Archive for Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Council members concerned with race

June 4, 2003

A series of bicycle races set for later this month in Baldwin has caused some concern with a few of the Baldwin City Council members.

The Kansas City Orthopaedic Institute Racing Team will be in Baldwin June 14 to participate in a number of bicycle races, which will partially or completely block a section of city streets near the downtown area.

A representative from the racing team discussed the possibility of having the races in Baldwin with the city council at an earlier meeting. At that time, the city council suggested a race route be worked out with the help of the Baldwin City Police Department and Baldwin Public Works.

At Monday's council meeting, Council Member Ted Brecheisen said he wanted to know how the organization could set the race date and course, which includes blocking city streets, without coming back to the council for approval.

"I just want to make sure we don't infringe on the rights of the citizens on those streets," Brecheisen said. "We're just really going to have some people upset about this."

The race course begins at the corner of Eighth and High streets and goes south on High Street to Jersey Street. Racers will turn west on Jersey Street to 10th Street, turn north on 10th Street to High Street and back east to Eighth Street. The races will run every 45 minutes between 2 and 8 p.m.

Baldwin Police Chief Mike McKenna said he had met with a race representative to map out the course, and suggested to him at that time to notify the residents in the area that would be affected by the race. McKenna said he didn't know if that had ever been done.

Two other races are planned, one the morning of June 14 on the south end of the county on Douglas County Road 1055 and another the following morning on county road 1055 north of town to Vinland.

Brecheisen said he was also concerned because the city didn't know if the racing organization had proper insurance, if the residents had been notified of the race and how the organization was going to block off and secure the race area.

"I just don't think they can block off the streets without the police department," he said. "I think they need to hire somebody else from the police department."

He also pointed out that there would be no other council meeting before the race.

"I think if any residents wanted to protest this, we didn't give them a chance to protest," he said.

Council Member Todd Cohen said the council should know some of the details, like whether the organization has proper insurance, before the race.

"If we ask these questions, other people are going to ask these questions and we better have the answers," Cohen said.

Brecheisen made the motion to not allow the bicycle race to take place because the organization hadn't done what the council instructed, including working with public works.

"They have not proven to us they did what we asked them to do," he said.

The motion failed for lack of a second.

Council Member Ken Wagner said the council didn't specifically instruct the organization to return to a later meeting for approval.

"We gave these people a pretty positive response when they gave their presentation," Wagner said.

The council did say it would like the organization to present proof of insurance and proof residents were notified before the race takes place. McKenna said he would call the organization about the council's concerns.

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