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Officials' agenda includes grant for racetrack study



Published: Wed, April 27, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The study would decide whether or not the track should be built.

WARREN -- Trumbull County commissioners will consider accepting $40,000 today from the state for studying the feasibility of a first-of-its-kind indoor auto racetrack near the airport.

The county planning commission recommended commissioners approve the grant agreement with the Ohio Department of Development.

The state money is supposed to "leverage" other public and private funds for the $370,000 study to determine the viability of a proposed $300 million Mahoning Valley Motorsports and Exhibition Center.

The state grant is separate from another $40,000 being provided for the study by the Western Reserve Port Authority, which operates the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna Township, said planning commission director Alan Knapp.

The racetrack, proposed by Brant Motorsports of Morganstown, W.Va., would be located at an undetermined location near the airport.

Track capacity

Bob Brant, president of Brant Motorsports, has said the track would be built to initially seat 60,000 and be expandable to seat 120,000 people.

Brant wants the project to be funded from a mix of private and public entities. Brant's company is giving more than $50,000 for the study.

Others helping to fund the study include Trumbull 100, Western Reserve Building Trades and the Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, a supporter of the racetrack proposal, previously announced that the $185,000 local 50 percent match to a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant is in place and that the study would begin shortly.

If the study shows the speedway is a viable project, the process will move forward, Ryan said. If the study indicates the project isn't do-able, the speedway will not be built, he said.

Ryan successfully got up to $300,000 for the study into the federal EDA reauthorization bill enacted last year.

Other business

In other county business today, the commissioners will consider approving an agreement to obtain liability insurance from the County Risk Sharing Authority Inc., in care of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio in Columbus.

The first-year premium of $482,898 starting May 1 would provide for general liability, property damage, law enforcement liability and fleet insurance coverage until May 1, 2008.

The only other company to submit an insurance proposal was Arthur J. Gallagher & amp; Co. of Cleveland at $522,027.

A year ago, county commissioners unanimously voted to continue buying liability insurance from Gallagher Pipino, a branch of Arthur J. Gallagher and Co., for a fourth year, despite annual fees that had risen by more than 40 percent over three years.

No one else at that time had submitted a bid; the commissioners decided to use a private consultant to seek quotes for insurance coverage rather than advertise for bids.

CORSA is an insurance pool that insures 60 of Ohio's 88 counties. Commissioners switched insurance coverage from CORSA to the Gallagher policy in 2001, against the advice of their paid insurance consultant.

Since Trumbull County switched to Gallagher Pipino in 2001, the annual premium increased by 44 percent, while over the same period the average increase for counties in CORSA was 21 percent, CORSA Administrator David Brooks noted last year.




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