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June 11, 2013

Track opponents run into obstacle

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — When the Harpersfield Town Board holds its regularly scheduled meeting tonight, don’t expect any flare-ups — or even calm discussion — relating to the panel’s approval of a controversial open-air facility known as the New York Safety Track.

That’s because town officials have decided to keep a lid on the voices that have been raised in opposition to the track, voices belonging to more than 30 local residents who have signed onto a lawsuit against the town and the manner in which it authorized the motorcycle track to open for business.

“Because of pending litigation, we have been advised by our attorney that there will be no open discussion or debate or comments at our town board meeting,” Harpersfield Town Clerk Linda E. Goss said in a letter to the track opponents.

The one-sentence letter was dated June 5. Contacted by The Daily Star Monday, Goss said the decision to shut down any comments or debate was not pursuant to a board meeting but was related to her by Harpersfield Town Board Chairman James Eisel Sr.

“He called me and said this is what our town attorney (Kevin Young) decided,” Goss said.

Eisel was reported to be attending a meeting Monday night and could not be reached for comment at his home.

One of the neighbors suing the town, Kitty Ballard of Parker Schoolhouse Road, Davenport, said she and other neighbors still plan to attend the meeting so they can monitor the board’s discussion.

“We’re going,” she said. “I guess we won’t be able to say anything.”

The attorney for the track opponents, Douglas Zamelis of Springfield, questioned the move to block public discussion. “If you have nothing to hide, why would you do something like this?” he asked.

He said a hearing on the legal claim is scheduled to be held July 26 at the Madison County Courthouse in Wampsville before Judge Donald Cerio.

The lawsuit contends that members of the Harpersfield town board and planning board violated state laws when they “acted, out of the reach of the eyes and ears of the public, to allow motorcycle and automobile racing at the New York Safety Track.”

The plaintiffs complain that the track — located at the foremr Mountain Top Airfield — produces loud noise that can heard for miles and significant traffic on local roadways.

The track manager, Greg Lubinitsky, has said no racing is allowed at the 2.2 -mile oval track, which instead specializes in offering training programs.

Eisel, who is also chairman of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, has said he is optimistic the track will help spur business growth in the region.