NASCAR abandons Staten Island
International Speedway Corp. (ISC), whose plans to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island set off a "near riot" at a public hearing, announced the sale of the site to a Texas company at a $30 million loss yesterday.
A source told the Staten Island Advance that KB Holdings, the buyer, was a recently-incorporated spin-off of UTEX Environmental Services. UTEX is currently competing for a contract with the Port Authority to process the toxins out of "dredging spoils" from the Harbor. A UTEX representative said earlier this year that if they got the contract, they planned to buy up Staten Island shoreline properties and use cleaned-up harbor muck as landfill.
Local environmentalists aren't comfortable with that. Beryl Thurman of the North Shore Waterfront Conservancy, which supports public access to the shoreline, is concerned about contamination from the fill. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out. It's not about how much more toxins you could put there -- it's about how much you can eliminate at this point. I would seriously hope that before anyone allows them to do anything, that the environmental protection agencies get involved." ISC was fined two years ago for increasing pollution levels on the site.
ISC abandoned plans to build an 80,000-seat NASCAR track and retail mall on the property in 2006 after supporters got testy with opponents at a public meeting attended by local politicians (one of whom, then-City Councilman Andrew Lanza, was assaulted by a supporter). Opponents were concerned about environmental impact and strain on Staten Island's already overtaxed roads.
Staten Island Republican eminence Guy Molinari was a paid lobbyist for ISC in their attempt to build the track.