By Helen and Richard Nielsen-Eckfield
To raise a mushroom you keep it in the dark and feed it manure. That practice, which we have observed practiced by the Del Mar Fair Board's leadership and staff, appears to be spreading to Del Mar Councilman Carl Hilliard who has been online in the Community bulletin, the Sandpiper, claiming there is no connection between the "temporary stop" they say they now wish to locate one-half mile south of the entrance statue, south of the river behind the businesses on Jimmy Durante, and across the tracks from 21st thru 24th streets versus the 25-years-in-the-master plan permanent train stop at the rear of the fairgrounds, north of the river.
The connections are simple: timing and money.
Four years ago, when the temporary stop was first proposed, it may have made "temporary" sense. But now real additional weeks of racing — perhaps even a new fall meet — are coming to Del Mar. It is time to end the procrastination and start the design and environmental permitting of the Permanent stop. We would rather have L.A. fans that will be following the transfer of race weeks from soon-to-close Hollywood Park to Del Mar coming via train than driving I-5.
Money wise, both projects would compete for funds from the Race Track Leasing Commission — who, in effect, gets the design and environmental permitting money from the operator of the very, very lucrative racing contract at Del Mar. And that commission could also get the construction financing from that same source.
They mound on more "mushroom food," claiming that it is necessary to first build new trestles over the river, ignoring that the existing one is about to get a $3.5 million "face lift" to strengthen it. Plus, until it is decided where the tracks should go south of the river (there are three competing routes) using the existing strengthened trestle saves dollars and makes sense.
You would think the race operator, who stands to benefit from the on-track attendance bonus such a walk-from-the-stop-into-grandstands would bring, would be demanding it. Both their cut of the on-track betting and the concession revenue produced could make them another fortune just like it did for Bing Crosby, while reducing traffic at the same time.
When will they stop treating everyone like mushrooms, keeping them in the dark and feeding them all this manure?