Breakaway Event Productions won City Council approval Monday night to bring its summertime professional bike racing event back to the heart of Geneva's downtown.
The council voted 8-1 to grant permission for the use of city right of way on Third Street and other side streets for the event that takes place from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, July 8.
First Ward Alderman Sam Hill and three downtown merchants raised concerns about the negative impacts on businesses as well as the veracity of a merchant poll conducted by Breakaway Event Productions.
Hill said he did a little research and discovered that only about 53 percent of the merchants favored the bike race's venue and Sunday scheduling. That's far short of the more than 70 percent approval rating promoters said they had found in their survey.
Jane Briner of the Shops at 127 told aldermen that she was listed as a supporter of the event.
"I was put down as a 'yes,' and I was never contacted by the promoter," she said.
Patrick Neary, the owner of Wildwood restaurant, said the number of events throughout the year—from Swedish Days to the Concourse d'Elegance classic car show to Festival of the Vine—makes it harder for him and other business owners to make ends meet.
"I have some strong feelings regarding street closings in general," he said. "I don’t want to preach to the choir here, but whenever you close Third Street, there are significant impacts."
Hill made a motion to move the event back to the Fourth Street location it had held the previous year, but the motion died for lack of a second.
The council's 8-1 vote included Hill's nay. Fourth Ward Alderman Dorothy Flanagan was absent.
Evans said that, with the exception of his staff time, the event does not cost the city any money. Police and Fire Department support are paid for by the event organizer, and Breakaway provides its own generators, so there is no city electricity cost.
The race route is shaped a little like the state of New Mexico. It runs on South Third Street from Campbell to Fulton, on Fulton Street from Third to Fifth, on Fifth Street from Fulton to South, on South Street from Fifth to Sixth, on Sixth Street from South to Campbell and on Campbell from Sixth to Third street. (See the attached screen shot.)
According to a report by Business Development Specialist Paul Evans, the loop creates a 0.8-mile course in which bicyclists of different classes will compete for prize money. There are seven races scheduled throughout the day, with the main event being the men’s pro race at 5:45 p.m.
The criterium is expected to draw 500 to 700 riders and up to 5,000 spectators over the course of the day, Evans said.