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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Get pro for drag-race data

January 22, 2021 at 2:47 a.m.

The city needs a lot of answers on whether a drag strip would make it here, but so far, no one is volunteering to help put a pencil to the project.

That's not a good sign, but there could be a reason. The city may be asking too much of the folks who might want to serve on such a study committee.

The idea for bringing a race track to the area has been batted around for quite some time in Pine Bluff. A letter from a drag racing association said there are several people across Arkansas who are into drag racing and who would bring their racers to Pine Bluff to participate.

Of course, a study would have to go into more detail than that. Much more detail.

According to a story in Thursday's paper, members of this ad hoc committee would be asked to determine what economic benefits would come from the track, determine where it would go, draw up rules and regulations for the construction and operation of the track, produce a timeline for construction, estimate the operational costs, project the number of jobs that would be created by a track, and identify potential stakeholders and investors.

Whew! That made us tired just reading it.

Alderman Joni Alexander, who has been trying to get the track idea going, probably hit the nail when she surmised why out of nine positions on the study committee, there were still nine openings and no active applications.

"I've had lots of people interested in applying," she said, "but once they get the resolution and read what's required of them, they're hesitant."

We can understand why. From our experience, the to-do list for this committee is too long and far too technically complicated for people who have day jobs. Ad-hoc committees are great vehicles for pulling together short-term projects. We're thinking fundraisers, for example. But goodness, who is going to have the time and the expertise to pull together all of the data that is needed here? A committee could work full-time on gathering all that, and it would still take the members quite a long time to finish -- even if they knew what they were doing.

We could be wrong, for sure. Nine people may show up tomorrow who are ready to plow through this list. But more likely, the city, if it wants solid answers to these questions, is going to have to hire a consultant, someone or some firm that knows something about this type of activity and that can lay its hands on significant data and know what to do with it.

These are great questions that city officials want answers to, and we applaud the council members for considering such an attraction, but if they want hard numbers on which to make hard decisions on the subject, we think they are going to have to spend some money to get there. Maybe Go Forward Pine Bluff can help.

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