If some powerful Placer County officials have their way, Roseville's pursuit of a major, four-year university will mean the end of the road for the city's controversial racetrack.
Last week, Roseville's City Council accepting that wooing a university may take decades, not months adopted an outreach plan calling for launching a website, advertising in trade magazines, attending conferences and hiring a consultant.
"It's really focusing on 'How do we market Roseville as a viable location for a university,' " said Rob Jensen, the city's public works director. "It's not a two-year process. It's a two-decade process."
The city also signed a memorandum of understanding with California State University, Sacramento, to pursue collaborative educational opportunities.
Not on the agenda, but likely to ruffle more feathers, is a growing chorus of local officials suggesting that the Placer County Fairgrounds, which includes the All American Speedway, should be moved to make room for a university campus.
The fairground site was once on the edge of town, but is now surrounded by homes and businesses. The speedway, which has been the source of frequent noise complaints, was the subject of a critical grand jury report and may require significant upgrades.
"The current fairgrounds site would be an outstanding site for a university," said Supervisor Kirk Uhler, who was on the city's higher education task force. "That particular location its proximity to old Roseville is ideal. We need to relocate the Placer County Fairgrounds."
Uhler's comments were echoed by Supervisor Jack Duran and Roseville Councilman John Allard. None of the men has a specific proposal at this time.
"The current speedway has a shelf life, so I believe that a long-term plan to relocate the facility makes sense for our community," Duran said.
Allard said a university would be the perfect infill project.
"It would be a great site because it's increasingly in the center of Roseville. What better to put in an infill site than a university?" Allard said.
While the stir was about the potential infill site, City Manager Ray Kerridge refused to rule out reviving stalled talks about building a campus outside the current city limits.
The city has become an increasingly vocal critic of the raceway, but its fate is in the hands of the county, which has its own set of concerns.
After years of continuing the nonprofit Placer County Fair Association's permit to run the Placer County Fair, the county recently decided that it must get a new operating agreement, complete with a new environmental report. The report is likely to suggest ways to mitigate traffic, noise and water quality concerns, said Mary Dietrich, Placer County assistant director of facility services.
Prior to the county's determination that a new environmental report was needed, the county and the Fair Association had already embarked on a study to determine what upgrades were feasible to reduce noise on race days.
Fair Association staff previously expressed concerns about committing to costly upgrades while the future of the site was uncertain. The association's staff did not return calls for comment.
Uhler said he would like to work with the cities of Lincoln and Roseville to find a new location for the fairgrounds near the Sunset Industrial Park.
Bill McAnalley, a local race promoter who grew up racing at the speedway, said building a replacement would be hard, but is key.
"My kids have grown up with it there. It's been a big part of my family," McAnalley said. "It would be a tragedy to see it go, if we didn't get something newer and nicer."