The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Guest Column

October 19, 2013

Harpersfield track is criticized for a reason


Closer to home, local residents Bill and Ingrid Husam, who live near the track, recently had a realtor evaluate their property’s value. At first the agent suggested a selling price that they felt was within reason, but the company called the next day and said that after considering the track’s many negative effects they had to lower the selling price by $30,000.

After spending twenty years in the military, Jeffery Ballard wanted to buy land near his parents’ farm, but when he heard the track’s high-pitched whine he quickly changed his mind.

One couple has abandoned their home altogether. They still have to pay their mortgage, but of course an empty house is a total financial loss.

We’re sometimes told that the track affects only a few people. However, a Columbia County resident, Gary Stoller, heard a consistent message from realtors.

“The properties closest to the track weren’t always the most affected,” he said. “Often a few miles away it was worse, especially in the elevated areas.”

With buying and selling property slowed to a crawl, the local economy will weaken. Many people in this area are on fixed incomes. In a healthy real estate market, they might use their equity to move to places such as Florida, but if they can’t secure a reasonable selling price they will be trapped. These owners are the least likely to renovate, use the services of contractors or buy new equipment from local stores. In a depressed real estate market, the economy has little chance to expand.

Imagining that a single business such as the track, which only provides part-time, seasonal employment, will stimulate the economy that it’s simultaneously wounding, doesn’t make sense.

On Nov. 12, 2012, Supervisor Jim Eisel insisted: “The site plan is for a training track, not for racing.” He also told worried citizens that no cars would be allowed on the track. Both of these statements turned out to be false.

Under the NY Safety Track’s logo on Facebook, the following appears: “racetrack, cars, racecars.”

Now we have to defend ourselves against our own government, which has allowed a single business to degrade our quality of life and our financial well-being.

Michael Blaine is a member of Friends of Rural Life.

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