Plans for September Bike Rally approved by city council

Apr. 23—While downtown London draws thousands for the annual World Chicken Festival in September each year, this year will offer a Bike Rally in the same month.

Chris Minton with Wildcat Harley Davidson presented a proposal to city tourism officials at their meeting last week, then took the proposal before London City Council in a special-called meeting on Thursday.

Minton explained that several other Harley Davidson locations were having large events and that London wanted to host a similar one.

At the encouragement of the tourism commission, Minton told council members that the rally would be held in September and would host a Friday night event near Town Center Park.

"Bikes, Bourbon & BBQ" would be the headline event and would host food trucks and live music. That would require closing Main Street from Town Center Park (Maple Street) to Fifth Street.

"Just a whole lot of motorcycles lined up downtown, hanging out downtown, listening to music, visiting restaurants — in a nutshell, that's it," he said.

Councilwoman Kelly Greene said she appreciated the idea of bringing Wildcat Harley Davidson's event to the downtown area.

"I think this is something we should support," she said, while other council members seconded that idea.

London Mayor Randall Weddle said the council members needed to approve the Mayor's office to work with Harley Davidson staff and allow the Mayor's office to make any changes to the street closures, if needed.

"Just give us the approval to close the streets to Fifth Street. It may change, but give my office the authority to do it," he said.

The event hopefully will draw a large crowd over the four-day rally, Minton said.

"Tourism added that they wanted to add a few things too, like a barbecue pit," Greene said, with Minton adding the name with the event.

Reuben Street, which has an abrupt entrance off Main Street, was another topic of discussion. Weddle said extending Reuben Street to line up with 16th Street was part of the "North Main Street Plan" and would alleviate traffic in the areas.

"The project area from Ninth to Chinook, which is at the McDonald's, to widen the sidewalks and drainage and getting the sidewalks ADA compliant," he said. "At Reuben Street there was a concern because Reuben Street is on a hill and they're not able to get it ADA compliant," he said. "They suggested closing that portion of Reuben Street and getting it aligned with 16th Street and give that access point."

Weddle said the businesses and residents in the area were agreeable to that action. He reiterated that the project was a discussion at that point and that a future public forum would be held. He added that the retainer wall behind a former gas station just before Reuben Street was "giving in" and would cause further concern.

The city council then adjourned and re-adjourned for a meeting of the London City Finance Corp. That group is comprised of the city council members. A finance corporation is required when government agencies plan to seek funding for projects that exceed the available funds from that agency's budget.

City Attorney Larry Bryson, in a previous conversation, said it is common for city governments to obtain loans for large-scale projects.

This particular issue involves obtaining loans for a new city complex. Weddle said he had been authorized to seek loan information from First National Bank of Manchester and Cumberland Valley National Bank.

Holly Little made the motion to accept the terms of Cumberland Valley National Bank for the loan project, which passed unanimously. Several police and dispatch employees were present for that meeting and stood and applauded following that action.

The estimated $3 million city complex will involve an extended two-story structure that will house the London City Police Department on the lower level and city offices and a large meeting room for council and board meetings. Laurel 911 Dispatch would be located in the bottom of the current city hall.

With the completion of that project, the existing city police/911 Dispatch Center would be demolished, and that space used for additional parking for the city complex and London Community Center.

The need for a new building for police and dispatch arose several years ago after black mold was discovered inside the building. Ventilation is another concern, and Weddle said that the black mold is making several employees sick. The problem was discussed during the last year of Mayor Troy Rudder's administration but council members chose to let new council members and a new mayor make decisions on the situation.