GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Grand Rapids city commissioners have given their own version of the Blessing of the Bikes.
After two months of debate and a week's worth of talk and compromise between promoters and commissioners with concerns, the full commission allowed the city manager's office to move forward with lining up the needed approvals for River City Bike Week to come to the city July 22-24, 2011.
Promoters brought a number of concessions to commissioners to sell the plan.
- Making the Grand Rapids portion a three-day event (Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Vendors will be brought in after 5 p.m. Thursday for set up, and will leave Sunday evening.
- Follow city recommendations of routing traffic to the south side of the Van Andel Arena for entering and exiting
- No food or beer vendors downtown.
Promoters also asked for commissioners and other critics to join an advisory board.
Those critics, including business owners and residents in and around the Van Andel Arena, expressed concerns over noise, congestion and safety.
The event will still last five days. Rally founder Mark Mensch said he's secured the I -96 Speedway near Lake Odessa to accommodate camping, vendors and other River City Bike Week Activities. A sanctioned Motorcycle Race will be held at the speedway during Bike Week.
"That, I think, will help with the congestion and rowdiness some people may be fearing," Mensch told commissioners.
The noise at night should be kept to a minimum, he said, with most events shutting down by 9 p.m.
"I think it's a good compromise," said Second Ward Commissioner Ruth Kelly, who had earlier expressed serious concerns over the event. She asked for assurances promoters would pay for police protection and other costs for city provided services.
City Comptroller Donijo DeJonge said while it's difficult to estimate what the economic impact the event will have, if there are 20, 000 bikers downtown, spending an average of $50 a day, downtown businesses could reap as much as a $1 million a day.
Commissioners did not vote on the event. But City Manager Greg Sundstrom wanted a consensus among his bosses on the commission before approving permits and other city requirements.
"I'm comfortable we'll be able to work with this promoter and make it a success for all," Sundstrom told commissioners.
GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle Friday night.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.
A mob of people hit the streets and set fires in East Lansing in the wake of Michigan State's win over Ohio State Saturday night.