F1 race­track’s fu­ture neigh­bors steer­ing to­ward op­ti­mism

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By Lind­sey Bomnin Amer­i­cAn-StAteS­mAn StAff lbomnin@states­man.com; 445 3812

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.”

James Brosher

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.