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May 4, 2013

Bike track opens amid debate

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The New York Safety Track in Harpersfield, which will offer courses in the safe operation of motorcycles, is set to make its debut this this weekend, according to its manager.

Meanwhile, an attorney for neighbors who insist the facility is out of character with the rural area said he’s also beginning something new — an investigation of the possible legal options for his clients.

Neighbors say they fear that the private track — where government speed limits do not apply — will evolve into a racing facility for not only motorcycles but also cars.

But Greg Lubinitsky, the track’s manager, said those fears are unfounded.

“There is no racing allowed, and anyone who is racing will be ejected from the premises,” Lubinitsky said.

He also said that because of liability concerns, spectators will not be allowed at the track. Only people who have registered to participate in the instructional programs offered at the facility will be allowed, he added.

Dev Kernan, who with family members owns a parcel of land consisting of hundreds of acres that straddle the Davenport and Harpersfield border, said he and other members of a grassroots group called Friends of Rural Life are convinced local officials made a colossal error when they approved the track.

“This is not an activity that is appropriate for this rural area,” Kernan said.

He and other neighbors said they were disappointed when the Harpersfield Planning Board met in executive session for approximately two hours Wednesday night and emerged with a resolution that allows the track to operate for a year. The arrangement, he said, requires Lubinitsky to provide the board monthly with noise, traffic and attendance data.

Liz Page, the secretary to the board as well as a reporter for the Mountain Eagle newspaper, said she wasn’t sure if she could release details of the board’s decision to a reporter for The Daily Star because the action followed an executive session.

Kernan called the provisions under which Lubinitsky is allowed to operate the track “as self-serving as they could possibly be.”

“It affords no protection to the local people,” he said.

Douglas Zamelis, an environmental attorney retained by the group of neighbors last week, said he is investigating the procedures used by town officials to permit the track. He said it was premature to discuss potential options.

Lubinitsky said the conditions imposed by the planning board officials are fair.

“This is something that is new for everyone,” he said, “and I’m glad we’re all going to be working together to make sure it is running professionally, running smoothly and running safely.”

Davenport Town Supervisor Dennis Valenti said Lubinitsky has encouraged the town of Davenport to put a new surface on Parker Schoolhouse Road, which is expected to be used by motorists coming and going to the track. At one point, he said, Lubinitsky offered $40,000 to help cover the cost of the paving, though he did not follow through with that offer, Valenti said.

Valenti said Davenport will eventually pave the road, but noted: “Davenport is not in the habit of underwriting private enterprise.”

Lubinitsky said the opening this weekend will be limited to a training program today followed by a test event Sunday. More events will be held at the track Mother’s Day weekend, he noted.