augusta free press news

One more round on bike race

The April 26 Waynesboro Omnium bike race will go on as scheduled, but the resolution to the issues raised by Vice Mayor Frank Lucente regarding the downtown event did not come without more in the way of procedural drama.
“I think all the problems have been resolved, and I’m prepared to vote for this bike race, at least this first one, and after that, if that goes through, see if there are any problems with that, and then go with the second race,” Lucente said at City Council’s meeting Wednesday evening, which began technically as the continuation of the March 9 meeting during which the matter of the proposed closing of Main Street to accommodate the bike race first came up.

A motion to approve the street closure failed by a 3-2 party-line vote at that meeting after Lucente speaking on behalf of Bill Mikolay, the owner of Main Street Discount, a downtown-based discount store, raised objections to the closure due to concerns about the impact on Mikolay’s business.

Councilwomen Lorie Smith and Nancy Dowdy tried to forge a compromise that night that involved keeping a portion of Main Street leading up to Main Street Discount open for customers, but failed for lack of a third vote. Council then decided to keep the meeting open to allow for the potential of a vote and resolution to the issue. City tourism director Lianne Crookshanks and police chief Doug Davis met with Mikolay and other downtown business owners to allay any potential issues thereafter, and The Augusta Free Press and The News Virginian reported on March 13 that a tentative compromise between Mikolay and race promoter Tony Bilotta had been reached.

The details of that compromise, though, were neither made public nor relayed to Smith and Dowdy, prompting a response from Dowdy to Lucente’s comments at this evening’s meeting.

“Can you share how they’ve been resolved? Because I have no idea what the solution was,” Dowdy said.

“I don’t, either. I have no idea,” said Smith.

“I just talked to a couple of the people, downtown businesses, and they were OK with it,” Lucente said.

“OK with what, Frank? That’s what I’m trying …” Smith started to respond.

“OK with the race,” Lucente finished.

“They’ve going to leave Main Street so they can come up to the top and make a U-turn,” Williams started to explain.

“Which is what Ms. Crookshanks proposed originally at the podium last week?” Smith asked.

Crookshanks answered yes.

Smith then raised objection to e-mails sent by council clerk Julia Bortle, apparently under advisement from the Council majority, as responses to concerns from city residents related to the question of whether the bike race would go on that related that the Council had come to a compromise on the race and that it would go on as scheduled.

“I started seeing e-mails where we were telling citizens that we had a plan and that the race was a go, and I’ve heard nothing from Council members or anybody about what end result we were going to be looking at this evening,” Smith said.

“Nor have I,” Dowdy said.


Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press