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Monticello, New York resident oppose track expansion for IndyCar or ALMS UPDATE Residents packed a Town of Thompson Planning Board public hearing Wednesday night on the proposed Monticello Motor Club expansion. While several speakers complained that the noise has shattered their peaceful country getaways, others praised the private racing club for its economic benefits and said the noise isn't that bad.

Club President Ari Straus gave a presentation to a standing-only crowd of more than 100 people on the planned $41 million-$44 million 10-year expansion plan that includes hosting a few pro racing events every year.

As of 9 p.m., several people were still waiting to speak at the public comment session. The Planning Board was not scheduled to take any action.

Calls for more extensive study

Several residents from a bungalow colony on Rupp Road directly across from the track and others from the Lake Joseph subdivision, located about 1½ miles from the track, called on the Planning Board to impose sound mitigation conditions. These would include sound barriers or requiring mufflers. Speakers also called for a more extensive and neutral sound study. Residents said the Planning Board should define and impose sound mitigation conditions before the board considers approving a site plan revision.

Bill Oshan, a New York City resident who bought a home in the Lake Joseph subdivision, said the noise "was devastating" and "completely undermines the experience" of owning a home in the country.

He said the land developer and Lake Joseph residents planned to retain an attorney to evaluate how the Thompson Planning Board proceeds.

"You could not sell a home when that track is operating," Oshan said. "I know a very sophisticated real estate developer who feels his property is essentially worthless."

Siim Hanja, who founded the bungalow colony at the end of Rupp Road that has a dozen families, said the MMC developers have "done a spectacular job" in creating the track, but it has affected their quality of life.

"I'm asking you to be good neighbors," Hanja said.

But Barbara Barone, whose grandfather once owned the former airport, said her family still lives on Cantrell Road and supports MMC's expansion. She said the airport at its peak made more noise. Her family doesn't want live next to an ugly opaque wall that will look like a prison.

"We are proud of what they built," she said.

"They do things first class," County Legislator Ira Steingart said. Other speakers noted MMC was raising "the prestige" of the county.

Club expansion plans

MMC intends to build up to 200 private garages, 70 condos, a larger clubhouse and make infrastructure that would enable the racetrack to host professional races, such as American Le Mans/Grand-Am and IndyCar. These include building longer pits, a parking paddock and a trolley to shuttle spectators.

MMC paid for a sound study ordered by the town. The study concluded that a sound barrier would be effective in mitigating noise from drivers accelerating at a turn with their car exhausts directly pointing at Rupp Road. The study didn't recommend sound barriers in other areas. The study also found the decibel levels of a propeller plane and a helicopter simulating takeoffs and landings were louder than the average noise level generated by racing at the track.

Straus recently told the Times Herald-Record editorial board it doesn't make economic sense to build a sound barrier that would cost up to $1.2 million but the track would comply with conditions established by the town. readonline.com

05/27/10 (GMM)  A site for the 2012 United States grand prix has been selected. It was earlier reported that although a promoter has won the rights to stage the race on a purpose-built track in Austin, Texas, the actual site for the venue is still being decided.

But a lawyer for promoter Full Throttle Productions is quoted by the local American-Statesman newspaper as revealing that land has been secured.

"We're just not ready to disclose it (the actual location) yet," said Richard Suttle.

Suttle also said regular F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke has been appointed.

But even with the new details, doubts about the project remain, including insider sentiment that it resembles past negotiating moves deployed by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

Until the shock news of the Austin deal emerged, Monticello Motor Club in New York was considered the front runner for a contract.

Club president Ari Straus said the 2012 start-date was the biggest surprise.

"Somebody starting from scratch would not be able to do it until 2013," he said.

The implication could be that if Austin is unable to be ready for 2012, Monticello could be back in the frame for a project the following year.

"If Bernie comes back to the table," Straus said, "Monticello is ready."

But Austin promoter Tavo Hellmund, reportedly a friend of Ecclestone's for decades, said he is not worried about the tight schedule for 2012.

"If it (the date) slides back, it slides back," he said.

Although mainly funded privately, the project will also enjoy some state input, with a letter to Ecclestone signed by Texas governor Rick Perry pledging $25 million per year from the state's Mayor Event Trust Fund.

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