Warm Springs voters to decide issue

Warm Springs voters will once again vote on a proposed motorsports complex, to be located on the Warm Springs Reservation, in a referendum Tuesday, July 9.

If passed, the tribes and Lionshead Development, based out of Florida, North Carolina and Oregon, will work to develop the Motorsports Park Project on a 1,000-acre site in the Miller Flats area, just south of Mill Creek, off U.S. Highway 26.

In the first vote on May 21, voters favored the proposal put forward by Lionshead Development and the Warm Springs Economic Development Corp., but did not meet the minimum number of votes to support the referendum.

A total of 526 tribal voters favored the Motorsports Park Project, and 468 voted against the project, but the referendum required that one-third of eligible voters — 1,057 voters — participate. Only 994 tribal members voted, leaving the vote 63 votes short of passing.

The purpose of the tribal referendum is to see if the tribes are interested in "a large-scale project that would require a large land base," according to Jeff Anspach, of Terrebonne, chief operations officer for Warm Springs Ventures, which looks for economic development opportunities on the reservation.

The project would include a drag strip, road course, oval track and dirt track, as well as RV and camping areas, and related commercial facilities.

The $230 million project would create an estimated 425 jobs during the development phase, about 200 for operation, and another 225 for supporting businesses.

In early June, the Warm Springs Tribal Council unanimously decided to move forward with the second vote on the resolution, which will take place next week. Some had complained that the previous ballot was difficult to understand.

The resolution passed by the council states that the council "is supportive of pursuing the development of the Motorsports Park Project due to its potential to improve the tribe's financial situation and to provide jobs for tribal members," but believes it should be submitted to a vote of the tribal membership.

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