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Council worried events affect residents’ safety

Article Date: 
19 July, 2013 (All day)

Since annual biking and running events such as Ragnar and the Tour de Utah are creating a huge impact on Morgan County residents, some Morgan County Council members are asking for more control of the mass gatherings.
Morgan County Councilman Ned Mecham said the events are creating concerns for public health, traffic impediments, and access to personal property.
 “We get complaints for every one of the events,” Council Chairwoman Tina Kelley said.
Other relay races out of state enforce support-vehicle-free zones.  Mecham said he would like the same in Morgan County in the future, particularly from Trapper’s Loop in Mountain Green to the dirt spot near the Peterson exit.  Mecham is also concerned with the stretch along Morgan Valley Drive to East Canyon Dam and areas in Morgan City near the high school.
“In other states, there are a lot of place that are nonsupport legs, where you stop or slow down traffic,” Mecham said.
Councilman Austin Turner, a former law enforcement deputy, said many runners and vehicles crammed into one place makes it very difficult for emergency services to respond rapidly.
“It is next to impossible for law enforcement to drive against the grain,” he said.
“The runners are no problem, but support cars are out of control crazy with no one to police them,” said Morgan County Attorney Jann Farris.
Farris said there are ordinances in place to govern special events in the county.
“They can’t just come to town without telling us,” Farris said.
Per ordinance, event coordinators must fill out an application and then the county sheriff must determine security needs.  If the number of participants exceeds a certain number, clearance from the health department is also needed.
Farris said in the future, he will make sure council members are included in debriefing meetings.  He also encouraged council members to forward their concerns to the sheriff.
“They just come through our county and create all kinds of problems,” Councilman Robert Kilmer said, referencing the Tour of Utah event.  “We need to ensure our citizens are kept safe.”
Farris agreed.
“Going 80 miles an hour in town is absolutely dangerous and ridiculous, with just Harleys to block the roads,” he said.  “Even though it is a state road, it should not trump local control.”
Farris suggested sending a letter to the governor’s office detailing the county’s concerns as well as reach out to Ragnar and Tour of Utah organizers.
“We will work with them if they work with us,” Kelley said.
“We should be asked to be involved in the planning,” Farris said.
Although the events bring some positive economic impact, many council members feel it is not enough compared to the headache it causes residents and normal traffic.  Mecham said the sales tax the county sees from such events doesn’t equal the profit event coordinators bring in.  Ragnar had such a large number of registrants that organizers created a second race to meet the demand, Mecham said.
The Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay came through Morgan June 21 and 22.  The Morgan Valley Marathon is set for Saturday, July 27.  The Tour of Utah is scheduled to come through Morgan County Saturday, Aug. 10.  The Wildflower Pedalfest will start and finish in Mountain Green on Aug. 17, 2013.