Shane Halverson envisions building four tracks for a radio-control car park in the northern corner of Fifth Ward Park.

Although the Maquoketa City Council has not seen a presentation on the proposed car park, it already faces some opposition.

Clay Romer, who lives just south of where Halverson initially proposed to build the park, obtained signatures from about 95 Maquoketa residents on a petition to keep the radio-control car park out of his neighborhood.

The main complaint is the possibility of excessive noise in the residential area.

Some opponents of the radio-control car park said they think the one-tenth-scale hobby cars that would be on the tracks would create a noise nuisance in their neighborhood.

Halverson said the radio-control cars reach average speeds of 10 mph to about 30 mph. He said the machines, which are typically battery-operated, make little sound. 

“Residents would hear little unless they were a few feet away,” Halverson said.

He said nitro-powered vehicles are louder but are rarely used in this area.

When he proposed the project to Maquoketa’s Park Board last month, Halverson said he talked about the project to residents living near Fifth Ward Park. He said the only question they had for him was if the tracks would bring a lot of motor vehicle traffic to the area.

Halverson said the hobby cars also have no emissions because most are electric.

The Park Board has some other possible locations in mind, including near the Grove Street ball diamonds, Councilman Ronald Horan told the council April 1. 

The city council must hear a presentation about the proposed car park and approve the park before Halverson can proceed. That date has not been set.

RC car park details

Halverson said his kids ask him to take their radio-control cars, go outside, and have fun.

“My kids love getting out and doing it, and I love getting them outside and away from their phones and video games,” he said.

And that’s what he hopes the car park does for the rest of the community.

Halverson’s proposed radio-control car park, as presented at Fifth Ward Park, would feature four courses of various shapes and sizes. One would be a flat, oval track built atop the basketball course there, which he said sees little use by the public. One would be a short course with zig-zag pattern and another with obstacles.

The fourth course would be constructed of mulch and dirt — which he could get from the city’s brush pile southeast of town and makes up the majority of the park’s infrastructure needs. That course would attract one-tenth-scale vehicles known as crawlers, which perform well on jagged, rugged, challenging tracks, Halverson explained.

“Think of it like taking your old truck mudding on a level B road, not that anyone would do that,” Halverson said, laughing.

He said he could build the courses in about three weekends because it requires little more than dirt, mulch, rock and limestone. 

“[Fifth Ward] Park will be no different than it is now,” Halverson said. “My goal is not to do any destruction to the park. If it didn’t work out, the city could take a dozer and get rid of it all pretty quickly.”

The entire project would cost $2,000 to $3,000, Halverson estimated. He said a certified electrician would have to install a few more electric hook-ups so park users could charge their hobby car batteries. The pavilion has only one electric outlet, he said.

The RC car park would be free and open to public use during the park’s regular daytime hours, as per Halverson’s Park Board proposal. The city would set and post any special rules for its use.

Halverson said he would be in charge of maintaining the courses.

The Park Board suggested hosting two or three racing events in the summer to draw people to Maquoketa and help pay for the park’s startup costs.

All four tracks would attract radio-control car enthusiasts from across the area, Halverson said.

“There are more people out there than you think,” Halverson said, noting that a lot of interest comes from individuals and clubs in Dubuque, Davenport and surrounding areas.

“But there are really few cities that have” a RC car park, he said. If Maquoketa builds one, “it will be the first city around here to have one. There are hobby stores like 60 miles away with one in their backyard and there’s a track at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds, but that’s it. We need somewhere to go.

“It’s difficult to find places to go. It really is,” he said.

Maquoketa Caves State Park is catering to the popularity of radio-control car enthusiasts also. A Maquoketa Caves Crawl will be held at 9 a.m. April 27 during the Caves’ annual pancake breakfast, giving people the chance to see how the hobby vehicles work.

The Caves will also host a three-day Camp & Crawl Sept. 27-29.

Councilman Kevin Kuhlman, who also sits on the Park Board, said he thought the RC car park “is a good idea.” If the council approved the project, he asked Halverson to design the courses so Maquoketa Public Works could easily mow around them.

“I’m a go with it,” Kuhlman said. “I think it’s going to get momentum.”

Horan agreed, saying the Fifth Ward Park basketball court (the proposed location) didn’t seem to get much use.

“It would be a unique [amenity] no one else [in the area] has,” Horan said at the Park Board meeting.

The board recommended that Halverson give his presentation to the Council of the Whole.