Scioto River Run officials cancel Liberty Twp. event

The Scioto River Run half-marathon and 10K race will not be run Saturday in Liberty Township.

Race organizers released a statement Wednesday announcing the event was cancelled after Liberty Township trustees unanimously voted against allowing township roads to be used for the race.

“We have tried everything we can not to disappoint 1,200 runners,” said Trustee Shyra Eichhorn. “But in the same sense, we cannot disrupt neighborhood after neighborhood and businesses that were not communicated (with about the event).”

The following statement was posted on the Scioto River Run website on Wednesday: “We regret to inform you that as of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, September 20, 2017, Liberty Township Trustees decided to reverse their favorable vote on a resolution to support the 2017 Scioto River Run. This is a reverse of a previously written approval obtained on February 22, 2017. We, the organizers of the Scioto River Run are devastated by this decision. In order to plan this race, our team obtained approval from Liberty Township, the Columbus Zoo, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Delaware County Engineering.”

In February, Matt Czarnecki of Race Penguin approached trustees requesting permission to stage the charity race within the 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, Seldom Seen Road, and the entrance to the Columbus Zoo. Funds raised from the event would benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio.

Trustees tabled their final approval of the race using the township’s roads Monday evening after concerns were raised about residents not being able to leave or return to their homes during the race.

Addressing Czarnecki on Wednesday, Mitchell stated, “In February, you told us that some roads would be shut down with minimal impact. I think the word was 20 minutes. We’re talking about three and half hours now.”

According to Mitchell, the zoo wasn’t aware of roads being shut down. Businesses where parking was to be provided were unaware. Additionally, Preservation Parks is hosting a bridal event that would have to be moved or cancelled because of the road closures.

Mitchell also said that Delaware County 911 officials didn’t know about the event until a story about the race appeared in the Wednesday edition of The Gazette. He said the township’s fire department sent emails that weren’t replied to and the police departments of Shawnee Hills and Powell “don’t feel they are adequately set up for it.”

“This has not turned out to be a community event,” Mitchell said. “This is you using Liberty Township’s resources, in my opinion.”

Czarnecki told trustees that the zoo was aware of everything and that he even rode the zoo’s portion of the course with the head of security in February. He said he had their approval. However, according to Eichhorn, the zoo was unaware about roads leading to it being closed during their business hours.

Trustee Melanie Leneghan told him that the information he shared with the board Monday night was “inaccurate.”

“We have received email, after email, after email that doesn’t fall in line with what you have told us Monday night,” she said. “You’re asking to disrupt our entire community on a Saturday morning. It’s not our job to get back to you.”

Mitchell summed up the bottom line of what Saturday would be like if the race was to be run.

“We are doing nothing but pissing off our residents, our commercial partners, and our neighbors in Powell and Shawnee Hills and the county,” he said.

By D. Anthony Botkin

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