F1 racetrack’s future neighbors steering toward optimism
Cathy Olive, president of the Elroy Preservation Association, has lived in Del Valle for 28 years. She runs a petting zoo company called Traveling Zoo, with ponies, goats and chicks that call her 7-acre property home.
She also lives across the street from the future site of the Formula One racetrack, but she’s hesitant to wholeheartedly welcome her new neighbor — yet.
“I’m being cautiously optimistic after the meeting last night,” Olive said.
She said this seems to be the prevailing sentiment of the surrounding community after Monday night’s meeting between neighborhood representatives and Richard Suttle Jr., the race organizers’ attorney. But residents were thankful that the F1 developers let them in on the location of the track before the rest of the world knew.
“We could’ve woken up and read it in the paper, but they didn’t want to do that,” Olive said.
The announcement of the site comes on the heels of a three-year fight against Wandering Creek, a proposed subdivision planned to have 1,800 homes on small lots. Nearby residents said the racetrack is preferable.
“The difference between this and the tiny tract houses is that there are times when there will be no traffic,” Olive said. “With the houses, it would’ve been bad traffic all the time, 365 days out of the year.”
Still, FM 812 leading to the site only has two lanes, and Olive is unsure whether the city has enough time or money to expand the road.
The track would, however, generate much-needed income to the area through sales taxes. In a community with a Sonic burger stand, a Circle C market and a county prison but no grocery store, Olive said the track will help boost the library and the school system.
She said the track’s developers told them they would create gravel-filled parking lots to minimize paving and mitigate runoff in the area.
Jill Bauer, an association board member and Olive’s neighbor, said she’s pleased that the developers are mindful of the environment and the community. “We’re out here because we love our properties,” Bauer said. “It’s not a curse living out here.”
But Bauer and her husband also have a house on the Texas coast that they might retreat to during the races.
“It’s going to take the first year to see what happens,” Bauer said. “If it’s unbearable, we’ll go to the coast.”
Janie Miller, a real estate agent with Sky Realty in Del Valle, said she has no problem with the F1 racetrack except its location, which she said should be further away.
“There’s thousands of acres out here,” Miller said. “They could’ve put it anywhere.”
Royce Gustafson, neighbor to Olive and husband to another board member, attended the meeting Monday night and said he’s excited about the prospect of the track. A fan of NASCAR, he’s also interested in attending a race or two.
“It’s been a pretty peaceful place to live in all these years, and we knew change was coming,” Gustafson said. “Hopefully, it’ll be for the better.”
Cathy Olive, president of the Elroy Preservation Association, says a Formula One racetrack will bring fewer traffic problems than a dense subdivision that had also been proposed for the land.