A ‘No’ in DenverMay 17th, 2007 by Steven Gardner
Steven Gardner writes:
You may have some recollection that ISC wants to build a track near Denver. On Tuesday there was a story in the Rocky Mountain News that led this way:
COMMERCE CITY – There’s a new sheriff in town. And he’s had it up to his white goatee with NASCAR.
In a sign that the political winds have shifted against building a superspeedway in Commerce City, new Mayor Paul -Natale and a majority of new council members poked some nails into the International Speedway Corp.’s tires Monday.
The city was considering a charter amendment “that would ban the city from offering economic incentives for a racetrack within nine miles of any residential subdivision.” It was a similar move to one passed in Aurora in 1999. Incidentally, ISC is looking at a site near there as well. Word on the street was ISC would seek about $250 million in state help and $2.5 million in incentives from the local entity.
On Thursday we learn the city won’t have to bother with the amendment. It’s not urgent, anyway.
Again in the Rocky Mountain News there is more:
The citizens revolted, and they got their way. NASCAR has veered away from Commerce City.
The property in Commerce City, only a few miles from the upscale Reunion subdivision, so roiled emotions that it changed the face of the City Council at the April elections. Most now on the council were elected by voters who oppose the track.
“You have to take a look at what the politics look like,” ISC spokesman Wes Harris said. But he added that the biggest factor in deciding against Commerce City had to do with the land parcels themselves.
Besides the somewhat parallel stories, there is another local connection to this. Chris Van Dyk from Citizens for More Important Things, a group that has consistently opposed subsidies for major sports venues here in Seattle, was according to Van Dyk hired by the Commerce City opposition group, The Commerce City Citizens & Business Alliance, to help them get to this day.
Van Dyk, who lives on Bainbridge Island, sent an e-mail saying as much.
The airport and the eagles in the refuge might have put up with the noise and traffic impacts from Earnhardt and Petty, but my clients weren’t much interested.
Van Dyk was among the long list of those who helped defeat the ISC push here. Most recently he was among those critical of the story I did about the legislator e-mails. He also provided one of the best metaphors for ISC’s funding plan, a metaphor I never got to use but always wanted to. After a county commissioner meeting he described ISC’s plan to take a percentage of sales taxes from three counties as filling a bathtub with 100 faucets. If you turn one off, do you really notice that it’s not there?
That was one reason Sens. Derek Kilmer and Phil Rockefeller talked about a performance guarantee.
You can see the text of Van Dyk’s e-mail from Thursday morning by clicking on the link below.
You may have noticed the attached story on the AP wire about NASCAR & Commerce City, Colorado.
The Commerce City Citizens & Business Alliance (C3BA) was my client. On April 3, we swept the City Council elections in Commerce City, Colorado, flipping the City Council from 5-4 in favor of NASCAR, to 5-4 against.
NASCAR wanted to place a new track, with significant tax subsidy, much like in Kitsap County, next to Denver’s Stapleton International Airport and the Rocky Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, and of course, about a mile from my clients’ homes. The airport and the eagles in the refuge might have put up with the noise and traffic impacts from Earnhardt and Petty, but my clients weren’t much interested.
NASCAR pulled out from Commerce City altogether two days after the leader of the anti-NASCAR forces, Jason McEldowney, was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Commerce City City Council. The vacancy was created by our coalition having also helped Councilmember Paul Natale win the Mayoral race. Jason’s appointment made the anti-NASCAR vote on the Council 6-3, plus the Mayor, for good measure.
Commerce City is a community of about 35,000 people, and continues to be receptive to, and encouraging of, business and economic development.
Although we wish NASCAR & ISC well whereever they may choose to propose locating a NASCAR track, we sincerely hope that they will perhaps better anticipate and understand the depth and concern of local opposition, in terms of the tax subsidies and environmental impacts of their proposed race tracks.
Chris Van Dyk
Bainbridge Media Group, Inc.