That Lyons was one of three sites for 2010 Centurion Cycling races is remarkable. Let’s hope this puts us on the map in good ways.
Still, we who live near the race’s start/end point have some questions.
We often hear that local merchants will benefit from having some event in Lyons. After the event, how often do we hear a realistic assessment of what the financial impact really was?
Why did this race start and finish in the middle of a residential neighborhood? What justified blocking residential streets and subjecting us to hours of thunderously loud, heavily amplified announcements and music? We are a neighborhood, not a racetrack.
Why locate the start / finish line of a race in front of a church on a Sunday morning? This suggests an attitude of dismissive and contemptuous disrespect towards people of faith.
Never during race planning did anyone from Centurion or the Town Board come to our neighborhood, sit down with us, and seek our input. Town government should not expect someone else, such as local media outlets, to do their communicating for them. Neither should anyone feel obliged to attend Town Board meetings lest they miss finding out about some new depredation being visited upon their neighborhood. A post card describing major neighborhood inconvenience that is already a done deal is not good enough.
In fairness, we had reassuring discussions with representatives of Centurion about prospective problems with blocking access to our street. Though none of our concerns materialized, residential streets should never have been blocked to begin with.
How can we make this event like the race work better?
First, if an event will unavoidably have a direct impact on a neighborhood, the Town Board and event promoters should go to residents and get their input, holding one meeting when serious event consideration begins, and another one closer to the event date. If the impact is unavoidable, move the event elsewhere.
Second, for any event held on Town streets or public property, the Town Board should publicize a reasonable estimate of the anticipated financial benefit. After the event, the Town Board should publicize the actual results and avoid repeating events that do not measure up. For example, will this race reduce our deficit?
Third, promoters of such events should pay a substantial event fee. There should also be a reasonable per participant fee (e.g., cyclists in a race).
Fourth, no headquarters, start/ finish point, etc. for such events should be located in residential neighborhoods. No such event must ever block residential street access. Such events should not be located in the immediate vicinity of any institution during its principal use time; for example, a church on a Sunday. The event should not impede access to local businesses. Music and announcements must not be allowed to disrupt nearby residential areas.
We urge the Lyons Town Board to embody these principles in ordinances governing the future conduct of events like the bicycle race.
Dean and Mindy Huff