The proposed development of a racetrack in River Falls has been canceled, according to Community Development Director Amy Peterson. Instead of using the land to build a racetrack, the developer will look to use the land for a housing development.

City Council member Diane Odeen posted on Aug. 19 about Neal Krzyzaniak’s plans to pull the plug on the project. She said her post is information received from Peterson.

“Update on the proposed auto racetrack: the developer has confirmed to city staff that he is no longer considering that development, because it is clear the community does not want it. Instead, he will be considering a housing development for the property,” Odeen’s post read.

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City council member Diane Odeen's Facebook post regarding the racetrack proposal. Courtesy of the KCC South Fork Advocacy Committee website.

The racetrack idea was proposed by Neal Krzyzaniak of the Kinnik Development Group. The project was met with opposition from residents who were concerned about the effects a racetrack would have on the city. 

Odeen’s post came one day before a rally was planned to oppose the racetrack. The rally still took place on Aug. 20 at Veterans Park.

The Kinni Corridor Collaborative organized the event. People could show up to sign a petition advocating against the proposed racetrack.

The Kinni Corridor Collaborative, known officially as the KCC South Fork Advocacy Committee, is an non-profit action team. The team runs a Facebook page and website.

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Ann Kelly-Shore is an administrator for the KCC South Fork Advocacy Committee. She helped organize the rally. Sam Fristed/Star-Observer.

Ann Kelly-Shore is an administrator for the page. She said the rally was planned as opposition to Krzyzaniak’s proposed meeting on Aug. 22 before it was canceled. No reason for the cancellation was given.

“We wanted to come out here and raise awareness about this racetrack idea,” Kelly-Shore said.

Since the racetrack idea has been proposed, it has been met with opposition from residents. 

One resident who came to protest was Andrew Sakschek. He called the proposal “detrimental” to the city.

Sakschek has a background in environmental studies. The issue affects him because of his background and connection to River Falls.

“I grew up swimming in this river,” Sakschek said. “To see a racetrack be built and ruin the river would be unacceptable.”

Hagen Gamradt traveled from St. Cloud to attend the protest and support Sakschek. Gamradt believes the racetrack proposal is a bad idea.

“I want to have a livable Earth, I want this city to be a liveable place. Having a racetrack would ruin the beauty of what makes this place great,” Gamradt said.

Not everyone who at the rally showed support. One person drove by revving his engine and holding his thumbs down. 

“Those are the type of people who want a racetrack,” Sakschek said with a laugh.

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Hagen Gamradt (left) and Andrew Sakschek (right) both attended the rally to show their opposition to the project. Sakschek called the idea "detrimental". Sam Fristed/Star-Observer.

Don Leake helped organize the rally. He said the group continued to hold the rally despite Krzyzaniak’s canceled meeting.

“If he wouldn’t hold his meeting, we will,” Leake said.

Leake said the support from the community has been good. He thanked people signing the petition and vowing to inform citizens about the proposal.

Leake believes River Falls has no place for a racetrack.

“It’s not that kind of town, and I’ve lived here nearly 40 years,” he said.

Opponents of the racetrack cite numerous issues with the project, including environmental impacts on the Kinnickinnic River, increased traffic and noise pollution. Kelly-Shore said the proposal goes against the city’s comprehensive plan. The plan designates “future land use” zones in the existing plan.

“It goes against the views of the city,” Kelly-Shore said. “Personally I don’t see how the City Council would approve a plan like this.”

This story is developing. The River Falls Journal will add information when it becomes available. 

(1) comment

Candace Bettendorf

A 500-acre housing development? Just what we need. Not.

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