn’t want it in his own backyard, Blessinger said he couldn’t support it being in their backyard.
Hostetter said he supported the idea.
“I tend to support your idea, I look at 4H as engaging the community youth,” he said. “You have about 12 (local) racers that travel to Bicknell, I think you could look to double that if it is here.”
He noted that many county fairgrounds including the state fairgrounds have race tracks and support races. He said this county fairground was the right place to put it.
“I see the concerns of the neighbors,” he said. “I feel that if the 4H is willing to make concessions like add a berm and maybe plant some trees and do things to alleviate their concerns, I support it. And I would ask that the neighbors make some concessions as well.”
Hostetter pointed out the racers are asking for about seven races a year with corresponding practices for a total of about 14 days annually the track would be in use. “That leaves them (neighbors) 350 days of peace and quiet and life as usual,” he said. “I feel like that’s not too much to ask.”
The decision rests in the hands of the Dubois County 4H Council though.
Memmer told commissioners that anything is up for discussion to possibly work out a solution.
“We would like to see this go through and we are trying to get to that point but we also understand the neighbors’ concerns and we would like to work with them on that if it is possible,” Memmer said.
“If you can come to a compromise, I would love that,” Blessinger responded.
Several homeowners were in attendance at Monday’s commissioner meeting as well. Rather than reiterating their concerns, they asked the council to put themselves in their shoes. They also asked them to do more research before deciding.
“I’m asking that each council member attend a motocross race so that you could know exactly what you’re voting for,” Sue Brames said to the attending 4H council members.
Memmer also told the commissioners the 4H council is planning on hosting a special meeting to make the decision on the motocross before its next regular meeting. The date of that meeting has not been determined yet.