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State, county form NASCAR alliance

Representatives from Kitsap County visited Gov. Christine Gregoire’s office last week for a strategy session about the proposed local racetrack, then resolving to act together in response to any new information.

“We thought it would be important for us to all be on the same page,” said County Administrator Cris Gears, who led the county delegation. “There was the idea that the state was getting more information, which turned out to be untrue. It is mutually beneficial to share information as it comes in, so we should work together as a team.”

“It was more about finding what the page is,” said Marc Baldwin, an executive policy advisor to the governor. “The issue is to make sure that all the people who make the decisions have the best available information. We want to get a better sense of all the economic impacts will be.”

Baldwin said ”a serious cost-benefits analysis” is necessary to evaluate the project at this point.

In addition to Gears, the Kitsap group included Administrative Services Director Ben Holland, Department of Community Development Director Cindy Baker, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shelly Kneip and two consultants hired by the county.

Those on the governor’s staff included Irv Lefburg, Jim Schmidt, and Ta Win Lin from the Office of Financial Management, along with Baldwin.

The meeting lasted approximately two hours.

The governor’s office was asked to write a letter to the International Speedway Corp. (ISC), stating that the two branches of government have joined together.

Baldwin said drafts have gone back and forth over the last week, and the letter will go out as soon as the signature sequence is resolved.

Lefberg said the meeting went well.

“We wanted to share as much information as possible,” he said. “We haven’t been holding back anything from each other, but we realized that we share a need for more precise information, and all the local impacts.”

Baker, whose department will be most affected by the ISC’s arrival due to permitting requirements, said the meeting was helpful but “we came away not knowing any more than when we arrived. There are still a lot of questions.”

Progress on the track is on hold until the ISC submits its proposal to outline the specifics of the public/private partnership.

ISC spokesman Stann Tate said there was no definitive plans as to when the proposal would arrive.

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