(The following letter was edited for clarity and spelling.)
I am writing this in response to the article from about two weeks ago.
The variance they were seeking was denied, potentially ending the project; we can only hope. I would expect that you would at least partly fact-check what your website puts out.
There is not an auto paint body shop at the current location. It is actually densely wooded. The owner of the site has actually been cited by the NYS DEC twice for different violations. This includes disturbing protected wetlands and clearing the site without proper permits or approvals.
There is currently a full stop-work order at the location. They needed multiple variances, not just the length of the track. The staging, prep, and parking areas all didn’t meet town zoning. The proposed track is approximately 1250 feet with the variance they were seeking. Without that the track would be shorter.
Neil Zimbaldi is not a resident of the town. He is an outsider like most of the track supporters.
I am not against drag racing. The owners just picked the wrong location.
There have been attempts made to reach out and have a dialogue. They seem unwilling. The way they are going about this is all wrong; spreading misinformation only hurts their cause. It also hurts their supporters like yourself when they get exposed.
The airport next door is a private recreational airstrip with about five planes a weekend.
Just be careful with your support of this.
From an actual Modena resident
First of all, I appreciate Mr. Actual Modena Resident sending us this letter. Northeast Drag News welcomes the opportunity to correct any misinformation that we may have given.
I asked Neil Zimbaldi for his response to some of the statements in this letter and I will include those responses here.
Let’s go through this letter from the top.
The variance vote was for one issue as to setback and Mr. Zimbaldi assures us that this has “no potential to stop this project at all. We remain full speed seeking alternative options.”
I was mistaken when I wrote that the property “currently is the site of an auto paint shop.” There is not an active business on the property. The owners of the land do have an automotive collision repair and used car sales business, but it is not located on the site where the dragstrip would be built. They do live in a home on a property that is adjacent to the site.
Mr. Zimbaldi also addresses the citations that the property owner received from the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation. “True, TJ cleared a bit of land over five years ago and was cited approximately $7,000, then again more recently when they decided he needed a silt fence. I don’t believe any additional fines were given (for that citation).”
I was also mistaken when I stated that Neil Zimbaldi lived in Modena. He is a resident of the adjoining town directly to the east, Marlborough, NY. I’m not sure if that makes him an “outsider” though. I still think that qualifies him as a local resident. He tells me that he lives 8.5 miles from the proposed track.
As for picking the “wrong location,” that is what the whole Zoning Board/Planning Board process is about. There may in fact be better locations, but until such time as the owner of a better location comes forward, this is the location that is under discussion.
Mr. Zimbaldi feels that the fault for the failure to have a dialogue is at least partially on the opponents to the dragstrip. He writes, “Our Facebook group is private but all requests are accepted, unlike theirs. Nobody (on their side) has ever reached out. They won’t even talk to us at public meetings. Best to let the lawyers communicate at this point.”
The airstrip in question is indeed a private member-only-use airport, with FAA identifier 2NK9. It is operated by a corporation formed by the Hudson Valley Hornets club. There are a clubhouse and workshop and 40 privately owned airplane hangars. There is a website for the airstrip and the Hudson Valley Hornets.
Finally, let’s address the comment that “spreading misinformation only hurts their cause.” We find this comment baffling to be perfectly honest, especially given the amount of misinformation that is currently displayed on the single-page website that is located at StopTheDragStrip.com.
The first image you are confronted with is of a full-bore drag car with the heading “Are you ready for the LOUDEST American Sport in your backyard?” This is not an accurate depiction of what is being proposed.
The track will only serve street-legal vehicles. So it will only be as loud as the current New York motor vehicle laws allow. There are no specific decibel levels in the current laws, but the law does state that street-driven vehicles must not produce a level of noise higher than original manufacturer equipment.
Further down the page, it is mentioned that the track is not sanctioned by the NHRA or IHRA, and therefore there are “no rules.” First of all the AHRA has offered to sanction the track, when it opens. No one can sanction a track that doesn’t exist yet.
Furthermore, there are many unsanctioned tracks, including two right here in the Northeast. Those tracks have rules, and successfully host family-friendly drag racing and car shows without being sanctioned by any national drag racing association. We are confident that the owners of the proposed dragstrip can do so as well.
Then there is another list of potential issues, many of which are overstated. The first line says “The sound of 800hp engines & spinning tires 8 am-10 pm Thursday to Sunday.” That is simply not what is being proposed.
Below that is a photo of an exploding race car.
Next is the statement that “Towns are shutting these tracks down across America due to carbon output and noise pollution.” As far as we know, this statement is simply not true. If anyone can verify that this has in fact happened, please let us know.
We get it. Not everyone is in favor of having a dragstrip built in their town. And we are not naive enough to think that there won’t be any issues if the track is built. And it’s pretty obvious that any publication that calls itself Northeast Drag News is going to support the construction of a new dragstrip. Yes, we are biased. But we have to say that it is also our opinion that the largest chunk of misinformation is coming from the group that hosts the StopTheDragStrip.com website.
Fortunately, this is America, and we have a process. It’s messy, frustrating, it can be expensive, and it takes too long. But it works. It works best when everyone involved deals with the issues at hand openly and honestly.
Northeast Drag News hopes that both sides of this issue can do that.