Despite a pending lawsuit that could shut down construction, the Atlanta Motorsports Park needs only sunshine and warmth to finish construction.
All we need is about 30 warm days, and well be open for business, said Atlanta Motorsports Park CEO, Jeremy Porter. To date, more than $12 million has been has been spent on getting the park up and running, he said.
The City of Dawsonville, the motorsports park, and Jeremy Porter were on the receiving end of lawsuits first filed in 2009 by Dawson County residents West and Helen Hamryka, and Hiddenstill Farms, LLC. The couple, who own a 70-acre horse farm across from the motorsports park, claim the park interferes with their right to enjoy the possession of their property and for the disruption of their horse farm business. The Hamrykas have lived in Dawson County since 1995.
We run a high end hunter/jumper training facility and it [the motorsports park] will effectively shut us down if it goes forward, said Dr. Hamryka.We are committed to saving our home from the racetrack. The Hamrykas also own a 16-acre tract of land with two homes just off of Duck Thurmond Rd. where the park is located. The Hamrykas lost in court, but later filed an appeal that went all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court. The court initially dismissed the appeal, but now has agreed to hear the reconsideration this March. The reconsideration was filed by Richard Wingate of Hallman and Wingate, who represents the Hamrykas. According to Wingate, the court overlooked some important provisions of the appeal.
For us, the best scenario would be that the zoning map amendment could be voided, said Wingate.What that means is the park is there illegally and construction would be stopped immediately. Porter, whose vision for the park is the result of a car accident when he was 16, seems unfazed by the actions of the court.
Part of the goal of this park is to teach teenagers how to drive safely, he said.
Porter was involved in a car accident 23 years ago in Mobile, Ala., when he was speeding along a narrow stretch of road and lost control of his car. The crash resulted in a broken back for Porter and a broken neck for his best friend. Sometimes its not about making money, its about saving lives, said Porter.
The typical cost for extreme driving courses is $500 to $700, he said. At the Atlanta Motorsports Park, courses will be offered for $75 to $99.
But there will be no charge, he said, for a Dawson County resident to enter the park as a spectator. Although there are no formal spectator stands, Porter plans to build a gazebo to hold more than 125 guests and to provide grassy areas around the gazebo for picnics that overlook the track and the nearby Amicalola Falls State Park. The 153-acre park is located on Hwy. 53 approximately 2.5 miles from the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and 2 miles from downtown Dawsonville.
This park is good for the county, Porter said. We hired nine local firms to help with construction and put 15 to 20 people who didnt have jobs back to work.
Porter expects the park to pump $50 million to $60 million into the Dawson County economy. We can support a 100-room hotel, a full retail strip shopping center, gas station, and a restaurant, he said. Dawsonville Mayor Joe Lane Cox acknowledges the citys position on the park. We feel we are in the right and confident things will work out in our favor. Staff Writer Angela Williamson contributed to this story.