The proposed Thunderbolt Racetrack in Millville is definitely a political football. While most folks are in agreement that development in the area is good, the racetrack has many issues associated with it.
- The track is near residential areas. There is a concern from those citizens about the quality of life in their neighborhoods.
- The track would be located on the southeastern side of the airport. This land is generally wooden areas, but land which has been earmarked for development in the city’s master plan dating back to the early 1960s. Across the street is Bevan Wildlife Management Area.
- The city passed an ordinance which would cap the noise level on the main track at 80 decibels. At a mile away, it is reported that it will sound like a vacuum cleaner running in your house.
- The city has not put any restrictions on the dirt oval track.
- The track would run 40 weeks of the year.
- Most of the traffic would arrive from those coming through Millville. The only way to currently do that is from Rt. 49 to Cedar St. This junction is controlled by a blinking light. Each morning and afternoon, Millville is bogged down with “rush hour” traffic jams. The four lights along 49 are not sequenced for efficiency. Turning left from 49 onto Cedar occurs only by the good graces of those on 49 who left the cars pass. The only reason drivers would permit this is because the traffic has backed up through the intersection because of the light at 49 and Buck St. This backs up on the overpass to the Maurice River. Unless another pass over the river is built, the traffic issues can only worsen.
So, those are the issues. There is a solution to be found somewhere, but it is not happening.
Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and its Tributaries, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Millville to stop the development of the racetrack. It has secured the services of Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic. This clinic seeks to help protect New Jersey environmental concerns.
But Cumberland County freeholder Lou Magazzu (D) has stepped up the rhetoric. At the 19 April 2005 Millville City Commission meeting, Magazzu was present with his Cumberland County Community College class. He spoke about the lawsuit by calling members of Citizens United as outsiders and claiming we were now at war over the issue.
State senator Nick Asselta (R-1) has joined the fray. He doesn’t think the taxpayer-supported Law Center should be used to sue the city. He is so against this that he has publicly leaned on Rutgers President Richard McCormick to get the law center to back off.
And the politics get dirtier. Magazzu has now called for an investigation into the Dun-Rite Sand & Gravel Co. The operation uses an access road in a federally protected river corridor. He wants to see how the sand company’s actions impact the environment.
What does that have to do with the racetrack? Dun-Rite is owned by Peter Galetto. Galetto’s wife, Jane Galetto, is the president of Citizens United.
Isn’t this lovely? If you have a difference of opinion with a freeholder, he will call the DEP on you. Splendid. This is politics at its worse.
There are legitimate concerns about the racetrack. At the 3 May 2005 Millville City Commission meeting, Commissioner Derella stated that the city desired to develop this track of land. He also stated that there would be noise and it would affect the citizens in the area. Why then are our elected officials upping the angst over this issue?
Asselta, Magazzu, and the Millville City Commission have agreed to back the racetrack. The reacetrack is represented by Gary Wodlinger. Mr. Wodlinger stated on 19 April that Mrs. Galetto is nothing more than an economic terrorist. Nice.
Cumberland County deserves better representation than those who support this kind approach to matters. Defending this approach to a lawsuit signifies to me that there is more than meets the eye.
Why doesn’t the city look for other development of the land that would not create the noise issues that are going to impact the area so much? The opposition to the development is not that open space is being used, but that what will be put there is so loud. Surely there are other businesses who would like the tax breaks the city has offered the racetrack developers.
Until then, I shall voice my opinion on this kind of politics Tuesday in the voting booth.
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