Racetrack closer to reality

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / May 24, 2000

BATON ROUGE – An $100 million auto racetrack in the River Parishes, contemplated for at least three years, took a step toward reality with approval of a bill in the House Ways and Means Committee last week.

The committee on May 23 forwarded House Bill 303, authored by Reps. GarySmith of Norco and Bobby Faucheux of LaPlace, to the full House for debate.

No specific date is set for discussion by the full House.

Other co-sponsors include Sen. Joel Chaisson II (Destrehan), Rep. RoyQuezaire (Donaldsonville) and Rep. Alex Heaton (New Orleans).The bill calls for implementing a 2 percent hotel-motel tax, the revenue from which would generate $130,000 annually as infrastructure improvements or as a pledge to secure bonds issued for such improvements, aimed toward developing the project.

“We need to be able to get people on and off the highways,” Faucheux said of the infrastructure improvements.

The tax would not be imposed until the project actually began construction, the state representative added. “We’re looking at this to show this is aserious project.”Corey Faucheux, St. Charles Parish’s economic development director, saidseveral sites are being contemplated, including a 2,000-acre site near Killona and other sites near Edgard and possibly between Reserve and Garyville. Asite north of Lake Pontchartrain is also contemplated, however, this House bill applies only if the site selected is in the River Parishes.

A private investment group, the director said, has been in touch with his office for more than two years. “I’ve shown them several potential sites,”he added.

However, don’t look for the roar of engines on a racetrack in the very near future, said the St. Charles director. “This is one piece to a very longprocess.”While refusing to identify any of the potential developers, Corey Faucheux did say there are developers both in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Further steps would include site purchase and rezoning, site preparation and construction. In addition, the hotel-motel tax dedication would requires theSenate’s approval, the governor’s signature and a vote of approval by the voters in the affected parish.

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