By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
Plans for a foot race before the Festival of Lights parade were denied by the city council after several local businesspeople said it would hurt sales.
While the parade will still happen as scheduled at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, the planned 5K, a fundraiser for the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, will not. Several representatives of local businesses protested it would close them down for too long in a busy shopping season – the planned route was along River Road just before the parade.
The city council voted 4-3 to deny the permit.
“It’s going to shut our businesses down for an extra hour a half or two hours,” said John Sandstrom, who owns Quickie’s. “I’m not in favor of this at all.”
Representing Town and Country Lanes, Mardi Smith said closing the street earlier in the day cuts both into their league and open play times. And Nora Nelson, an agent at the nearby liquor store, said she’d miss out on high evening sales in one of the year’s busiest days.
More protestations came from the Keizer Renaissance Inn. Sales Manager Sherrie Gottfried said scheduled holiday parties would be difficult to coordinate if the city’s main arterial were closed for some four hours on a Saturday night.
“I am urging you to think long and hard about considering an additional event that has not been scheduled in a timely manner,” Gottfried wrote to the council.
No chamber representatives were at Monday’s meeting.
David Noland, an attorney for the Festival of Lights parade, was concerned about liability and the public making a connection between the two events.
Parade board member Bob Mitchell added partnership talks between their organization and the chamber fell through.
City Manager Chris Eppley told councilors they had authority to decide whether the race would take place.
“The outlier for this topic is how long do you believe it is appropriate to close the downtown core,” Eppley said.
Councilor Jim Taylor suggested the event was a good idea whose time had not yet come.
“I think the chamber, being that they do represent the businesses of Keizer, would want to rethink this too,” Taylor said.
Mayor Lore Christopher suggested businesses may benefit more than they know from viewers getting there earlier for the race. She, along with Councilors Joe Egli and Mark Caillier, supported the permit application.
In other business, councilors:
• Approved local improvement districts to build sidewalks on Hornet Court and pave Sieburg Street.