Archive for Sunday, August 25, 2013

City of Lawrence to consider running events expected to bring thousands downtown

August 25, 2013


The Color Run, an unusual event that involved splattering about 7,000 runners with colored corn starch in downtown Lawrence last fall, is making a return.

This time, Lawrence City Hall leaders are suggesting that green be a prominent color.

City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will consider requiring organizers of the popular run to make a $20,000 deposit with the city to ensure that streets are properly cleaned after the event and that volunteers are on hand during the race to help control traffic at intersections. The deposit would be refunded, unless there was a problem with cleanup or other matters during the race.

"It could have gone a little better last year," City Clerk Jonathan Douglass said of the 2012 cleanup efforts. "It wasn't terrible, but we're trying to figure out a way to improve the process."

Organizers hope to hold this year's event on Sept. 14, with the run beginning and ending near Watson Park. The route will include Tennessee, Kentucky and 18th streets. Those streets will be closed on race day from about 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., when cleanup is expected to be completed.

Organizers say they expect about 7,000 or more runners this year, Douglass said. Attempts to reach representatives with The Color Run weren't successful Friday.

The concept — runners wear white at the beginning of the race and periodically get sprayed with a color compound — has taken off nationally. According to the group's website, the races have exploded in popularity since their debut in 2012. The group plans to host 100 events across the world in 2013, attracting more than 1 million participants.

City commissioners said there is no doubt the event brings people to downtown.

"I can attest there were a whole lot of people downtown at the beginning of that event," said City Commissioner Mike Amyx, who owns a downtown barbershop. "That's good. It shows off downtown."

But commissioners said they also want to make sure the city doesn't unnecessarily subsidize the run.

"I don't have any problems with requiring the deposit at all," Amyx said. "If you have police officers down there and the street department cleaning up, we have to do what we have to do to get the town back in order after these events. That costs some money."

The $20,000 deposit is a first for the city for this type of event. Douglass said the main factor is that the event is so much larger than most of the other races held downtown. Most are a few hundred runners, and the largest is usually about half the size of The Color Run.

Douglass said he's in the process of compiling a report on how much the city spent in supporting The Color Run last year. He said the city hopes that the event will attract more volunteers, which will reduce the number of police officers who have to stand at intersections to provide basic traffic control during the event.

Another unusual aspect of The Color Run, city officials said, is that the event is promoted as a for-profit enterprise. The group makes a donation to a local charity, in this case Van Go Mobile Arts, but the event is organized as a for-profit venture, Douglass said.

City officials on Tuesday also will consider approving another unique downtown run. The organization KC Running is seeking a permit to host the Glow Run 5K, which is run at night, on Oct. 12.

Organizers expect up to 3,000 participants running with glow sticks and lighted clothing. The event, whose organizers will make a donation to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, is set to begin at about 8 p.m. Runners will travel through the heart of Massachusetts, Seventh, New Jersey, 11th, 15th and various other East Lawrence streets. The route also includes about a half-dozen "glow zones" that will be equipped with black lights and disc jockeys to entertain runners while they race.

Race officials anticipate the streets only will need to be closed when the large pack of runners travels through. Massachusetts Street through South Park, however, will be closed from about 2 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. for a variety of after-race events.

City officials in the past have been concerned about shutting down parts of Massachusetts Street, but City Commissioner Bob Schumm said other events have shown a shutdown can work, as long as it is limited to the area near South Park.

"If you close parts of Massachusetts Street between the Courthouse and City Hall, then you start locking up parking and hurting merchants," said Schumm, who is a downtown restaurant owner. "But in general, these events are good. Sometimes they provide a boost to business and sometimes they don't. But they bring people downtown, and that is what we want."


James Minor 4 years, 8 months ago

Good idea by city to insure funding for sanitation and safety are supported by the event. The police officers and sanitation crews time for these events should not be a financial burden to the taxpayer.

Matt Schwartz 4 years, 8 months ago

The police and clean up is paid for up front.

msezdsit 4 years, 8 months ago

I found that enjoying coming downtown for the shows this weekend was greatly diminished because everywhere I drove there were police cars behind me, in front of me, coming towards me and others with their lights flashing with a car they had pulled over. This really ruins the spirit of coming downtown. It feels like I am driving around in a jail. One wrong move and you've had it. You also have to keep in mind these guys got guns and will discharge them if they decide to. You really don't want to be caught in the crossfire.

pizzapete 4 years, 8 months ago

Wow, and I thought I was paranoid. Msezdsit, you should find someone to hold your hand and tell you everything is going to be alright.

elliottaw 4 years, 8 months ago

When was the last time that the Lawrence PD just started opening fire on Mass?

Garth Atchison 4 years, 8 months ago

City, er taxpayer, money should be minimized on events like this. Let the for profit people pay for security and cleanup.

deec 4 years, 8 months ago

Does KU pay all the police and cleanup costs for NCAA parades, Relays, etc downtown?

Seth Peterson 4 years, 8 months ago

Probably not, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't.

msezdsit 4 years, 8 months ago

"Wow, and I thought I was paranoid", pete . Yes , you are.

The people, like yourself, who think that we need these "saturation" exercises by the police in order to be safe are the paranoid ones. I feel quite comfortable with an adequate amount of police patrolling and annoying when, as I posted, there is a cop car every where you look. These saturation points are also very expensive.

pizzapete 4 years, 8 months ago

Oh, you're talking about the saturation points. I thought you were talking about the police shooting at people downtown. That's what I was commenting on anyway.

elliottaw 4 years, 8 months ago

I don't know that I saw a single officer while I was down there Saturday

George_Braziller 4 years, 8 months ago

Last year streets in East Lawrence were closed without any prior notice to the residents that it was happening. I hope they do a better job with that issue this year. I went out to buy some groceries that morning but when I tried to get back home I couldn't because the street had been blocked.

I even showed my driver's license showing I lived on the block but still wasn't allowed to drive the last 500 feet so I could park and unload.

mac 4 years, 8 months ago

Agreed... traffic needs better detours this year.

IBike100 4 years, 8 months ago

It would be interesting to know how much money actually goes to the charity named. I think the city should ask for that accounting for every event that police and clean up are requested to be paid for. I bet they'd be surprised where the money actually goes. These big races are for profit and the taxpayer should not pay for the police and clean up.

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