Neighbors contend motocross track ‘not a good fit’


BRETZVILLE — Neighbors near the 4-H Fairgrounds are not pleased with the idea of having a motocross track at the fairgrounds, and they are especially upset that the 4-H Council did not contact them earlier about the prospect.

A crowd of about 60 people attended a meeting Tuesday evening at the fairgrounds’ Clover Pavilion building. Half were neighbors who were in opposition to the proposed track.

Half were people who supported having a track at the fairgrounds; several of those were children who participate in Outlaw MX races in Knox County. Some came dressed in their racing gear.

The proposed idea is to build the 1.5-mile track on a portion of the land on the northwest side of the fairgrounds. Outlaw wants to have motocross practices and races at the track once a month as part of a rotation with races the company hosts in Bicknell. The practices would be on Saturday and the races on Sunday. Outlaw would pay the 4-H Council $600 for each racing event. The track would be fenced in and locked so that it could only be accessed for the races.

The idea is to build the track this year, have it settle over the winter, and start using it next year. The motocross season is from March to October. The track would not be used during the 4-H Fair or when there are animals at the fairgrounds.

Brent Sutton, owner of 231 Motorsports, spoke about the track on behalf of Outlaw. Sutton supports Outlaw and its races as one of its major sponsors. Outlaw MX owners Spencer and Staci Dotson sat in the audience Tuesday evening, but also responded to questions from the crowd.

Sutton said a typical race would bring in about 100 riders, and about 10 riders would be on the track at one time. The events would be additional income for the fairgrounds, Sutton said.

Racers must comply with noise testing and have a sticker indicating that they have passed inspections. If they don’t have the sticker, “they don’t race,” Sutton said. The noise limit is 98 decibels, he said. For comparison, Sutton said that a riding lawnmower is 85 decibels and a leaf blower is 102 decibels.

The track would be watered to help control the dust, and there would be no standing water on the track, Sutton said.

Neighbors, who live in the nearby Buechler Estates, said that they don’t object to the sport itself.

“We are not opposed to motocross,” neighbor Sue Brames said. “We are opposed to the location.”

Neighbors found out that the council has been considering the idea for the last two months, and many of them were not happy that they were not notified early on. Many people said that the first time they heard about the idea was when they read it in The Herald last week.

Nikki Lasher, who lives in the neighborhood, asked for a show of hands of who wanted the track at the fairgrounds. After noticing that the supporters did not live near the fairgrounds, she said, “Then put this in their backyard. Because none of the neighbors want it here.”

Lasher said after the meeting that she was concerned about noise and safety. “My husband works at night and sleeps during the day,” she said. “I have children. So I am concerned about safety. I don’t necessarily want strangers camping on my treeline.”

With the races, some of the racers may stay in he horse barn area overnight, since the practice would be on Saturday and the race would be Sunday.

“I’m not saying they’re not respectful people. But things happen,” Lasher said. “If you get 300 people camping on your treeline, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You can’t know.”

Mark Lamkin, who has lived next to the fairground for the last 34 years, presented the council with a petition from 34 neighbors living in Beuchler Estates, 90 percent of the residents there, opposing the track’s location.

“You’ve established a beautiful place here. We enjoy walking here every day,” he told 4-H Council members. “A motocross track and residential area can’t coexist.”

He said that he is not against the sport. “There is nothing wrong with this track,” Lamkin said. “But there is nothing right with the location.”

Brames echoed Lamkin’s sentiment. She said that the image of the fairgrounds and county park is a clean, well-manicured area that has a “nice quiet country theme.”

“I’d imagine if you’re a camper, you want to come to the country to get away from a certain amount of noise and busyness,” she said. “The idea of building a motocross course does not go along with your theme. It’s just not a good fit.”

The money Outlaw makes at its events is used to pay for the expenses for running an event, such as trophies for the winners, equipment rental, compensating volunteers, insurance and an end-of-the-year banquet for participants, Staci Dotson said.

“The money we make, we put back into motocross,” Spencer Dotson said. “A lot of my business is done in Dubois County. You guys don’t even want to give us a chance.”

“Because I’m afraid of the longtime consequences,” Lamkin said. “It’s just too close to our neighborhood. And that continuous noise is not good.”

Ed Boeglin, vice president of the 4-H Council, said that the council will ultimately make the decision on the matter, but that decision has not yet been made. He said the petition and the audience’s feedback will be shared with the entire council at its next meeting, which is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 27 at the fairgrounds. Council member Gary Weyer said that anyone wanting to address the board can do so at the meeting, though there is a time limit for the length of comments.

“No matter what decision is made,” Boeglin told the crowd, “someone is not going to be happy.”

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