Legal street racing was again the topic of the night at the Rock Springs City Council meeting. After a presentation during the Feb. 19th meeting by Sgt. Tim Robinson and local business owner Alan Zanetti, Mayor Kaumo asked that a public hearing be added to the March 5 agenda so that individuals could come and voice their opinions on the proposal.
The council chambers were packed tonight as residents stepped to the mic, for and against the proposal that aims to hold 3 events during the summer on a stretch of Stagecoach Dr.
Councilman Zotti started by clearing up some of the statements he said he had heard in the community about the event such as the cars going speeds of 200-300mph (they won’t), the vehicles being dangerous (they would be required to be street legal and inspected prior to racing), alcohol being an issue (there would be no alcohol serving and open container is law), and again mentioned that top speeds would be estimated around 80-90mpg (at the highest). He asked that in order for everyone to make a sound decision they look at what is actually being proposed.
Zotti also mentioned a few of the other concerns he has heard about how close the location is to homes (he mentioned that from what he’s gathered the closest homes are 800-1200 feet away), the noise concerns, trash being an issue, and again the proximity to residences.
Before opening up the public hearing, Mayor Kaumo reiterated that Council would be taking action on this proposal at the next meeting, so “this will be your time to be heard.”
Kaumo also stated that there had been a lot of comments on both sides of the discussion, but that Rocket City Street Racing had done the right thing by bringing it forward and proposing a new idea for the community in the proper way.
Mayor Kaumo said that a lot of the comments he was receiving were along the lines of “I’m not against drag racing. I’m just against drag racing in the city limits.” He said that other locations were looked at since the last meeting and many were not available due to being access roads for RSFD as well as not being straight enough for the event to be safe.
Residents who stood up against the proposal mentioned many of the same concerns like, “Why? This is too big of a risk.” and questioned the liability of the City if something were to occur. Questions were also asked about where the money would come from for clean-up and also paying the RSPD staff to secure the events. Some residents felt the impacts of noise and traffic would be a major concern. One resident questioned, “What benefit is there to the City with this?”
Devon Sloan, who lives in the area, thanked Sgt. Robinson for doing an excellent job in answering her questions prior to the meeting, but said she still has many concerns. She also did not feel anyone had talked to the people who actually live in the area and stressed that the petition that was “for” the racing was at an auto body shop. She was among the many who said, “I’m not against racing, I’m against the location.” Her neighbor, Sara Geffre, told council, “People use that loop to run and bike,” and mentioned that she, herself, uses that area for recreation.
Bobby Pineda also stood up in opposition to the proposal and stated to council that the fact this topic has brought up so much “controversy… that shows what you should do in opposing this.” He also stated that he is hearing people say that this event will “take racers off the street” and he disagrees because “this will put racers ON the street.”
Many residents also stepped out in favor of the proposal and countered many of the objections. On the noise and traffic issue, they highlighted many other events and areas that also bring high noise and congested traffic. One resident summed it up by saying, “We all have different visions of what we enjoy doing.” One by one, residents stood up to offer their support and mention their passion for racing and the event.
Dave Daniels stated that he had just tested his street legal truck on a race track to see what type of speed he would be able to reach at the suggested 1/8 mile distance. He said he was able to get up to 83.6mph, “far from 200mph.” He went on to say that he was able to get his sons off the street doing illegal street racing by getting them involved in legal street racing before he moved to Rock Springs.
Mr. Robinson and Mr. Zanetti once again stood up to thank everyone for getting involved, those for and against the proposal. Mr. Robinson said that he has heard from many individuals with interest, even some from the Salt Lake area where the race track has closed. He mentioned that is not the goal right now, but that these are just the first steps. To get something going, 3 times a year, and gauge the interest and see where to take it. He mentioned a comment that was made that their group was “loosely organized” and answered that yes, there are steps being taken right now with a small group and if there were to receive the approval, they would move on to the next step and organize when it was the appropriate time. He also mentioned that he had spoken to someone at the WWCC automotive department and they are hoping to get approval where racers could use the dyno at the college to practice and tune their vehicles a few days prior to racing. This could alleviate some of the concerns about racers “practicing” on the street before actual race events. Mr. Zanetti thanked everyone in attendance “for being involved in the process.”
Mayor Kaumo pulled up a map of some locations that were also being discussed and mentioned a suggestion of paving part of the grandstand parking lot at the Sweetwater County Events Complex. He said he did not speak for the County and was not trying to speak on their behalf, but that Councilman Zotti sits on that board and it might be worth a discussion between the two groups. He stated that it may be something that improves the events complex grounds and adds a new venue.
One of the concerns that continued to come up during the initial meeting and also the resident discussions tonight was the proximity to the school grounds. Sweetwater County School District #1 Superintendent Kelly McGovern and Director of Facilities Daniel Selleroli also got up to discuss the proposal. Ms. McGovern started by saying they were not there “for or against” the proposal, but wanted to share some information. In the recent legislative session that ended last week, $17.9 Million has been earmarked for a Rock Springs satellite high school. Rep. Clark Stith was in attendance at the council meeting and relayed that this money is “in the bank” and is just waiting on a signature from Governor Gordon.
The proposed satellite high school will be at the corner of Stagecoach Dr. and Summit. Estimated time to break ground would be June 2019, right next to the proposed location for the legal street racing event.
Ms. McGovern and Mr. Selleroli both reiterated that their jobs are to make sure the area remains “safe and secure” for students.
Council will vote on the proposal in the next regular meeting on March 19.