Liberty Twp. trustees delay race approval

After spending 90 minutes in discussion with a race organizer regarding the final approval of a half-marathon scheduled to run this Saturday, Liberty Township trustees tabled the issue.

Trustees voiced concerns about the Scioto River Run half-marathon and 10K race tying up traffic for three hours and preventing residents along the route from reaching their homes.

The board is scheduled to meet at 9:15 a.m Wednesday to discuss the matter further with race officials. The meeting will be held in the township offices at 10104 Brewster Lane, Suite 125, Powell.

“I just don’t know how I’m going to tell people that on Saturday morning from 7:30 to 10:30 they’re not getting back to their homes,” said Trustee Shyra Eichhorn. She noted that the race does benefit a great cause and she “really wanted the race to work” so the money goes to the charity, but “temporary inconveniences doesn’t translate into three hours.”

Matt Czarnecki of Race Penguin approached trustees in February about holding the charity race in Liberty Township. The course was laid out to start and end on Farmington Lane, and would include portions of Sawmill Parkway, West Powell Road, Riverside Drive, and Seldom Seen Road. Funds raised from the event would benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio.

“Before our costs are taken out, (Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio) are getting eight percent off the top,” Czarnecki said. “There’s 1,200 participants signed up for this race. There has been commitments made to charities. There have been orders placed with vendors. There has been a lot happen over the seven months since this race has started its planning.”

Czarnecki said that there is more involved than just changing the course. He said when you change the course, you also change the distance.

“Trotters Gate is the one subdivision where there’s not a safe way to have traffic continuing westbound because of that tight S-curve. There’s no way to have two-way traffic,” he said. “This plan is to allow anybody that has a commitment that morning or has any emergency that arises easy access to leave their house.”

The ability of emergency vehicles getting to victims was a major concern for Trustee Melanie Leneghan.

“The course is designed in a way that we have emergency medical staff that we can get onto the course. The course is accessible to cars with flashing lights and emergency vehicles,” Czarnecki said.

Liberty Township Fire Chief Tom O’Brien said during Monday’s meeting that he had just heard about the race that day. When he was asked if what he was hearing from organizers made him happy, he said, “No!”

“I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t hear about it till this morning. There is preparation from my side as far as if I have to have the fire department respond. How are my guys going to get in and get out?” he said.

O’Brien stated that in the future there needs to be a process in place to prevent miscommunication from occurring.

Liberty Township resident Ferzan Ahmed, also a runner, recommended hiring additional trained police personnel to control the traffic in the vicinity of the subdivision. Ahmed said he ran in races where flaggers stood ready to let traffic through when there were breaks in the runners.

“Worst case scenario is someone might have to wait five minutes until there is the next break in the runners,” he said. “One car at a time. The most they might be delayed is a few minutes.”

Czarnecki said normally notices would have gone out to residents five days before the race, but were held up because of waiting for approval.

Liberty Township resident Holly Adams suggested seeking feedback from area residents.

“If you are willing to get out and go door-to-door and get approval from all those people, you’ll have your answer,” Adams said.

Eichhorn told Czarnecki she would like to discuss ways to formalize “a process that can keep this from happening again.”

By D. Anthony Botkin

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D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.