Council denies raceway’s request for annexation

Leader Reporter/April 21, 2005
By Tim Ryan

Shawano officials said no on Wednesday to bringing the Midwest Amusement Park and its racetrack into the city.

The Common Council emerged from a two-hour closed session Wednesday night to unanimously deny a request by Midwest Amusement Park/USA International Raceway to annex the Town of Wescott property. Alderman Robert Erickson was not present.

“We certainly discussed a lot of the concerns,” said Mayor Lorna Marquardt.

However, the deciding factor was the opposition to the idea that had come from city residents.

“During the discussion time, the aldermen expressed the wishes of their constituents. They all said the constituents that called them and talked with them about this were not in support of bringing the racetrack into the City of Shawano,” Marquardt said.

“The council especially expressed concern about noise and are asking Shawano County and the Town of Wescott to put in place some ordinances that will monitor the noise,” Marquardt said. “They also asked for later race starting times on Sunday.”

City officials were asked in March to consider annexation of the race track property owned by one of the companies affiliated with R.C. Samanta Roy. The 39.83-acre property, located at W5901 County Road BE, was purchased from Water and Wheels Amusement Park in June 2003.

The Common Council met in closed session with the Wescott Town Board for the second time Wednesday night to discuss a host of annexation related issues.

Prior to the closed session, however, city and town officials raised a number of health, welfare and public safety concerns with racetrack manager Scott Paape.

Most of their questions dealt with the logistics of operating a track with events that could bring 15,000 to 30,000 people to the area.

The 30,000 attendance figure that had been used at previous meetings was an estimate at the high end, Paape said.

“More realistically, we expect around 15,000 people,” he said.

Paape said the racetrack is currently in negotiations with property owners to purchase land that could be used for parking. He declined to say who the property owners were.

He also said that one land owner in the area had agreed to allow part of his farm property to be used for parking.

The racetrack facility currently has 178 parking stalls for trailers, and 200 car stalls, as well as enough room for 150 cars in the campground area, Paape said.

Paape also said the racetrack has been looking at obtaining bleachers but at an estimated $1.5 million, he said, they are too expensive. He said the track is looking at the possibility of leasing bleachers.

Paape said he was not sure the racetrack facility has enough space for the number of people that might attend.

“Hopefully not,” he said. “Any businessman hopes they don’t have enough space. I would love to bring 50,000 people. That would be a wonderful problem.”

Paape said he would hope that people unable to get in would go to other local establishment.

“Hopefully they’ll go to the local bar or they’ll go to the local restaurant,” he said.

Paape said reserved tickets would be sold for the racetrack’s larger events.

Town of Wescott chairman Mike Schuler presented a draft of a special events ordinance under consideration by the town board. He said it was not drafted to address the racetrack but would cover special events taking place there as well.

Paape named some of the local businesses that the racetrack has contracted with, including Schoenike Septic and Toilet Rentals, Full Service Tents and B&J Graphics.

“We are giving back to the community and I have stated that to many, many a people in this community,” Paape told city and town officials. “I’m willing to work with anybody. But I need your help. We’re dealing with 30 years of hate in this town, and I tell you, until I moved up here, I never seen it. Once I moved here, I can’t believe it. I mean, I came from Milwaukee, and there’s a lot of hate there. I would like to try to patch it up.”

Neither Paape or Midwest Amusement Park manager Kal Gronvall were available for comment after the council decision.

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