Press "Enter" to skip to content

Test track stalls

Test track stalls Paul Hoppes of Havana is against building a new high-speed test track on the Quincy-area campus owned by Tallahassee Community College. So far, Hoppes, a land developer and managing partner of Havana’s Bradley Road Partnership, has stalled the project. At the May 1 meeting of the Gadsden County Commission, Hoppes spoke against the Florida Highway Patrol’s proposed track. The track would be 57 feet from his property line. He succeeded in stalling the project when the commission voted to hold another hearing June 5. The commission gave Hoppes and the Florida Highway Patrol time to reach a compromise without the commissioners having to broker one. The proposed track, at the college’s Florida Public Safety Institute, located 3.7 miles east of Quincy city limits on U.S. 90, will be used to train state troopers in conditions more similar to those they would encounter in high-speed pursuits on the Interstate. The Florida Highway Patrol’s current track is 0.7 miles in length and the maximum speed attained doesn’t exceed more than about 55 miles per hour. The proposed track would be about 1.4 miles in length, allowing training at much higher speeds. The track is expected to cost $2.1 million to build, with funding coming from the Florida State Legislature, with in-kind services provided by the Florida National Guard. Chief Mark Brown of the Florida Highway Patrol said the track’s presence would mean funds for the county when visiting officers stayed in hotels while here for training. Brown estimated the track would be used by about 1,700 Florida Highway Patrol officers. Hoppes told the commissioners that he and a partner plan to build 200 single-family homes on 300 acres of land they own near the proposed site. “This track is adjacent to the most viable part of my property for single-family affordable housing,” Hoppes told WTXL. “Adding affordable housing to Gadsden County would give families more options to live in the county and would bring the county much-needed revenue as well. It would make a dramatic difference to the Gadsden County community to have this affordable housing available to them that is currently unavailable.” Hoppes told WTXL that having the test track next door to the housing is what developers call an “incompatible” situation. He said the college owns 1,296 acres and must have other locations on its grounds that could house this training facility. The parties have agreed so far upon adding a vegetative buffer (a hedge of trees) to the track to lessen the sound of the sirens. They have also talked about limiting both the track’s days of operation and operating hours. The Florida Highway Patrol also offered to possibly not use any sirens until after the housing development breaks ground. However, the parties have been unable to reach an agreement yet, so the county’s commissioners gave them more time to work together before the commission will make a final decision about the project on June 5.

Randall Lieberman