CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) – Residents with ties to Southside Speedway are expressing concerns about the property’s future, with a community meeting scheduled for Thursday evening to discuss ideas for the Zone of special interest Genito / 288, which encompasses the closed short track.
At its meeting on June 23, 2021, the Chesterfield County Supervisory Board approved the transfer of funds to Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority (EDA) to purchase the former Southside Speedway property at the intersection of Genito Road and Oak Lake Boulevard.
The 47.1-acre property, which consists of three parcels straddling Genito Road, is currently zoned for General Commercial (C-5) uses, allowing for more intense commercial uses, such as auto repair, heavy equipment rental, sale and rental of RVs. , sale of prefabricated houses, yard for sale of construction materials, sale of sheds and carports, self-storage facility, recycling center and storage.
The decades-old Southside Speedway closed permanently in 2020. On December 11 of the same year, a letter was posted on the track’s Facebook page, detailing its closure after the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since then, local residents linked to the highway have hoped for its eventual reopening, concerns about its future heightening after Chesterfield County has announced its intention to purchase the property encompassing Southside Speedway.
“I wouldn’t have a problem with the county buying the property,” county resident Jennifer Allen told 8News in June. “I think it would be great if they invested a little bit in it, updated it. I wouldn’t change the trail much because it’s awesome that way.
The county ended up making a deal to buy the property. But what will be done next remains to be discussed.
“We have a kind of transition zone. If you look around there are a lot of different uses, ”said Board of Supervisors Vice President and Clover Hill District Representative Chris Winslow. “The idea of putting five story condos on this property really didn’t appeal to me, and at that point I kind of asked the staff to take a look at the property like, potentially, a place where we could expand what we’re already doing to River City Sports Complex. “
With Southside Speedway’s proximity to River City Sportsplex, local leaders want to hear from the public on ways to improve the area and maximize the experience for county residents and visitors to the Sportsplex. This is why there is a Genito / 288 Special Interest Area Plan Community Meeting scheduled for Thursday at 6.30 p.m.
While there is no official agenda for the meeting, a county spokesperson told 8News that there will be a presentation from Planning and Parks & Recreation, which will include some of the comments collected on ideas for the area, followed by a discussion on the future of the River City Sportsplex and development in the area of special interest.
According to the Chesterfield County Government website, the county has already garnered a significant public contribution to the region through an online survey, receiving nearly 1,200 responses over a three-week period.
“I grew up here and I would like to continue to grow here,” said former Southside Speedway announcer Buck Reuss. “I know they have a big decision to make because it involves the cost of demolishing and clearing the land, as opposed to what they can do with the land, and then, if they want to recover, how much that would cost to return it back to a working facility, so my hope is that investors come in and that can be replenished. “
Capital improvements proposed in the River City Sportsplex master plan include construction of a water park as part of a 1.5 acre destination playground, an adult fitness area with a track rubberized, a 5 km multi-use trail, a picnic area with shelters and toilets, and a multi-purpose event building. The place of the Southside Speedway property in all of this remains to be determined.
“This track, being in this configuration, at 60 years old is a historical landmark. So I’m pretty sure the officials understand that. There are surrounding communities that sometimes wish it was for the noise, and it has been nice and quiet for them for a few years now. So I understand that, ”Reuss said. “But then I also feel in my heart that everything that has happened or is happening here is part of that history and that legacy, and to see it in bad shape right now is a little overwhelming.”
Runner Lauren Edgerton said since Southside Speedway closed she hasn’t run as much.
“It was my favorite place to run,” she told 8News. “There is nothing else like it in the county. You have all these other sports facilities and things. But you don’t have another race track.
Edgerton said about a decade of track racing even inspired his career choice.
“It’s great for promoting, giving young people a real storyline to get them interested in your STEM fields. I’m a mechanical engineer, and racing is what pushed me down this path, ”she said. “You never know what you might inspire. “
A final decision on what will be done with the race track and other key properties in the Genito / 288 Special Response Zone is not made on Thursday evening. The community meeting is meant to serve as an opportunity for discussion, with the introduction of a draft master plan for River City Sportsplex which, according to the Chesterfield County website, aims to improve the visitor and user experience, to increase the overall attractiveness of the facility as a major host of large-scale tournaments and to provide additional recreational opportunities for county residents.