Monday, September 19, 2005

Handling of proposed Dixon Downs racetrack is exemplary

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Sep 17, 2005 - 11:21:53 pm PDT

Handling of racetrack is exemplary

By Daily Republic Staff

No one should fault the city of Dixon for doing everything it can to inform its citizens about the controversial Dixon Downs racetrack project proposed in the city.

The racetrack, planned for 260 acres outside the city's downtown core, undoubtedly will have a major influence on the city's future. That is why environmental impact reports are required for major development projects in communities.

Those reports for Dixon Downs are due out next week, some 1,800 pages that will address most of the concerns raised during the last few years since Magna Entertainment Corp. first hinted it would like to build the track and its entertainment components in Dixon.

What's unique is the length the city is going to make sure its citizens are knowledgeable about the Magna proposal. That is, if citizens take the time to peruse the documents.

Not only will there be an environmental impact study, but also a safety impact report, an assessment of social impacts, fiscal impacts and a revised plan for the city's northeast part of town. Dixon intends to provide copies of the document at City Hall and the library, and also will post them on the city's Web site and even burn some CDs so residents can learn more about the project.

And one more step. Normally, the review period for EIRs is 45 days. The City Council has asked that that period be extended to 60 days so the public has additional time to review the lengthy reports.

Magna plans to build the racetrack complex in two phases. The first phase would include a horse-racing and training facility, 1,400 horse stalls and 200,000 square-foot pavilion with simulcast technology and room for 5,000 race visitors. The second would involve a 1.2-million square-foot retail development with stores, restaurants, a theater, office space, a hotel and conference area.

While there is a strong opposition to the plan, there also are proponents who believe the complex will generate millions to Dixon's city coffers in years to come, and that would be a good thing.

Council members are expected to vote on the racetrack sometime this fall.

The city has done an admirable job providing information so citizens can influence the decision by the council using facts rather than pure emotion.

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