Virginia Dale and Ellen Smith
A real estate developer wants to build a motorsports complex in an Oak Ridge industrial park. The site has significant ecological and recreational value. The US Department of Energy (DOE) transferred the Horizon Center land for industrial use with major restrictions to minimize environmental impacts. Also, the adjacent Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement (BORCE) is now protected for both wildlife and recreation and has popular high-quality greenway trails.
The proposed development would destroy natural assets that DOE committed to protect and adversely affect recreational users and nearby residents. There are questionable claims of economic benefits of the speculative proposal. The developer claims are not supported by a feasibility study or a business plan. Industrial development would yield greater public benefits.
This development cannot happen without approvals from City of Oak Ridge and DOE. Yet the DOE deed limits the site to industrial use and restricts development of a system of natural corridors and buffers.
We urge you to send letters or emails to the editor of the Oak Ridger and Oak Ridge City Council (CityCouncil@oakridgetn.gov) with copies to Mark Watson & Jack Suggs (City of OR), Debbie Duren (TDEC), Shannon Young (TWRA), and John Shewairy (US DOE). Requests to be made to the City are to maintain current industrial zone for Horizon Center and not allow motor racetrack in Horizon Center (and seek out light industry instead). Points to be made to DOE are for it to recognize its legal obligation to (1) retain the recreational benefits and ecological services on the BORCE and (2) preserve the natural corridors & buffers in the Horizon Center.
To learn more about the history of the Horizon Center, the BORCE, and the impacts the motorsports complex will have on those areas and the surrounding neighborhoods, join us on Thursday, February 4 at 7:00 for a Zoom meeting co-sponsored by AFORR, OR4RD, & TCWP.
To attend the meeting, please register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwoc-6gqzkjHdL8mRdKRagS0kNKzkGZviBy After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.