Residents in a subdivision near the proposed location of a motocross track on the 4H fairgrounds voiced their concerns at a special meeting that flowed from angry to somewhat amiable Tuesday night.
There was a clear delineation between the two groups—the nearly 30 local residents and the 60 or so supporters of the motocross—sitting on the pullout bleachers in the Clover Pavillion at the fairgrounds.
Earlier this month, the 4H Council approached the Dubois County Commissioners to notify them of the talks occurring between the council and Outlaw MX. Outlaw MX is a mom and pop owned race organizer from Knox County that currently operates races on a track at the Knox County Fairgrounds in Bicknell.
Owners Spencer and Staci Dotson and other supporters would like to turn about two acres of meadowland on the fairground into a mile and half motocross track. The group plans on hosting eight to ten races at the Dubois County track between March and October. The races would occur on Sundays with a practice session occurring the Saturday before the race.
If a contract is approved, Outlaw plans on building the track this year in preparation for races next year. They would pay the 4H Council $600 per event and had mentioned they would likely allow the 4H clubs operate concessions. According to Spencer, the concessions at the Bicknell events can bring in more than $1,000 an event.
Brent Sutton, owner of 231 Motorsports, gave a brief presentation to the crowd outlining the races and types of vehicles being used. He spoke on behalf of the owners who sat in the crowd. His company is a sponsor of Outlaw MX.
Sutton explained that the races would have up to a dozen racers going at one time on quads or bikes. According to regulations, the vehicles can’t be louder than 98 decibels. By comparison, Sutton said a riding lawnmower is about 85 decibels and a leafblower is about 102 decibels. He explained the bikes would be tested before the races and any that exceeded that limit wouldn’t be allowed to race.
Sutton also explained that the group will abide by the fairground rules regarding the operation of the bikes and quads on the property. Racers would not be allowed to ride their equipment on the property at all except on the track.
Any issues with racers breaking the rules or acting up would result in them being asked to comply or be banned from future races.
Additionally, the council told those in attendance the races would not occur after 9 p.m. and no lights would be added to the track to allow night races. Only events handled by Outlaw MX would be allowed on the track.
Racers range in age from 4 to young adults and according to Sutton, the area would likely have up to 100 racers and their families in attendance during the events. Sutton estimated this would likely bring about 300 people to the area for a race.
During the races, racers and families may camp in a designated area near the horse barn but generators would not be allowed after dark.
Although the contract between Outlaw and the council has not been finalized, several points have been established to protect or ensure the integrity of the fairgrounds. Besides the upkeep of the track and collecting trash, the council has a right to cancel the contract and Outlaw is required to return the track to its original condition within 120 days.
During Sutton’s presentation, the residents in attendance asked several questions regarding Outlaw MX’s viability and insinuated the council never planned on talking to the neighbors before moving forward with the project. They felt they should have been contacted earlier in the process rather than calling the meeting with them after the project made it into the news.
4H Council vice president Ed Boeglin assured those in attendance the council had always planned on talking to the residents. He also explained that in choosing the location over others that had been considered, they were attempting to find a location that would be the least disturbing to the neighborhood.
That did little to placate the residents of the Buechler Countrywood Estates. Resident Nikki Lasher asked for a show of hands from those who would want the track in their backyard. As hands shot up from the motocross section of the bleachers Lasher said then they should build the track in their backyards.
“My husband works nights, he sleeps during the day,” Lasher said. “We have people that have babies. You are not concerned about any of that. You are concerned about your families having fun, not with any of our families.”
Sutton explained the meeting would not have occurred at all if the council and Outlaw MX was not concerned about the impact on the neighbors.
Boeglin explained that as soon as discussions began the council had planned on talking to the neighbors. When questioned why it took so long, Boeglin said they were ensuring it was a viable project and collecting information so they could answer any questions the neighbors would have.
“It was brought up from day number one,” he said.
Spencer Dotson agreed and said he requested the meeting occur as well. He added that he felt the residents didn’t even want to give them a chance.
After the question and answer session was concluded, a couple residents read prepared statements.
Mark Lampkin, who has lived next to the fairground for about 34 years, presented the council with a petition signed by 34 of the residents in Buechler Estates. He told the council members that the park was a beautiful park that he walked daily before pointing out the motocross shouldn’t be allowed to exist there.
The petition listed four concerns about the track: increased noise, dust, fumes and drainage issues impacting the neighborhood, safety of the neighborhood due to the increased activity in the area and loss of property values.
“I have nothing against motocross,” Lampkin explained. “I just think the location of this particular proposed track is not the right spot. It is a total disregard to the neighbors, us.”
Sue Brames read a prepared statement in which she pointed out the park was one of the nicest in the state. She described it as a peaceful and nice country theme. She added that most people came to the campground to get away from a certain amount of noise and activity. “The idea of building a motocross course does not go along with your theme,” she told the council. “It’s just not a good fit.”
Through her statement, she reiterated that the neighbors don’t oppose the motocross, they oppose the location.
Mark Fleck asked about the additional dust that would be created as well as fumes from the bikes settling in the low-lying area leading to their neighborhood. He also asked about the impact of the traffic in the area and the campers that would be near his home.
The council had few answers regarding those concerns but felt the emissions from the bikes and quads would be no worse than the pollution from the farming operations in the area. In regards to dust, Sutton said that dust was a safety concern for racers and the track would be watered before races to knock it down.
Dubois County Councilman Mike Kluesner stated he was concerned about liability to the county as well as the impact on the park and any additional costs the county could incur.
Boeglin closed the meeting by inviting them to the council’s regular meeting. He said no decision on the contract regarding the motocross had been made but they could make it at the upcoming meeting. That meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, November 27 at the fairgrounds. Residents will have time, although limited, to address the 15 members of the council at that meeting.
In closing the meeting Boeglin told the crowd that no matter what decision is made, someone is not going to be happy.