Westside residents came out in droves to talk to Arshot reps about the company’s possible use of Cooper Stadium.
Ever since Arshot Investment Corp. announced their proposal to redevelop the stadium into a multi-purpose complex with a racetrack, opinions on the matter have been firmly split.
Some residents believe a track would have a positive economic impact on the area. Others worry about the impact the noise from a track would make on the area.
On April 21, the Southwest Area Commission held a special public meeting where residents were given the opportunity to hear from Arshot developers and have their questions answered. The residents came out en masse.
Over the course of the two-and-a-half hour meeting, developer Bill Schottenstein, attorney George McCue, and noise study consultant Chris Menge explained how they envision the complex and gave the results of their noise study.
According to the Arshot team, the Cooper Park Complex would include a half-mile racetrack, hotel, restaurant, conference center, an automotive dealership and a cutting edge Automotive Research and Technical Training Center.
“There are no plans for NASCAR or Indy-type races,” said Menge, the principal consultant and senior vice-president of noise assessment and control at Harris Miller Miller and Hanson, Inc. “It would be the typical run of the mill stock cars, not the top-tier circuit, if you will. These will be second-tier vehicles.”
Menge also made sure to note several times that there would be two sound barriers up to 35 feet surrounding the complex that would trap noise inside the racetrack and would be in compliance with the City of Columbus noise ordinance. He also added the racetrack noise generated would not likely reach above 65 decibels with the barriers in place.
“I know there has been some talk about the effectiveness of noise barriers, but they are effective,” he said. “As long as the material is well built and well designed, a noise barrier will provide a lot of noise reduction.”
Still, residents remained skeptical of Menge’s assessment.
“What scares me is if the development plans succeed and the (noise) study is not correct,” said Paul Burke.
“Computer models fail all the time,” Jerome Smith said.
Arshot used SoundPLAN for the Cooper Park racetrack noise study, which is software that specializes in computer stimulations of noise and air pollution situations.
Menge said all of their mathematical models were validated through noise measurement, and used a “worst case model” when factoring in all of the potential noise impacts, such as the speed of the race cars.
“I have a high degree of confidence in the results,” he said.
Not all of the feedback Arshot got from the 100 plus residents in attendance was negative.
“I believe in Cooper Park,” said Helen Noltmeyer.
She said the complex would bring in jobs to the area as well as revenue. “In a time of recession, what more could you ask for? We need jobs and renovation. Parks are wonderful, but we are hungry for the nuts and bolts of life.”
Resident Appollonia Tobin called Cooper Park “the most awesome opportunity for the Westside,” and Dublin resident Jon Beerman said it would be a great opportunity for a place “with a stigma attached to it as a rundown and forgotten area.”
The commission said they would not vote in favor or oppose the project until they hear from the sound consultant of the racetrack opposition group ROAR (Redevelop Our Area Responsibly). That group has plans to attend the May 19 Southwest Area Commission meeting, which will take place at 7 p.m. at the New Horizons United Methodist Church, located at 1665 Harrisburg Pike.