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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 4:36 am | Fair 48º

 
 
 
 

Lompoc Motorsports Park Hits Major Roadblock With Council Vote

Lompoc's proposed motorsports park stalled again after the City Council declined to keep the project alive amid another round of emotional pleas from supporters and opponents.

In divided votes, the council on Tuesday night rejected several recommendations from city staff to move the project forward or to apply for another state grant.

Councilmen Dirk Starbuck and Jim Mosby voted against the motions.

“I cannot support moving this forward, I cannot support it being on city property, and I cannot support another application for a grant,” said Councilwoman Jenelle Osborne. 

The park proposed by a subcommittee of the Lompoc Valley Park, Recreation & Pool Foundation calls for the phased development of off-highway vehicle tracks, pit areas, motocross arenas, grandstands, a 1/8-mile drag strip, and a vehicle storage structure. 

The park is proposed for 39 acres of city-owned land at the Lompoc Airport.

City Manager Patrick Wiemiller said the matter reached a “practical impasse,” adding that he needed to talk to motorsports park representatives to determine if the grant is critical to their ultimate ability to fund the motorsports park. 

“At this point, we’re at a functional stopping point,” Wiemiller said. “I probably want to meet with the foundation and find out if they have any other ideas on how they’d like to proceed if there’s any more work or are we in agreement that right now we’re at a suspension point.”

In 2013, the city was awarded a $1 million state grant targeted to help pay costs of the project’s environmental review. 

However, the city wound up providing an unsecured line of credit to the motorsports committee while waiting for the state to reimburse those funds, causing angst. 

City staff said the state has refunded most of the money requested, $213,263, with a reimbursement of than $28,440 still pending.

“We have to be fiscally responsible here,” Councilman Victor Vega said.

The grant’s three-year term expired Dec. 30 with approximately $700,000 unspent.

The project also has encountered multiple hurdles, including doubts about whether the Federal Aviation Administration would approve a non-aeronautical use for airport land and would require a new Airport Layout Plan. 

Officials also determined the committee must complete a federal National Environmental Protection Act review.

A conflict between Skydive Santa Barbara and the motorsports park’s proposed site also arose.

“Because of difficulties with the design of the project and the landing area for Skydive Santa Barbara, we are currently not able to proceed with the project,” Planning Manager Lucille Breese said.

Threats of lawsuits have come along with the project during the review process, and the Lompoc Valley Community Coalition already alerted the city about plans to sue the city and motorsports park committee, City Attorney Joe Pannone said.

Mosby said he still has faith in the group leading efforts to build the park. Before joining the City Council, he led the foundation.

“i believe a project can be built at that place. I believe the city of Lompoc would qualify for more grant funds,” Mosby said. 

Before the council acted, a stream of speakers told members why they should, or shouldn’t, keep the project alive.

A resident threatened a lawsuit over what he called “this abomination” planned for land a mile from his house. 

“I’m gonna hear it. I’m gonna smell it. I’m gonna have to deal with the traffic. I’m tired of it,” Ronald Mose said. “I’m tired of jacking around with this thing. We’ll see you in court.”

On the other side, a pair of local brothers involved professionally in motocross and their father spoke about what the sport has meant to them. 

"Riding my dirt bike, I learned how to have discipline and how to have goals," said Adam Enticknap, who pledged to tout Lompoc to his followers in the motorcycle community.

“We feel there’s still a great interest in our project, and we encourage you to help us make tomorrow’s history by making your decision for us tonight,” said Will Schuyler, a 77-year resident of Lompoc and vice chairman of the motorsports group. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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