Water Cut Off At Heartland Park, Track Owes $58,000

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Financial problems at Heartland Park Topeka have been documented for months, but until last week just about everything was working. "The city has shut of water to Heartland Park and that was done later last week," said City Financial Services Director Doug Gerber.

This latest, ominous news comes as the future the track remains up in the air.

Jayhawk Racing LLC owed an outstanding water bill in the amount of $58,000 before the NHRA Nationals event occurred over Memorial Day weekend.

Gerber said, "That number is off the most recent bill and we have not been paid since August of 2013."

The city council recently reversed a decision to issue sales tax revenue bonds to buy heartland park and improve the area around it. During discussions, Jayhawk Racing had said CoreFirst Bank could foreclose on the facility at any time.

Still, the NHRA footed the bill for the summer nationals event to take place and expressed hope someone would step up to save the facility. Now, in order for future events to take place with the faucets turned on, the city says someone needs to pay up. "As with any property in the city, if you have an outstanding water bill and you need to get it turned back on, you have to work with the city and pay your outstanding debt," said Gerber.

Reversing Course

Early in May, the Topeka City Council voted six to four against moving forward with its plans to use five million dollars in STAR bonds to purchase Heartland Park and improve the district commercially.

That was a far different result than the 7-3 vote last December that initially gave the green light to the city to buy the bonds. In the six months between the two votes, a highly-publicized petition drive to put the issue to a public vote ended up being decided in the courts.

More importantly, Topeka voters sent two of the councilmen who had voted yes packing which, when combined with fellow supporter Denise Everhart also stepping down, freed up three council seats that were filled by opponents of the proposal.

The day after the council put its plans permanently in park, the company who was in talks to manage the track said it "back, weigh our options and move forward accordingly.

An Uncertain Future

The NHRA Nationals came to town later that month - possibly for the last time. After the vote, drag racing association terminated its contract with the city and hosted the event itself.

So, for now, the future of the track remains open. City leaders and race fans throughout northeast Kansas cross their fingers hoping a new solution will be found and the lights will once again turn green at Heartland Park