There will be a briefing on Monday afternoon about the proposed Oak Ridge Motorsports Park at Horizon Center, and you can watch it online.
Oak Ridge Today has reported that the proposed project could cover more than 300 acres at Horizon Center, an industrial and business park in west Oak Ridge, and it could cost more than $50 million.
In February, H.E. Bittle III of Hardin Valley Land Partners, the potential developer, told city officials that the planned motorsports park would have a road course that is suitable for events sanctioned by the FIA (Federation Internationale de L’Automobile) such as Formula E, Indy Car, IMSA, NASA, and other sanctioning bodies.
Besides the race course, the motorsports park would have an amphitheater with a mix of permanent and lawn seating for more than 7,000 people, similar to the Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Bittle said.
Other planned amenities, he said, include a karting track, paddock club, club house, restaurants, pro shop, garages, day and overnight lodging, meeting and conference space, a recreational vehicle park, and public facilities that would include walking trails and outdoor meeting spaces.
It’s not clear if there has been any change to the plan since February.
The Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board, owners of Horizon Center, has not yet taken action on the matter, said Parker Hardy, president of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce. An earlier in-person public meeting on the proposed project was canceled due to COVID-19.
The Monday afternoon briefing is for the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. It’s a virtual meeting scheduled to start at 4 p.m, and the briefing will be given by Rusty Bittle of Hardin Valley Land Partners.
“Realizing that the development is a project of community interest, the Chamber’s board is taking the unusual action of opening the virtual briefing for public viewing,” Hardy said. “As time permits, there will be an opportunity for viewers to submit questions.”
The Chamber’s office is not open to the public due to COVID-19, but anyone who wants to learn more about the proposed motorsports park can watch it online at https://www.oakridgechamber.org/oak-ridge-motorsports-park starting at 4 p.m. Monday. The virtual briefing is scheduled to end at 5 p.m.
No action will be taken. The session is simply a briefing for the board, Hardy said.
“The Chamber, as a private not-for-profit organization engaged in economic development within the city, has expressed an interest in learning more and is appreciative of Mr. Bittle’s willingness to share the concept with our board,” Hardy said.
Those who have supported the project have said the Horizon Center property is perfectly contoured for a track, and they have cited the potential economic benefits. But skeptics have worried about potential noise, the deed restrictions that are in place at Horizon Center, and the potential disturbances to natural areas near the proposed site.
in February, the Oak Ridge City Council expressed interest in a proposed test track and research facility or motorsports park at Horizon Center, although Council didn’t have a specific plan to consider or endorse.