Community watchdog helps neighbors fight drag strip

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November 17, 2006

Commissioners have already voted to build drag strip in south Augusta, but neighbors there against the plans aren't giving up their fight

Today community activist Woody Merry held a news conference to talk about the negative impact he says the racetrack will have.

But when supporters turned up, things got interesting.

Woody Merry has shown he has no problem taking on the Augusta Commission's decisions, even if that means going to court. And though he doesn't live on the south side, he says he's fighting for those who do, determined to put the brakes on this drag strip.

It's not the backdrop he was expecting. As government watchdog Woody Merry came to bark against the commission's decision to build a drag strip in south Augusta, more people in favor of the project showed up, agitating the crowd of south Augusta neighbors who thought it was their chance to be heard.

But Woody Merry continued, saying this drag strip is an accident waiting to happen. He says the neighbors are concerned about noise, traffic, and decreasing property values...all things he says the Commission ignored.

"And they were stonewalled," he said amid cheering from the crowd. "I have been there, I know what it feels like to be held up by a government, and I'm not going to put up with it anymore. If I have to be the lone voice, so be it."

He also says the financial forecast of the racetrack bringing $30 million a year in revenue isn't right.

"How do you include a revenue on something you don't build? It's a skewed, biased study, designed to look good."

It's no secret Commissioner Marion Williams is much of the fuel behind the fight for this drag strip. Some neighbors say his strong interest may be a conflict of interest, as some say his son-in-law's business could benefit as he just purchased property across from the would-be racetrack.

"He didn't buy any property we're building a racetrack on; he's not associated at all with anything to do with this racetrack," Williams told News 12.

And though the Commission has voted, neighbors say they will be heard, vowing to do their own financial study and noise test.

"We won't quit fighting, never will we quit fighting, even when they start them up, we won't quit fighting," said Maude Walker. "This is our home."

Monday at 4:30, there will be another noise test in south Augusta. This time, Woody Merry is heading it up. They've invited a concert sound truck to help. Folks out there are hoping the results will really help their case.