By Adam Quandt
Waconia could see upwards of 3,000 bicycle riders riding through the streets of the city on April 30, as part of annual MN Ironman Bike Ride. The ride is hosted as a charity event by Hosteling International and serves as the start of the Minnesota bike riding season.
The ride features five different route options to riders, including 19, 26, 45, 55 and 93 mile options. Routes will travel around parts of Carver and McLeod County, with Waconia serving as the events home base.
After much discussion, the city council voted 4-0 to allow the organization the use of some Waconia public streets for the ride, during the councils Feb. 21 meeting.
Most of the council’s concerns involved the public’s access to streets, homes and businesses near Waconia High School, which will serve as the starting and finishing point for the ride.
The council discussed whether to close Community Drive during the beginning of the event or not.
“It’s not a stream of 100 riders at a time, but it will be a steady stream of 5-6 riders at a time throughout the morning,” City Administrator Susan Arntz said.
Riders will register and begin their rides anytime from 6 to 10 a.m. the morning of the event.
Event organizers assured the council that closing Community Drive was unnecessary.
The council was concerned that by closing Community Drive on top of already closing Wildcat Way for the event would cause the council to close the community center. Closing the center could cost the council around $700 an hour.
Ride Director Tom Sullivan said that with traffic control at the roundabout, there is no need to close the road.
“This is our 51st year doing this and we haven’t closed a road yet,” Sullivan said. “I believe very strongly that we can keep Community Drive open.”
“Safety is the biggest concern we have,” Councilmember Kent Bloudek said.
Sullivan explained that the majority of the riders participating in the event are middle-aged and seasoned riders, who know and uphold the traffic laws of biking.
“They’re a very professional audience of cyclist,” Hosteling International Executive Director John Ridge said. “They’re very aware of what the safety of a big bike ride is all about.”
The council approved the events use of public streets by the event with a specific set of conditions, which the organization will need to meet by March 31, in order to present everything to council during the April 3 council meeting.
The majority of the conditions focused on parking during the event. The council asked that the event organizers solidify parking plans with local businesses and come up with notification methods for no parking zones.
During the Feb. 21 meeting, the city council also voted to appoint a new assistant city administrator. After receiving more than 50 applications, the council voted 4-0 to appoint Jackie Schwerm as Waconia’s Assistant City Adminstrator.
Schwerm served as the Senior Management Analyst for the City of Eden Prairie for over five years, where she gained experience in human resources, general administrative work and other special projects.
Schwerm will begin on March 27.