Rethinking big events

Charles Town leaders meeting after bike race

CHARLES TOWN – Jim Keaton told Charles Town Council this week that last month’s Two Cities Crit wasn’t the draw for tourists and economic boon that had been promised.

He recounted to council that two days after the June 28 event, a friend who works in Arlington, Va., got in touch with a question.

Charles Town City Council member Wayne Clark heads an ordinance committee that meets at City Hall tonight.

Charles Town City Council member Wayne
Clark heads an ordinance committee that
meets at City Hall tonight.

“She and five of her friends were going to the Casino and thought they would come into town to see where we live,” he said. “Her message said, ‘Did Charles Town have some kind of emergency on Saturday? We came up and the streets were closed. It looked like the city was closed.’

“I told her we had not had an emergency. What we had experienced was a disaster.”

Melissa Glascock, who owns Needful Things on Washington Street, said her building’s tenants were confused and her business’s cafe nearly empty.

“We didn’t know what to tell people,” Glascock said. “We had extra food and people but nobody came. This was supposed to be a big and wonderful event for the town, but it hurt a lot of us.

“You need to talk to us.”

Last week, Mayor Peggy Smith said she wanted to apologize to any businesses that lost revenue. She reaffirmed that stance at the meeting. “There was a lack of communication,” she said.

Chris Burns of Team Integrity Cycling, the event’s promoter, didn’t attend Monday’s meeting.

Councilman Mark Reinhart of Ward 1 said the council had to move forward to help the town. “We have to be very careful in the future on how events impact our businesses,” he said.

A meeting tonight of the council’s ordinance committee begins at 7:30 at City Hall, 101 E. Washington St.

Councilman Wayne Clark of Ward 2 serves as the chairman, with Reinhart and Jonathan Wertman of Ward 3 also on the committee.

Reinhart said he’s urging anyone concerned about how the city handles such big events to attend.

Clark said he heard some positive comments about the day – concerning how police handled the event.

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