On Motorcycle Week, a kick and a kick | Local News
LACONIA – There will be a lot of vroom, vroom on Lakeside Avenue this next Motorcycle Week. But how many vendors will be allowed and whether beer tents will be allowed remains an open question.
City council voted unanimously on Monday to authorize the traditional traffic plan for Weirs Beach, which is the epicenter of the nine-day event that historically draws tens of thousands of motorcyclists to the area.
The vote came after nearly 30 minutes of debate among councilors over whether there should be special limitations as the COVID-19 pandemic decelerates from its winter peak.
“We need as many outdoor activities as possible,” Councilor Tony Felch said as he asked council to approve all vendor booths, the allowance for beer tents and special entertainment stages. . He also requested a special motorcycle parking arrangement on Lakeside Avenue, a location that normally attracts around 1,000 motorcycles at a time.
Last year’s Motorcycle Week was reduced due to the pandemic. There were no kiosks for vendors except for non-profit groups. Food, drink and entertainment were only provided at existing establishments. The traffic pattern remained the same for the rest of the year. The purpose of the restrictions was to discourage people from gathering in crowds. City Manager Scott Myers called it Motorcycle Week “in name only”.
Councilor Henry Lipman found Felch’s proposal thoughtless and called for a more cautious approach.
“We can have a good time without having any limits,” he said.
Felch countered that the council would have to acquiesce to the wishes of the majority of people who contacted the council by email, overwhelmingly asking that Motorcycle Week be allowed to proceed as normal.
“I represent the 95% that I have heard about,” Felch said.
But Lipman said it wasn’t fair for the council to totally ignore the perspective of residents who fear they will have an unrestricted motorcycle week as the pandemic continues.
“We ask people who have health issues not to be considered,” he said of the unrestricted approach.
Councilor Bob Hamel said a restriction on the number of suppliers was justified.
Myers urged vendors to stay at around half their regular numbers and ban Motorcycle Week-only beer tents and entertainment stages to keep the crowd down.
Mayor Andrew Hosmer said data must play a huge role in deciding how much or how open Motorcycle Week is.
“I’m not convinced this is the time (to relax), given the data we have now,” he said.
He urged the council to delay its decision until it has more up-to-date data on new COVID infections, as well as statistics on the number of people who have been vaccinated.
In addition, Gov. Chris Sununu’s executive order imposing COVID-related restrictions on businesses, including bars and restaurants, will expire on May 7 and there have been no announcements of any regulations or guidelines that will be in effect yet. place after this date.
In light of this, Hosmer recommended that the board address the issue of vendors and the beer tent at its next meeting on May 10.
Hamel urged the council to also receive the latest COVID data for the rest of New England as well as New Jersey and New York state.
Felch removed references to vendors and beer tents from his motion, leaving only the language on the traffic plan. This measure was adopted unanimously.
Myers said it was critical the council make a decision at the May 10 meeting in order to give the police department sufficient time to organize the number of additional law enforcement personnel needed to monitor the ‘event.