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Long-term solution to race track situation

Posted: Mon, Jul 8, 2013 7:41 PM

(Rick Valley of Decorah has submitted the following Letter to the Editor):

First of all, I should preface my remarks by saying that I neither live close to the fairgrounds nor am a fan of auto racing in any form. I did avoid purchasing a house near the old Smith hospital building specifically because of the noise issue connected to the races, but I do appreciate the rights of race fans to continue to enjoy this important part of their lives.

So, sitting on the far west side of Decorah where I just barely notice when the races are happening, I think the elephant in the room needs to be recognized: The location of the Winneshiek County Fairgrounds that provides the venue for the racing seems to be the obvious cause of the problems people have with the races. Location, not racing. Location, where the necessary noise of the races negatively impacts neighbors. Location, which is more of problem related to tradition than to solution.

I am suggesting that the fairgrounds (with the racetrack facility) needs to be relocated to the outskirts of Decorah, above the valley and the bluffs that tend to exacerbate the noise issue. The current fairgrounds was probably as much a product of evolution than design. The limitations for the annual fair and the weekly (seasonal) races are locked into a limited space that was not developed with the current and future of either the fair or the races in mind.
I realize this is proposal would not be quick and it would not be easy. But, most people looking for a solution and a brighter future for both sides of this issue could see this as a long term goal, giving both sides of this festering dilemma an opportunity actually to join together and begin the discussion of how this might be accomplished.

The Oneota Valley is a bowl of prime real estate, and the current fairgrounds is certainly a great location for a variety of development possibilities. The value of the real estate alone would provide a foundation for funding such a project, even though additional investment would certainly be required. The design of the new fairgrounds could be planned to generate more income and be developed over time. Current needs could be seen as the foundation, but expansion could be designed into the project, so that a wide range of future possibilities might be incorporated as needed. The people of Decorah complaining about the noise issues related to racing could be as motivated as the race fans to join in a serious effort to explore the idea and bring solutions for both sides.

As I have said, I live on the far west side of Decorah, and this issue may not directly impact me. However, in most cases, a real community can and should join together to solve its problems, rather than circling the wagons and fighting. I have nothing to gain or lose by this suggestion, but many of you who are currently arguing do. I only wish you and our community the best for now and the future.

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