New twist in Heartland Park acquisition

TOPEKA (KSNT) –

Amidst rumors of offers and counter-offers over who will be the ultimate owner of the troubled facility, comes word that a petition to force a public vote on the plan has met a delay.

“I don’t feel that the city of Topeka has any business getting involved with a racetrack.” says Steve Raine of Topeka.

“The city doesn’t want to own a racetrack.” says city attorney, chad sublet.

But the city does want to expand the taxing district around the track. Something Chris Imming thinks the public, not just city council, should be able to vote on.
He started a petition to force that vote…

“We have a lot of volunteers out there. They’re hustling to get signatures.” says Imming.

In 2005 the city issued what are called ‘star bonds’ on the Heartland Park district. But as the race track suffered, so did those bonds. The bonds now carry eight million dollars in debt.

Sublet says, “There’s been several entities that have expressed interest in Heartland Park.”

The city wants the park also, to use the property to improve the area and pay off the eight-million dollar debt.

Imming wanted a vote in November, but concedes now he won’t get enough signatures verified in time.
The vote on the track would be pushed back until spring.
If that happens, the expansion with the city and the park would be stalled for months, meaning the park and the city could continue accumulating debt.

“The only way it stalls is if there’s the right number of signatures to the petition and it meets the guidelines which would force an election.” says Sublet.
That’s something Imming believes is a possibility. Imming says, “we’re making good progress, but we’re not there yet.”

The petition for a citywide vote must be submitted by October 10. Meanwhile, the Topeka City Council has yet to take a vote on whether to go ahead with the purchase.

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