Council sends races back to starting line

The Stillwater City Council sent a road race organizer back to the starting line Tuesday.

Brian Mastel of Mastel Event Management was asked to work with Community Development Director Bill Turnblad on new routes for three running races Mastel’s company wants to conduct in the city later this year.

Mastel’s request comes during a special events moratorium the council enacted last year after the cancellation of Lumberjack Days. In addition, city officials are concerned that some proposed race routes go through Lowell Park, site of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers levee project this summer.

Mastel’s company is responsible for last year’s Stillwater Log Run which was rescheduled to October due to bad weather. Mastel proposes adding a Stillwater half-marathon, and the Stillwater Lift Bridge Road races this summer.

“The numbers were not what we had hoped for last year but I feel that these events are compelling events that would be brought to downtown Stillwater as long as they have the ability and time to grow.” Mastel said.

City Administrator Larry Hansen said although the council approved the Stillwater Log Run last year, Mastel received no guarantee that the race would take place this year.

In addition to the moratorium, Mayor Ken Harycki said he was concerned that the proposed race routes wouldn’t work if the Lowell Park project occurs.

Some council members said they could support the summer run since it would be included in events that had happened historically. But they expressed concern about adding two other events due to the moratorium.

“I personally believe that the moratorium applies to these events. If we continue to not address the moratorium and lift it occasionally and decide to have events on a case-by-case basis, waiving our existing policies — it’s got nothing to do with your race, I’m sure it’s great but If we don’t commit to our policies I don’t think we’ll have a commitment to get this done and addressed,” said Councilman Tom Weidner.

Mastel said not having the summer race this year would be a detriment.

“To take one year off from an event that was established last year would be a death sentence for the event. Moving the start or end can be managed. It’s very common to have that happen with these races,” he said.

The council urged Mastel to work with Turnblad to create a new route before the council votes on the events.

“If you had a set plan for new routes that would be helpful, I’d like to have something in front of me that shows me that this is what it’s gonna be,” said Councilman Mike Polehna.

“I think if you amend the application with the new routes and bring it back to us we might be in a stronger position to approve it,” Harycki added. “There are just so many variables going on right now.”

At the 7 p.m. meeting the council:

  • Approved specifications and requirements for the 2013 road improvement projects. No one spoke at either of the public hearings.
  • Approved an amendment to the Freight House’s special use permit allowing the addition of an exterior bar with a roof on the deck.
  • Annexed the intersection at Greeley Street and Minnesota 36 into the city, The site originally was in Stillwater Township and township officials had no issues with the annexation. The annexation had also been recommended by MnDOT, according to city attorney Dave Magnuson.
  • Approved a no-parking resolution on the north side of Pine and North Broadway streets due to the 2013 construction projects.