River Falls community convinces developer to drop driving track plan

Opposition to “race track” along Kinnickinnic River causes canceled proposal.

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Driving at the Joliet Autobahn facility in Illinois. (Chad Horwedel/Flickr)

The Minnesota man who proposed a luxury auto club and high-speed driving track next to the Kinnickinnic River has halted the plan. A River Falls city council member recently announced that Neal Krzyzaniak told city staff that he will not seek to advance the project further. He said it was “clear that the community does not want it,” according to councilor Diane Odeen.

Krzyzaniak was met with stiff opposition after first discussing the proposal at a meeting in July. Neighbors were concerned about increased property taxes, noise, and traffic, and decreased property values. The site would have also spanned the South Fork of the Kinnickinnic River, home to native trout and a popular fishing destination.

Now, Krzyzaniak has told the city he will seek to develop housing on the 500-acre site. No other details were available at this time.

The proposal had received organized opposition in the past month. Numerous residents and community groups voiced their concerns, organizing a petition drive and launching a website and Facebook page. The petition has been signed by more than 1,500 people, and more than a 1,000 people follow the coalition’s social media.

The Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, which has worked to protect the river and its watershed since 1993, voiced unequivocal opposition.

“Maintaining sensitive land in its natural state is the best tool that we have for protecting the health of the Kinnickinnic River and its tributaries. A development of this type would create many acres of impermeable surface and generate increased runoff,” wrote Charles Rader, president of the group’s board. “Furthermore, landscaping around the proposed condominiums and track would further disturb the natural environment and ability for the land to absorb water and clean and cool it before it enters the river. The chemicals used in the automotive industry and landscaping are likely to end up in the river system, further damaging the ecosystem.”

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2 responses to “River Falls community convinces developer to drop driving track plan”

  1. Jim Cox Avatar
    Jim Cox

    Delighted re community activism success! Sounds like your goals remain…simply a larger housing deal now w/o race track.

    Greg or other readers: how is it that Kinnickinnic is a river name in diverse geography. We have often visited Kinnickinnic River near Hood River, OR.

    1. Greg Seitz Avatar

      I just know it’s a substance smoked by Ojibwe and Dakota people, a mixture of tobacco, willow bark (I think) and other plant material. There’s also a Kinnickinnic River on the other side of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, but I didn’t realize the name was so widespread as to appear in the PNW.