Save the Track organization finally gets public comment opportunity, board hears potential proposals
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KAKE)-“We’re here today and you’re gonna listen,” Jami White, a Save the Track supporter.
More than 225 people packed the Encampment Building on the Hutchinson State Fairgrounds for a state fair board meeting. They were all passionate about saving the race track that sits on the state fairgrounds.
“There's nothing wrong with this track, it’s just been poorly managed,” said Robert Kelly, a Save the Track supporter.
The state fair board voted to demolish the race track last year without public opinion, but after pushback, they decided to give the public a chance to voice their opinion and hear proposals to potentially save it. The entire state fair board and the general manager were in attendance, except the president of the state fair board.
C Ray Hall and Phil Nightingale with Mel Hamilton Ford presented two different proposals.
Hall’s proposal was essentially to move forward as the track has in the past hosting just the Hutchinson Nationals, but with an additional thousand dollars in rent. The proposal that Nightingale proposed was more extensive and included multiple races throughout the year as well as fixing the concrete walls of the track at no additional cost to the fairgrounds.
“Please consider this. It’s a great thing for Hutchinson, it's a great thing for the community and it’s a great thing for the Kansas State fairgrounds so let’s go race,” said Phil Nightingale a proposal presenter.
The board allowed one hour for public comment, and ten different people from all walks of life spoke, including a state representative.
“If you tear it down, it’s a one-way street. There’s no coming back,” said Kansas State Representative Paul Waggoner.
“The fair is supposed to be for everyone in the state, not certain agendas,” said Lee Stephen, a Save the Track supporter.
A few others also signed up to speak but conceded their time to allow for William Nusser, a leader in the Save the Track organization, to have more time. He was only allotted 10 minutes maximum.
“What’s the rush? We’ve been here since 1910 the facilities have been used- you don’t have a future plan for it and the financial ability why rush and just axe to tear it down when you don’t know the future?” said William Nusser.
“We’re just a group of people who care about dirt track racing and we care about the Kansas state fair and that’s what makes it so crazy for us. Because we don’t want to work against them. We want to work with them,” said Jami White, a Save the Track supporter.
There will be a special meeting on Tuesday, November 21 at 5 p.m. at the Administrative Building on the Kansas State Fairgrounds. It is at that meeting the fate of the racetrack will potentially be decided.