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Proposed motorsports complex moves forward on 400-acre Lorain property

Wildlife advocates worry about loss of green space
03-15-23 LORAIN GO KART TRACK.jpg
Posted at 7:04 AM, Mar 16, 2023

LORAIN, Ohio — More than 400 acres of unused land in Lorain is a step closer to development. This week, Lorain City Council approved the sale of a property between Colorado Avenue and the Black River on the city’s east side. Developers hope to make the area a racing destination.

“We actually would like to turn it into a mecca of sorts for go-karting and then anything else that is related to it,” said Nick Jarmoszuk of XELL, LLC. “There isn’t a place in the world that [has] three go-kart tracks in the same location.”

The LLC is working with Lorain County-based McCrone Motorsports on the multimillion-dollar transformation of the Cromwell Park property. Plans for the first phase of the project include a professional grade 0.9 mile track, a 0.5-mile amateur track, and an indoor three-level track for use year-round. Jarmoszuk believes the unique attraction could draw international visitors.

“I think it has a chance to redesign what they are and what people come here for,” he said of Lorain.

Despite unanimous support from City Council members for the sale, the proposal has seen pushback from some in the community.

An online petition by the Black River Audubon Society garnered nearly 2,000 signatures, calling to halt the development of Cromwell Park. The organization said the location is considered an “important birding area.”

“There’s over 40 species of nesting birds here and over 115 during migration,” said Black River Audubon Society President Rob Swindell. “A lot of the time people think of migratory birds, they think of where they start and where they end up. But they forget they need to stop over and refuel. So we need to protect these spots as well.”

Swindell pointed to declining populations of birds like the Northeast Ohio visiting Blackpoll Warbler, whose numbers have dropped 88% in 40 years in part because of diminishing habitat. He also worries developing any part of the sprawling greenspace will disrupt other wildlife.

“I just feel like we have enough stuff like that. There’s other places we should do that,” said fellow birder Debbie Miller of the proposed development of Cromwell Park. “We should concentrate things like that in one area and then leave open space and known areas that are attractive to birds to the birds.”

Jarmoszuk contends the race tracks meet EPA guidelines and would help cap contamination from a former garbage dump on the land.

“Of those 400 [acres] is a significant portion that are brownfields,” he said. “The EPA actually looks very favorably on the effect if you put something on them that makes them less permeable, so a parking lot or a racetrack fits that definition.”

The development could eventually include other amenities, like restaurants and a hotel. Jarmoscuk believes it will inject profit into the local economy.

“We also intend to have walkways and nature paths,” he said of preserving some of the natural environment. “So this is not strictly putting some stuff in there that’s mechanized. This is an experience for all people.”

Swindell fears the development will compromise what little remains of Lorain’s green spaces.

“The definition of environmental injustice is taking projects like this and putting them in low-income areas where other neighborhoods wouldn’t tolerate it,” he said.

Developers plan to break ground next month and hope to finish the race tracks in time for an Ohio Go Kart event on August 18, 19, and 20.

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