Legislators to discuss racetrack proposal

A meeting to discuss all aspects of the proposed Kitsap County NASCAR racetrack is scheduled for Monday, giving local elected officials a chance to exchange information and determine what questions they need to answer.

“We will all be better informed after we leave this meeting,” said Kitsap County Administrator Cris Gears. “The legislators will become more aware of the local concerns, while county officials will learn about state interests.”

The invitation to the meeting was sent out last week to the commissioners to a range of public officials; U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, state legislators, county elected officials and staff, judges and municipal officeholders.

Invitations were also extended to the governor’s office and the state Office of Financial Management.

The agenda is not yet final, but will include input from consultants Hugh Spitzer and Peter Moy. Both were hired by the county earlier this year to help sift through the information generated by the racetrack proposal.

The meeting will take place from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Norm Dicks Center in Bremerton. While it is open to the public, the controlled discussion format will not provide any opportunity for public testimony.

The meeting takes place almost three weeks after the ISC announced details of its public/private partnership proposal, which requires the state to evenly split the $345 million cost.

This has drawn some criticism from observers — like State Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Kingston) — who are opposed to public funding of private facilities.

“If they want to do this on their own dime, that’s fine,” Appleton said. “But I’m against using public money to fund a private facility. It’s a matter of principle.”

A parallel information-gathering effort will come from a volunteer task force, to put forth a recommendation about the impact of the proposed racetrack on the local quality of life.

The task force will contain from nine to 15 members and will meet during January and February. Researching how such facilities have affected other communities will be part of its charter.

As of Monday afternoon, the county had received 26 applications for the task force. The deadline for applications was the end of day on Tuesday.

Volunteer services coordinator Jan Koske said she expected a few more to trickle in, as many people wait until the last minute to submit their applications.

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