Dan Hust | Democrat
Les Kristt, a well-known Monticello businessman, told the Thompson Planning Board during Wednesday’s public hearing that the Monticello Motor Club is a huge asset to the area, especially the local economy.
Motor Club wants to add go-kart track
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO An unusually packed Thompson Planning Board meeting Wednesday focused on the Monticello Motor Club (MMC).
The audience was nearly evenly split on MMC’s application to build a go-kart track next to its year-old auto track, where wealthy car enthusiasts have been indulging their hobby of pushing expensive sports cars to their limits.
But interestingly, the bulk of opposing commentators were not asking the planning board to shut down the facility or to not approve the go-kart track. Instead, they used the public hearing to push for sound barriers to block out the roar of engines.
“We need the noise controlled,” remarked MMC neighbor Ann Culligan, who lives half a mile away on Route 42.
The 45-year resident and her husband, Jim, told planning board members that their lives have been disrupted by the extra traffic and noise generated by MMC.
“They start about 9, 10 [a.m.] and quit about 5:30 [p.m.],” Ann lamented. “... What we dearly love has been destroyed.”
Robert and June Somers live even closer to the track, right on Cantrell Road, and they said that, despite promises they remember being made by the original track developer, the track is hosting more than just street-legal vehicles.
“These cars are extremely noisy,” Robert told the planning board, with neighbors noting the presence of Formula One and other pure race cars. “... We’ve had to leave our home several times this year due to the noise.… Our quality of life as we know it is completely destroyed.”
June added that Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini had told her no motorcycles would use the track, yet “within a week, they were racing motorcycles.
“What is it next for the residents of Cantrell Road?”
Nevertheless, June acknowledged that MMC and its neighbors “can coexist” if full-scale sound barriers the kind of high walls that exist along interstate highways were constructed around the perimeter of the track.
No public responses were forthcoming from the board or MMC representatives that evening, including CEO Bill McMichael, who was in the audience. Planning Board Chair Jim Lyttle, however, did promise and MMC’s attorney Barbara Garigliano confirmed that the club will respond in writing to all the concerns raised, likely at a planning board meeting in the next month or so.
However, MMC’s brief presentation on its go-kart track application which also includes a revised Members’ Paddock, six “autominium” condo units, 12 rental units and a new parking area illustrated that the club is already cognizant of noise concerns.
Garigliano pointed out that go-karts have been used on the track and in the skid pad area since the facility opened in the summer of 2008, mostly for “babysitting” patrons’ children. Such operations have shown the management that noise is unacceptably high all the way out to Route 42, so they’re applying to build a dedicated track behind the metal building that used to serve as the Monticello Airport’s hangar.
“This will buffer it,” Garigliano explained.
But about half of Wednesday’s speakers (and several letter-writers) already were in full support of the planned expansion, all of them businesspeople who had been asked to attend by the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce and Partnership for Economic Development.
“Our numbers are up,” explained Keith Reiber, owner of Vino, a restaurant in downtown Monticello. “And having better business in this economy is hard to do.”
He recalled the track’s days as an airport, noting that “planes make a little bit more noise than automobiles” (though a later claim from another speaker that the tiny, unlit airport hosted hundreds of planes a day drew laughter).
Besides, said Karen Fisher, a Kenoza Lake businesswoman, there’s another noise being made a good one.
“It’s the noise of cash registers ringing,” she said. “They [MMC] are good for Sullivan County, and if we’re good to them, I have no doubt they’ll continue to be good to us.”
“You folks are lucky people,” Lew Klugman, a Parksville businessman, told the crowd. “I think this is a great project… spreading disposable income around.”
Les Kristt, who does business with the club through his office supply company in Monticello, said MMC has spent tens of millions of dollars in the local economy, and future proposals to add permanent structures to the track will churn out at least $11 million more.
“It’s extremely important,” he said, “that we expand our business horizons.”
“Everyone has to give a little to bring business in,” added Stacy Cohen of the Gersten-Hillman Insurance Agency in Monticello, another firm MMC patronizes. “And as far as I can see, they’re trying to control the noise.”
But that was of small comfort to those afflicted by the noise, which can be heard on weekends and some weekdays for at least a mile around the track.
“A lot of the people supporting the expansion do not live near it. They don’t hear it,” complained Joan Marie Bauman, who lives about a half-mile from the track. “... We need some kind of sound abatement.”