Formula One racing

If it were up to some Miami Gardens residents, the only racing Formula One cars would be doing is racing away from their city.

That’s after they heard from an acoustical engineer that the noise level that the racing cars would emit could cause hearing damage and pain.

More than 100 people attended a town hall meeting lead by Miami Gardens officials, county representatives and the Miami Dolphins to hear about the stadium owner’s plan to bring F1 racing to the stadium.

Formula One racing has been seeking a location to race in South Florida. Residents of the city of Miami protested and the city’s commissioners rejected the idea.

To bring racing to Hard Rock Stadium, the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners need to weigh in. The Miami Dolphins have the contractual right to host events at their stadium on Shula Drive in Miami Gardens. The Dolphins have a community benefits agreement on the table from F1 and projections of $423 million in spending on local businesses.

The race, if the Dolphins go through with the idea, will take place on the land leased from the county but outside the stadium. However, it will require the use of a section of Northwest 199 Street, which is a county road.

When County Commissioner Barbara J. Jordan asked town hall attendees to stand if they supported the event, only one stood up.

“Ok, I have my answer,” Jordan said at Norland Senior High School Sept. 17.

An earlier meeting held at Carol City Senior High School was poorly attended, according to Jordan.

Betty T. Ferguson, former County Commissioner with a recreational complex and an avenue named after her, brought a scientist who gave a presentation about the noise pollution from an F1 event.

“We didn’t want our community to be accused of reacting emotionally,” Ferguson said. “We want to react to the facts.”

A Rock & Roll concert produces noise levels between 100 and 120 decibels, the measurement of sound.

Colby Leider has a doctorate in music composition and has 25 years of experience as an acoustical engineer. In his presentation Leider said 140 decibels could be felt in the stands of Hard Rock Stadium.

At that level, racegoers could be “exposed to permanent hearing loss or pain,” Leider said.

At nearby housing, the roars from the cars’ engines in an F1 race could reach 124 decibels. When the race reaches Barger

Boulevard, the noise level could be 132 decibels. Barger Boulevard is on the east side of Northwest 27 Avenue, west of the stadium and connects Northwest 203 Street to Northwest 199 Street.

“That’s still the threshold for pain,” Leider said of 132 decibels. “I don’t want any of my friends and family exposed.”

Fred Kemp lives in Honey Hill Estates and said the sound of the race would feel very close to him.

“Will I have to wear earmuffs,” Kemp said.

Northwest 199 Street will remain open during an F1 race, according to Marcus Bach, senior director of legal and government affairs for the Dolphins.

Susan Smith, who lives in the Lake Lucerne neighborhood, reminded local lawmakers and the Dolphins the surrounding communities experience traffic any time there are Dolphins games or other major events.

Darnell Roberts, communications director for Sybrina Fulton’s campaign, said it’s fair to say if community is a hard no, she would be too.

Lawanda Davis Dorsett lives in Miami Gardens and can drive to Hard Rock Stadium in about three minutes on a Sunday or Saturday when there are no games.

“If they didn’t want it in Downtown, why bring it here?” Dorsett said. “Altogether, they’re railroading Miami Gardens.”

Bach said the Dolphins are committed to the community.

“We came to the community first,” Bach said during the town hall.

F1’s community benefits package includes internships for Miami Gardens students, a playground, F1 in Schools program and a discounted-ticket program for Miami Gardens residents.

“We’re going to commit to reserve a certain number of internships exclusively for Miami Gardens students,” Bach said.

The $423 million in direct visitor spending is “equivalent to a Super Bowl every year.”

Bach asked the crowd to judge the Dolphins on their service.

“Judge us as corporate citizens,” Bach said. “Don’t judge us by the ‘80s. We will never be perfect in your eyes and we understand that. There will be events at the stadium; we are a stadium. We are trying to strike a balance. Nobody is here trying to ram anything down anyone’s throats.”

The meetings are about understanding, not about how many support or oppose, Bach said.

County Commissioners have the final say. The Dolphins can conduct the race, but not on Northwest 199th Street without legislative approval.

Whether noise that could cause pain would be a reason to not go through with the plan to bring F1, Bach said they will work with the commissioner and it is too soon to tell.

F1 and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross ditched plans to bring a race to Downtown Miami because residents did not want the road closures, traffic problems and noise.

Members of the Miami Gardens community plan to picket Dolphins games and will do so for events up until the Super Bowl. At 10 a.m. on Oct. 13 will be the first picket. Picketers will meet on Northwest 199 Street and Northwest 27th Avenue.

“It’s a very hard no,” Ferguson said. “What can they say to soften the blow, the negative impact, on the lives of the people who live here. To try and wave a few dollars and say we’re gonna be alright; that’s insulting.”

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