City Says Cottage Grove Speedway Must Close

August 23, 2012

The Cottage Grove Speedway has been ordered to shut down because its owner has failed to make progress on city-mandated environmental and safety upgrades.

An ordinance requires owner Bob Farwell to have submitted engineering drawings and permit applications by now for extending fire hydrants and water and sewer lines to the speedway, as well as plans for a new secondary access road for emergency vehicles.

The city said Farwell has not complied with the ordinance and has also failed to complete building permit applications for racetrack structures, including the track archway, that have already been built.

“We’ve given them additional time already,” said Howard Schesser, the city’s community development director. “They just haven’t performed in even getting the paperwork in.”

The dirt oval off Highway 99 has been in business since the 1950s. Farwell bought the property in 2008 for just over $1 million, according to a deed filed in Lane County.

Kevin Lafky, a speedway attorney, told The Register-Guard newspaper he hopes to persuade the city to keep the track open and allow scheduled races, including one this Saturday. The upgrades will cost $150,000 to $200,000, and Farwell needs the income from operations to pay for them, he said.

“None of these improvements are in any way time-sensitive,” Lafky said Monday. “None impact in any way the safety or operation or daily management of the speedway.”

The racetrack has no fire hydrants and only a small 2-inch water line that would provide no pressure for firefighters, Schesser said. There is an existing emergency access route, but it’s a roundabout path that runs through a golf course, he said.

“We just want a more direct way,” Schesser said.

In a letter dated Aug. 13, he reminded Farwell that by November he must create fire lanes on site and get them inspected by the city. Also by then, Farwell must install an interceptor for sediment and oil in the pit area to purify rainwater before it flows into the adjacent Coast Fork of the Willamette River.

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