7/4/2012 2:00:00 PM Foreclosure Sale Of Wiscasset Raceway May Face Obstacles
Vern Hodgkin (left) and Dale Chadbourne (right) reminisce about the days they raced on the Wiscasset Raceway in 1969 when it first opened. The raceway is being auctioned off on July 12 at 1 p.m. (H. Perkins photo)
By Honora Perkins
The Wiscasset Raceway, which opened in 1969, will be auctioned off as is, on July 12 at 1 p.m. Environmental concerns outlined in two reports could be obstacles to the property's sale, however.
A preview of the foreclosed property, located at 274 West Alna Rd., in Wiscasset, took place the morning of June 29, attended by a modest crowd.
Dale Chadbourne of Woolwich and Vern Hodgkin showed up for the preview. They reminisced about the days of their youth when they first raced around the dirt track, and then on the asphalt.
Chadbourne still has the car he first raced in, a 1957 Chevrolet he worked on himself when he was 18 years old.
Having raced on the Wiscasset Racetrack hundreds of times, Chadbourne said. "I hope it stays a racetrack."
The raceway property consists of a 35-acre parcel and has a seating capacity of 6000 in its grandstand, and a 3/8-mile high-banked oval track, and a rental home, and will be auctioned off by Keenan Auction Company of South Portland.
In its terms and conditions of sale, the property will be sold "as is, where is, and with all faults." The Bank of Maine (Seller) assumes that bidders have inspected the property prior to the sale.
According to Paul Prescott, vice president of the MAI Environmental (a Maine environmental company in South Portland) and its Phase I Environmental Assessment report requested by the Bank of Maine, dated April 12 and posted on Keenan Auction's website (www.keenanauction.com), the historical aerial images of the property show disturbed ground areas towards the "pit" areas north and west of the racetrack.
The assessment lists "significant debris (dumping), and a large number of discarded tires. Some debris areas appear to drain into a small stream that runs along the western property boundary.
"Also noted were three 55-gallon drums that are half full of petroleum products, the MAI report states. Two drums appeared to contain oil/waste oil, and a third drum was labeled as racing fuel. Additional five gallon pails were empty."
The MAI report also noted that "erosion and leachate from the wastes are discharging near and possibly into the down gradient stream and associated wetlands, and noted the number of homes within the area whose wells should be checked to see if they are contaminated."
Calls to Prescott at MAI were not returned by press time.
The Dept. of Environmental Protection also reviewed the property on May 23, and noted waste dumps including construction and demolition debris, metal, gas tanks and one tanker trailer.
"Wastes are protruding out of the bank slope suggesting the wastes have been disposed over the steep 15 to 20 foot deep slopes and then covered with soil. The dump continues for approximately 700 feet along the bank," the DEP report read.
William Butler, a representative in the DEP's Remediation and Waste Management, said the Raceway's new owner will be required to submit a corrective action plan to the DEP for review.
Before any debris is removed, he said, there must be site pitting to see if chemicals are in the soil. Speaking with Butler by phone, he said that if a person starts digging into the earth to remove the debris, some of which is buried, the soil will be disturbed and potentially create a larger problem by spreading the toxic or chemical substances. The chemical evaluation needs to be part of the work plan, he said.
Butler sent Wiscasset Town Planner Misty Gorski the Phase 1 Assessment and Gorski said she informed Wiscasset Town Manager Laurie Smith.
"It is a concern for us but there is very little we can do at this point," Gorski said.
Said Butler, "Much to the Bank of Maine's credit, immediately after being told of the dumping, they put in the access control (fencing) so that people could not continue to dump there, and the Bank had all the papers include the DEP and environmental concerns. The Bank representatives did their due diligence." He noted that prior to 1973 there were no rules about dumping.
According to Shari Fredette, Wiscasset's tax collector, the two parcels' back taxes add up to $40,660.88 as of July 2.
Sue Varney, the Assessor's Agent in Wiscasset, said Wiscasset Raceway LLC paid $500,000 for the property on July 24, 2007.
Wilford Cronk of Wiscasset built the Wiscasset Speedway (as it was originally called) in 1968 and it opened in 1969. He owned it for 22 years.
Dave and Sandra St. Clair owned the track from 1991 to 2007, changing the name to Wiscasset Raceway, when Doug and Becky White and family purchased the track in 2007, according to the Wiscasset Raceway's website.
Chadbourne, still reminiscing said, "There were a lot of people at the preview that I knew from the racing community, and I really think it will stay a racetrack. It doesn't make sense to have anything else there. If it becomes a racetrack again, I hope people will come."