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Letter to the Editor

Racetracks and homes can coexist in East County

A reader writes that Manatee County needs to speed up timeline for public pickleball courts.

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  • | 11:00 a.m. April 16, 2024
  • East County
  • Opinion
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I want to comment on Lesley Dwyer’s article in this week’s edition (Will new residents sound off about race track noise?) as to encroachment east and the effect of noise from the drag strip and speedway on S.R. 64, and on these new home subdivisions.

My first duty station in the Navy was aboard a ship that was home-ported in Concord, California. One of my favorite off-duty memories was spending an evening at the (nearby) Antioch Motor Speedway. We would have some suds and watching the racing action. At that time, Antioch was just a very small riverfront town and the speedway was a major attraction, bringing folks and cash from the larger cities in Contra Costa County and the San Francisco Bay Area. I spent the years 1971-74 there then came back for subsequent shipboard duty tours 1980-1984 and 1989-1995. The Antioch area grew in leaps and bounds during those 24-plus years, ever expanding eastward in what was known there as East County (how about that?). 

The Antioch Speedway faced then what our racing facilities here will face over the next decade. That is ever increasing residential density moving east versus noise from these (racing) facilities. 

I have a few suggestions:

  • Owners of the Bradenton Motorsports Park and Freedom Factory should do some research as to how the Antioch Speedway overcame the resident vs track noise issue over the years. I believe that facility was founded in 1961and then over the next four decades the town of Antioch and multiple residential zones around the Speedway started crowding around it. Noise issues did arise, yet the speedway is still alive and prospering. There must be some record of how the speedway (then and now) co-exists with the homeowners there.
  • The Manatee County Commission should do the same research and should also consider passing some sort of strong ordinance protecting these racing facilities from the inevitable lawsuits that are bound to launch once the residential areas get close enough that noise issues arise. I don’t think it is enough that prospective buyers in that area are required to sign a Buyer Beware document. The county needs to protect these businesses.
  • Builders: The County Commission should further protect these facilities by requiring the builders of those subdivisions to take steps to protect those areas from noise. Simple things like full sound insulation for east facing exterior walls and subdivision eastern boundary sound walls. Those costs need to be borne by builders and not by the owners of the Motorsports Park and Freedom Factory.

In my mind, it is inevitable that there will be noise related litigation. It is patently unfair to the owners (of these 50-year-old businesses) to have to undergo that litigation or to make major accommodations.  It is our government’s job to set the proper path forward so that any noise issue quickly becomes a non-issue.


— Rick Schuknecht, East County

I am writing to express my disappointment regarding the lack of progress on the Premier Sports Complex racket center in Lakewood Ranch. I don't understand the continued foot dragging on a project that is so obviously needed. I hear excuses that Lakewood Ranch has plenty of pickleball courts. That's simply not true. Unless you live in a gated community with amenities that include pickleball courts, you are left to search for what few public courts are available.

Had I known I would be bitten by this pickleball bug when I moved into the area, I would have looked for communities with pickleball courts. Pickleball is exploding in popularity and will continue to do so. It's so easy to get started, and then one realizes the mastering of it is a never-ending journey.

So I and many of my friends and neighbors were excited when teased with a summer of 2023 date for the Premier Park courts to be complete. Then it was revised to November 2024. And now I hear it's been hijacked for a date in June in 2026?

I understand the design committee wanting to get all the requirements and needs met for the aquatic center. But why should this drag down the racket facility? Do we not have the planning skills or funds to allow the racket center project to start now while the aquatic center gets finalized?

I urge our county officials to prioritize the development of the Premier Park racket center and take steps to expedite its construction. Investing in projects like these is essential for ensuring the health, happiness, and prosperity of our community both now and in the future.

— Thomas Hirt, Lakewood Ranch


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