Lenox merchant unhappy about shutdown of downtown for Berkshire Cycling Classic
LENOX -- The third annual Berkshire Cycling Classic, starting and finishing in the center of downtown, will be held on a Saturday for the first time this spring, raising concern by at least one longtime merchant about the impact of street closings on a busy day for area stores.
Addressing the Select Board at the most recent meeting, Lynne West, owner of the Glad Rags women's clothing boutique on Church Street for the past 45 years, contended that there had been inadequate communication about the details of the bicycle race, which includes five separate categories with starting times from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on June 14.
The Lenox Chamber of Commerce is helping with logistics for the event. On April 2, the Select Board approved town funding of $5,000 toward the cost of putting on the race. John Eustis, owner of Sparta Cycling in Manhattan, which organizes the race, estimated there would be at least 600 participants.
West asked the Selectmen for details about road closings on the date of the event, with the starting and finish line at the intersection of Church and Housatonic streets.
But specifics were not available at the Wednesday night meeting. "It's a fair question," said Town Manager Christopher Ketchen. "We'll get word to you on that," added Select Board Chairman Channing Gibson.
"I do not want the roads closed on a Saturday, for the whole day," West emphasized. "It's going to hurt every single business in town. I'd like to find out how long they're planning to shut down Lenox."
"When you're going to close down a street where there's cafes and businesses. ... No one's come to us; it's not been posted or discussed anywhere," she said.
"It seems like there's going to be a town event that's going on that the town doesn't know much about, and it's going to impact my business very negatively as it has on the Sundays," West continued.
"I really want to know where the road's being closed and how it's being closed," she declared. "It impacts every single business in town, and messing with yet another Saturday for businesses already struggling, I think we need more information sooner rather than later."
Selectman Kenneth Fowler, who owns the Shear Design hair salon on Church Street, agreed that communication has been minimal.
"This is a Saturday, it's different from a Sunday race," he said. "To keep the road closed when there's very little activity for the rest of the morning until noon or so is a real detriment to the businesses on the street.
Police Chief Stephen O'Brien, following a meeting with West on Friday, told The Eagle that Franklin Street, a portion of Church Street, and Housatonic Street from Main to Church would be closed at the start and finish of the race, but there would be limited access at other times on June 14 before all roads reopen at 3 p.m. Signage and an officer will help direct motorists.
In a phone interview, West said she had canvassed some other area business owners on Friday and found they had limited or no information. She also asked where the estimated 600 participants would park, and whether any spots would remain for business employees and the general public.
To contact Clarence Fanto:
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On Twitter: @BE_cfanto
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