Plans for drag strip hit a bump in the road

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

For the past year, Greene County businessmen Arthur Truss and Henry Harkness have been in negotiations to lease land from the Greene County Commission to open a drag racing track.

The commission recently sold timber on the property and cleared the land to ready it for construction, but when this was done Truss and Harkness were discouraged by what they saw.

With the trees out of the way, Harkness said, they got a closer look at the layout of the land and felt it was not a good situation for what they planned.

“The contour of the land is in such bad shape that it would cost an arm and a leg to get it straightened out,’ Harkness said. “We had some contractors come out and we got an enormous figure. Just to move the stumps would cost anywhere between $35,000 and $45,000.”

These costs, Harkness said, do not include grating and other costs. To get the land up to par, Harkness said, it would take a lot of money they could not get without owning the land.

“It is in bad shape and it is going to take a lot of money for us to get it to where we can even use it,” Harkness said. “We wont even own it and we have talked to our banker. Unless we own the property, they won’t even talk to us along that line.”

Their best bet, Harkness said, was probably to find another spot altogether.

Details of the lease were another concern, Truss said. The lease was reduced from a 30-year lease to a 20-year lease, which also made things difficult.

“That makes it even worse for us,” Truss said. “It is not even possible to consider putting $300,000 to $400,000 into that piece of property for a 20 year lease. Later on, someone might say we have to increase the price and that puts us in a very bad light.”

Truss agreed they should look at another location and purchase the land this time rather than lease.

“It would be ideal if we could locate another piece of land,” Truss said. “We would love to purchase it, but it needs to be doable.”

Both men said they wanted the track, but they also wanted an agreement suitable to their needs.

The commission recommended they come back with another proposal.

In other business, the commission:

Approved an alcohol beverage license for Mott Oil Inc. for retail beer and wine off premises only.

Approved the purchase of Americans with Disabilities Act voting machines.

Approved the commission to take bids for the purchase of garbage carts.