By DON STINE
TINTON FALLS – A motocross racetrack, which will host riders of dirt bikes, ATVs and quads, has been proposed to be built off Shafto Road in Tinton Falls and the state Department of Environmental Protection has issued a $500,000 grant to help make it happen.
Ocean Township resident George DeGirolamo, president of Jersey Shore Motocross of Tinton Falls, and his business partner, Andy Rose, have submitted an application to the Tinton Falls Planning Board to develop a 21-acre tract on Shafto Road. The application seeks a use variance for the track, which will be located next to the Mazza and Sons recycling plant at 3230 Shafto Rd., since the site is now zoned for light industrial use.
In January, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced that a $500,000 grant was approved for the nonprofit Motocross Center of Tinton Falls Inc. through the agency’s initiative to fund projects that develop and improve passive and motorized trails across the state.
“This is a great thing for New Jersey and this is a phenomenal location for this sport. We have been working with the DEP’s trails commission for the last three years to get a $500,000 grant, which has been approved. The site will have a peewee track, a larger nine-acre track, and a nature walking trail,” Rose said.
The motocross proposal, however, is drawing some opposition from residents of the nearby Cedar village, Fox Chase and Park Place residential developments in Tinton Falls and Ocean Township.
Some residents expressed their concerns about the racetrack at last week’s Tinton Falls Borough Council meeting. Residents said they are concerned about noise, pollution, and traffic coming from the site. Some said it may be similar to noise coming from the Wall Stadium Speedway in Wall.
Bill Thorne, president of the Cedar Village Homeowners Association, said noise is the primary concern at his development of 297 private homes off Route 66 in Ocean Township. The development is about 3.5 miles from the proposed racetrack.
“Our biggest concern right now is noise coming from the racetrack and we feel we will be able to hear the sound even though we live some distance away,” he said.
Thorne said Ocean Township and Tinton Falls officials are aware of their concerns and that the racetrack has not received any approvals yet. He said raffic congestion is also a concern but more so for people living in Tinton Falls, closer to the proposed racetrack.
Rose said that motocross is fastest growing sport in the United States and more racetracks are needed.
“This is a very safe, family sport. The bikes and gear are very expensive. We will be promoting safety and instructional riding programs and the best professionals will be working there,” he said.
Rose said it is expected 30 jobs will be created at the track which will have an active environmental conservation component.
“This site is something green and environmentally friendly,” he said.
He said that several recent sounds tests show that noise from the racetrack will be no more than that generated from the Garden State Parkway or Route 18.
“It will be very difficult to hear anything at surrounding residential developments,” he said.
And DeGirolamo agrees.
“We knew there was going to be some opposition and that it would be an issue but we need to educate people. They hear `motorcycle’ and first thing they think of is noise,” he said.
DeGirolamo said that any sound coming from the racetrack will be well within and compliant with both federal and state guidelines
“We will also do sound testing on riders as they come in and, if we feel they are too loud and do not pass the test, then they will have to retool their bike with a new muffler or leave and not ride,” he said.
He said that extensive sound testing has already been done.
“It was one of the first things we did before deciding to move forward with the project,” he said.
And the test results show that the Garden State Parkway and Route 18 are already over state guidelines for noise levels.
“But there is a big difference with our track. People are imagining Harley Davidsons riding down their streets. But all of our bikes are carted in- they are not roadworthy. I think residents worried about motorcycles coming down their streets are way off the mark and we will be well within required decibel levels,” he said.
And DeGirolamo said making comparisons with Wall Stadium Raceway is way off line.
“Comparing us with Wall Stadium is not comparing apples with apples. They race open-exhaust race cars and that is nothing like motocross,” he said.
The racetrack is expected to be open six days a week and closed on Mondays. DeGirolamo said the facility would operate year-round, with hours planned from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during weekdays.
Plans also call for a 400-space parking lot with an additional 75 spaces for overflow parking. The three racetracks will each hold between 30 and 40 riders at a time. The plan includes a main building with a registration section, pro shop and snack bar.