Council works to address road rally snag
May 05, 2010
BERLIN — The city council worked on contingencies for the Robin Hood Road Rally, which has run into problems several times already with location and scheduling.
The race, which is scheduled for the end of May, was supposed to be both a revenue opportunity and a chance for some exposure for Berlin, but now a string of complications are making it less likely the event will happen.
The event was originally scheduled to take place on U.S. Route 16 along the river, City Manager Pat MacQueen told the council, but the state had concerns about people boating on the river climbing to the shore and being in the way of vehicles. They then tried to move the race to York Pond Road, but the Forest Service wasn't in favor of the idea. Now organizers are looking at racing around the former mill property, Mr. MacQueen said, and then up toward the Mount Carberry landfill. To do this they would have to shut down part of Hutchins Street for the two days the race would happen.
That plan caused its own problems, Councilor Tom McCue said, as the original plan was for the race to take place on May 21 and 22, a Friday and Saturday, but the landfill couldn't shut down for the Friday. Rally organizers were willing to change the dates to Saturday and Sunday, he said, but then it conflicts with the opening of the ATV trail through the downtown.
Shutting down Hutchins Street will block a portion of the trail that connects Jericho State Park with the trails in Success.
"There's a lot of people planning on coming up here on the 23rd," Councilor Tim Cayer said. "They've been waiting all winter."
Councilor Robert Danderson suggested the ATVs could be routed either through the mill property, or they could be diverted up Route 16, across the 12th Street Bridge and up Hutchins Street from the other end to access Success.
Mayor Paul Grenier said it sounded like organizers had hit a number of obstacles in planning the race, and too many more might jeopardize the race entirely.
The council decided to give the mill property/Mount Carberry road plan its blessing, so long as something could be figured out for the ATVs.
Council Michael Rozek also raised concerns about several full time Berlin firefighters who run their own excavation business on the side. They are bidding on city projects, he said, which might be a conflict of interest since they are city employees.
Mr. MacQueen said the bid process is in place to ensure the process is fair no matter who is bidding on city projects. The council could enact an ordinance forbidding any full time city employee from bidding on city projects to address any appearance of impropriety, he said, but that would not necessarily be his recommendation.
Councilor Danderson said his concern was less about conflict of interest and more about whether these firefighters were doing the necessary overtime required. They better not be working on their own at the expense of their full time commitments, he said.
Mayor Grenier said he shared Councilor Rozek's concerns. He added that if they got hurt while working at their part time side job it would be the city health insurance footing the bill.
"I think we're really overstepping our bounds," said Councilor Ryan Landry in response to Councilor Rozek's concerns. The city can't mandate what employees do in their free time, he said, and the concerns about health insurance are dubious. They could get hurt skiing or doing yard work, he said, and the city wouldn't object. Teachers paint in the summer, he said; will the city start raising issue with that? The city shouldn't stifle their entrepreneurial spirit, he said, so long as they go through the bid process like everyone else.