New Albany residents filled the service department facility Aug. 5 to tell City Council the pros and cons about Challenge Day New Albany, held in the city July 26-27.
The event included multiple triathlons sponsored by an international organization called Challenge Family and required the city to have several roads closed from July 25 to 27.
Victor Goodman of King George Drive started the conversation during City Council's regular meeting. He said it was very difficult for him to get home July 25.
Goodman said he encountered several police officers on horseback, most of whom directed him to roads that also were closed.
One New Albany police officer, Joe Rehnert, was able to get Goodman home by giving Goodman his business card to show at one of the checkpoints on Fodor and Dublin-Granville roads.
Goodman said Rehnert was very helpful but the entire day was confusing.
He said there were no notifications to residents about the road closures.
Goodman said he understands why roads are closed for Founders Day and the Fourth of July parades and the New Albany Walking Classic, but the city needs to make sure residents are aware that roads would be closed. He said city officials should seek other routes for events such as Challenge Day New Albany to avoid affecting local businesses that would not get as many customers when roads are closed.
Four other people spoke in favor of the event.
Scott Berliner of Lambton Park Road said he was shocked when he heard an international event was coming to New Albany.
Berliner said road construction that has closed the intersection of Market and Main streets added to the confusion, but he believed the event was well-run with few complaints.
Fritz Hoefer, who does not live in New Albany but operates Fast Innovations on Walnut Street, thanked City Council for supporting the event.
Hoefer agreed with Berliner that construction might have contributed to traffic issues and said that his business, which develops fine fragrances for retailers, benefited from the event and provided 800 samples of a new sports fragrance.
City Councilman Chip Fellows said Challenge Day New Albany seemed like an event "that enriches our community," but the city needs to do a better job of communicating road closures to residents.
City spokesman Scott McAfee said the city sent email notices and posted the closures on social media sites.
McAfee said the response after the event was half positive and half negative.
The negative responses were about traffic issues, improper cleanup in some areas, unfriendly volunteers and the fact that the event did not have a local feel, he said.
McAfee said one reason volunteers might have seemed less friendly is because Challenge Day New Albany was a timed event, unlike the Pelotonia bicycle ride in which participants simply have to finish. He said volunteers have to prevent people from obstructing the course and interfering with the athletes.
McAfee said city officials are following up with race organizers this week to see how they can improve any future events.
Goodman asked if City Council has endorsed a second Challenge Day New Albany. He said the organization's website already has posted dates for a 2015 event.
Mayor Nancy Ferguson said the city has not yet approved the 2015 dates.
Ferguson said city officials might consider using spaces away from Market Street to avoid constant closures of that street.
McAfee said city officials followed up with local businesses to make sure owners support the event. He said most business owners agreed the event would be good for the community but residents and business owners needed more advanced notice of events that require road closures.
Plain Township trustees on Aug. 6 also reviewed Challenge Day New Albany with fire Chief John Hoovler.
Hoovler said many of the participants who crossed the finish line Sunday, July 27, were not sweating and did not have perspiration on their clothing, a sign of dehydration.
He said at least one athlete was treated for severe heat stroke and kidney failure. Crews were on hand to provide water and ice for people who had finished the race.