Kalamazoo Speedway Fans Sound Off Against Noisy Track Debate

Posted at 3:15 PM, Feb 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-25 23:43:01-05

ALAMO TOWNSHIP, Mich.-An estimated 500 people packed into Alamo Elementary School on Monday evening to voice their opinions about a proposed noise ordinance that could impact the Kalamazoo Speedway, a local race track that has been in business in the township for 64 years.

Public comment on the issue was supposed to take place in early February, but because of the massive turnout,  the Alamo Township Board of  Trustees had to reschedule it for a bigger venue.

On Monday, the board got an earful, mostly from residents who are worried about how noise restrictions could impact business at the local race track.

“The gas station is gone, the corner store is gone, what else do you want to shut down,” said resident Mark Witt.

Most of the public comments were in favor of the Speedway and against any noise restrictions.

The debate began about 14 months ago when the Alamo Township Board started looking into updating its 1974 noise ordinance with specific decibel restrictions after several residents complained about noise in the area.

Township leaders were looking at capping the track at 82 decibels for the majority of operations and 55 decibels after 11 p.m.

To compare loudness, normal conversation measures 60 to 65 decibels. A vacuum cleaner is between 60 and 82 decibels, according to noise comparison charts.

“It is my intention to come up with a fair solution that is a win for everyone,” said Alamo Township Supervisor Lou Conti.

After much discussion, the board agreed to table the noise ordinance until March.

“We kind of just wasted four hours and not a lot of has been done,” said Kalamazoo Speedway Owner Gary Howe, who has been working with the township to come up with a deal.

For now, the race track rules will not change. However, the Alamo Township Board has agreed on a six-step plan that would conduct research at the track and take decibel readings over the upcoming season.

“We take readings six times a year at our track and we are in the 85 to 92 (decibel) range at the property line, the main thing is semi trucks are much louder,” explains Howe.

He says 82 decibels is not a realistic number.

Howe has been working with the township to come up with a deal.

“We are just trying to compromise, so we can stay in business and hopefully logic will prevail,” said Howe.

The Kalamazoo Speedway season begins in April and runs until October with about 32 races.