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Public promised a say on NASCAR

While Kitsap County citizens may not have an opportunity to vote directly about the disposition of a NASCAR racetrack, two county commissioners have promised a thorough public comment process.

“I don’t see us having a countywide ballot,” said North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen. “I don’t think we should do land use by election. But if money was involved it could be a different story.”

Endresen stressed that the county has not yet received any formal proposal from NASCAR. “If they were looking for us to put up $50 million, I would not support it,” she said.

“As soon as we get a proposal from NASCAR, we will begin holding public hearings immediately and will have as many as it takes,” said Central Kitsap Commissioner Patty Lent. “They will be neutral and factual.”

Lent and Endresen addressed the annual meeting of the West Sound Conservation Council during a detailed question-and-answer session on Wednesday night in Poulsbo.

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel, in whose district NASCAR would presumably locate, was ill and did not attend. However, she had already declined the invitation to address the group before her illness.

“Opposition to NASCAR will come from people who are philosophically opposed to any kind of growth and willing to make judgments before they get all of the facts,” said Lary Coppola, a member of the Kitsap County Planning Commission. “I think we need to keep an open mind. If this is a good deal, we want to pursue it. But if it’s the same deal they offered Snohomish, we’ll want to turn it down. We may say no, but we should know what we are saying no to.”

South Kitsap activist Tom Donnelly said that even though there are committed people on both sides, the majority will make their decisions based on an objective cost/benefit analysis. And this analysis doesn’t need to wait until the International Speedway Corp. submits a formal proposal.

Donnelly said at least two private studies are now in circulation, so much of the raw information is already available.

He said the county would most likely delay the study in order to save taxpayer’s money. And they could probably stall the land use application for a long enough period to conduct the study at that time.

“We can take a broad look at the subject in more detail before a proposal is made to see if we want it here in the first place,” Donnelly said.

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