Council Votes Yes On Heartland Park Expansion

In this photo provided by NHRA, Funny Car driver Johnny Gray wins the NHRA Kansas Nationals auto race, Sunday, May 19, 2013, in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/NHRA, Marc Gewertz)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)- Topeka council members voted 9 to 1 Tuesday night to approve its new 2015 budget, with no rise in the property tax levy.

Elaine Schwartz the lone 'no' vote on the approval.

And you may hear more engines revving up at Topeka's Heartland Park. Council members passed an ordinance to expand the complex.

Mayor Larry Wolgast and City Council members voted to pass an ordinance to add additional area to Heartland Park. Council member Chad Manspeaker voted "no."

In this proposed plan, the city will issue about $4.7 million in the Sales Tax Revenue bonds, or "STAR" bonds, to acquire Heartland Park. City Manager Jim Colson said there will be no tax increase with the plan.

"It is a reallocation of those funds as opposed to being collected by the state, they are being used to retire the debt," Colson explains.

Several Topekans spoke out during the public hearing and some said against the expansion idea.

"How you guys going to take care of all this? You want to expand it down there and stuff. Where is that money going to come from? Where is that money going to come from, okay? I know you are going to make Heartland Park work and stuff, but you gotta make the stuff around it work too," said Stacey Prim, a concerned citizen who lives just outside Topeka.

"It has no impact on you at all other than you will see Heartland Park with more economic activity on the roads," says Colson.

"Whose going to run this? Because I don't want a city department created to run Heartland Park or raceway," said concerned citizen, Joseph Ledbetter.

The President of Jayhawk Racing and owner operator of Heartland Park Topeka, Ray Irwin and Robert Wayman, President of Kansas City Porsche Club, explain why the changes are good for Topeka.

"Heartland Park will once again become the destination of choice in the Midwest for track enthusiast of all levels," said Wayman.

"I think its going to be a very good thing for that track, and certainly for the city of Topeka," said Irwin.

Former Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller stopped by at the end of the City Council meeting to thank the city for his retirement reception and he received a standing ovation.