Clark County Fairgrounds moves forward with boat racing plans


The Clark County Fairgrounds wants to move forward with its plan to host racing events at its 125-acre lake, which leaders say could draw thousands of tourists and millions of dollars in revenue to Springfield.

The Springfield City Planning Board approved a re-zoning request this week to allow the 185-acre property on Laybourne Road to hold racing events. Springfield city commissioners will vote on it in a few weeks.

If approved, the fairgrounds will host a few water events this year, Clark County Fairgrounds Executive Director Dean Blair said. Nothing has been scheduled at this point, but some dates in June and July are being considered for power boat and solar boat races, Blair said.

WATCH: Clark County tests power boat races

Last November three champion drivers from across the country traveled to the area to test how races could be held on the lake. Then fairgrounds leaders were invited to the Motorsports Trade Show in Indianapolis to talk about the plans, Blair said. The American Boat Association also discussed using the lake in Springfield, he said.

“It’s a great way to promote the community,” Blair said.

The lake could be used now without any upgrades, he said, but improvements could bring higher profile events.

Blair is unsure how much it may cost to build the first phase of the project, but told the News-Sun in November it could be about $200,000 to build infrastructure. Phase one development plans are being drawn up, including a gravel parking lot, lights and a boat ramp, he said, but it’s unclear what it will cost. They’re currently looking for corporate sponsors, he said.

“We would love to see corporate naming rights on the lake,” Blair said.

MORE: Clark County to buy old armory, possible site for new hotel

He hopes to secure funding immediately and have phase one completed by early summer.

The fairgrounds has already received a $25,000 grant from the Springfield Foundation for the improvements, which Blair said would allow them to host retail boat shows.

The events will be held during the day and only on a few dates per year, he said. A majority of the activity will take place on the Laybourne Road side of the lake.

Springfield resident Mary Martin wrote a letter to the planning board opposing the plan due to the noise generated by the boats. The lake is located directly behind Martin’s house, she said. The boats made considerable noise during the trial in November, Martin said.

“There is nothing to buffer the sound and it will have a major impact on my enjoyment of my home,” Martin wrote.

MORE LOCAL STORIES: Read the latest news from Michael Cooper and Katherine Collins

Martin wants a sound test performed at the lake, similar to a noise test performed during a similar request to build an auto racing track at the fairgrounds in the 1990s.

“The noise from 20 power boats will affect residences for miles,” Martin wrote. “These home owners should be included in any discussion of a zoning change.”

The lake won’t become public in the future and will only be used on selected dates, Blair said. The key is that it’s private, fenced and admission can be charged. The events will also be held during the day, he said.

“This is not a public park,” he said. “It’s not something where you can just drive up and put your wave runner in the water.”

The lake is a perfect spot for boat racing, neighbor Paula Collinsworth said on Thursday afternoon. The area already has the Fairgrounds and Champions Center nearby, which brings traffic and noise, she said.

RELATED: Love’s has ceremony for Springfield site, donates $2K to United Way

“It’s a great way to build up everything in this area,” Collinsworth said. “I’ve got front row seats right here. I’ve got a beautiful place to watch it.”

The fairgrounds also is looking at creating a course for cross country runners.

Some local schools have expressed interest in moving cross country races to the fairgrounds course, which is being designed to go around the lake. Runners would start and finish at the grandstand, Blair said. The venue would also allow booster clubs to sell T-shirts and concessions in one designated location, he said.

SOCIAL MEDIA:FOLLOW REPORTER MICHAEL COOPER ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.

The fairgrounds wants to bring major high school and college events, such as the regional and state tournaments, he said. It will also host a 5K as part of the Clark County Fair this year, Blair said.

The course will be built and maintained through a partnership with the forestry class at the Springfield-Clark Career Technical Center, Blair said. It will also partner with the Global Impact STEM Academy on other community projects.

FIVE NEWS-SUN MUST READ STORIES

Overdose epidemic spreads, strains Springfield first responders

Coroner: January record month for Clark County overdose deaths

SPECIAL REPORT: Healthy Springfield

Retailer files for bankruptcy, Upper Valley Mall store’s future unclear

Historic downtown Springfield site may become year-round marketplace



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Highlights from first Ohio Governor’s Debate in Dayton
Highlights from first Ohio Governor’s Debate in Dayton

Ohio’s major-party governor candidates were harshly critical of each other in a spirited first debate Wednesday, jabbing each other over contrasting policy positions on opioids, abortion and e-schools and poking the other’s record in public office as a failure. The debate was hosted by the University of Dayton. Cox Media Group Ohio was...
How people are reacting to the first governor debate on Twitter
How people are reacting to the first governor debate on Twitter

The governor debate in Dayton Wednesday night was a hot topic on Twitter. At one point, #OHgovdebate was trending nationally. Here’s a look at what some had to say about the testy debate between Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray:
Green Party candidate spends debate on Dayton sidewalk
Green Party candidate spends debate on Dayton sidewalk

As Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine prepared to debate face-to-face Wednesday, people protesting the policies of both candidates for Ohio governor also showed up divided on the issues, including who’s even allowed to debate.. Constance Gadell-Newton, the Green Party candidate for governor, was only to be seen or heard from...
Ohio Governor’s Race: Who is Mike DeWine?
Ohio Governor’s Race: Who is Mike DeWine?

If you don’t know who Mike DeWine is, perhaps you’re new to Ohio. For more than four decades, the Republican has been a fixture of Ohio politics: local prosecutor, state lawmaker, lieutenant governor, member of Congress and state attorney general. Now the 71-year-old Cedarville resident wants to cap off his career with Ohio governor, which...
Ohio governor race: Who is Richard Cordray?
Ohio governor race: Who is Richard Cordray?

For all but four of the past 28 years, Republicans have held a firm grip on the Ohio governor’s office. Democrat Richard Cordray wants to break that streak. Less than a year ago, Cordray jumped into the race for Ohio governor, elbowed out other contenders and grabbed 62.2 percent of the vote in a six-way primary. He is running for governor against...
More Stories