Simms Stream Park and ATV Racetrack Proposed
After researching the North Country fairly
extensively, Phil Harker of Andover, Mass., says he has presented his plans to
create a racetrack on Simms Stream Road to the town’s Planning Board.
Harker told the Chronicle this week, “I wanted a fairly remote area, but a place that connected to a main highway, and I was also looking for a place that would be amenable to a new business.
This is not anything like the Loudon racerack, but a place where I can host 20 or so weekend events for ATVs and snowmobiles or even snowboards.” Harker’s idea is to attract some younger people to the area for year-round sports.
Also, Harker chose the rural area because of its proximity to Colebrook, and he compared it to the motorcycle blessing event last week, which he attended.
“One of my ideas is to bring business to restaurants, shops and motels as well. I grew up in even a more rural area in Kentucky, but followed my wife to Massachusetts, where she is a nurse. I happen to be a CPA who helps people put businesses together, and this is something I have wanted to do for quite a while.”
The map Harker presented to the Planning Board was approved by the Environmental Services Alteration of Terrain Division.
According the Planning Board Chairman Scott DeBlois, “Harker has said he will avoid specimen trees, natural tree clusters, large boulders, and any other environmental concerns.” DeBlois said the road is a Class 6 Road, which means it is not maintained, and the town of Columbia has no plans to maintain it.
That would be a problem which would need to be resolved if the park receives positive feedback at the town meeting on July 11, at 7 p.m. in the old Town Hall. “The more input we have, the better,” said DeBlois, but at present, “I am neutral about the concept.” Harker will be at the public meeting to present his idea, and he hopes people will be receptive to his plans.
One of the big drawing points for Harker is that the area already provides many outdoor recreational activities, and this would mesh nicely with those activities. Harker said, “I plan most activities to occur from about eight in the morning until dusk, but everything is negotiable at this point, and I am looking for input from as many people as possible.”
Harker is sole proprietor of the idea, and knows his plan depends on the will of the people. As he said, “I hope to find an inviting and accessible audience when I present my plan on July 11. I have met and exceeded every state and federal regulation necessary, and I hope people will see that and agree the racetrack is a great economic boost for the North Country.”
Columbia Planning Board
Chairman Scott DeBlois displays the map for the Simms Stream Park and
Racetrack as proposed by Phil Harker of Andover, Mass. Marie Hughes photo.