Following City Council's sponsorship approval for the 2013 Georgetown Grand, city staff will hold a public meeting to present a plan for alternating race routes to be used every other year.
The 2012 race received mixed reviews from downtown business owners who said they lost money with the race disrupting their customer inflow. With its sponsorship, City Council directed city staff to work with downtown businesses to construct a track that would reduce the race's impact.
"It was kind of a process after the first event," City of Georgetown spokesman Keith Hutchinson said. "There were certainly some merchants who were concerned with access issues, so we went back to the drawing board."
Along with changing the 2013 race date from May to a weekend in September, city staff mapped two routes, one on the west side of downtown to be used on years ending in an odd number and one on the east side to be used on years ending in an even number. The new plan also removes the original course's double loop, opens Eighth Street as a festival area and adds crosswalks on Austin Avenue while keeping the race's finish line on the Square.
"From a racer's perspective, certainly going through the Square was very attractive to them. But we knew there were some access issues, and I think this is a good compromise. It means if you're a business that isn't so tied into the event, it's only on your street every other year," Hutchinson said.
Dan Marek, owner of Georgetown Winery, said his business lost 400 customers and had its worst Saturday in more than five years during the inaugural Georgetown Grand. With the new course plan, he said he hopes he would not have significant losses every year.
"So far, the courses they've got developed look like they won't close off all of downtown," Marek said. "When they have an event downtown, they close off access and everyone detours around, so the businesses really lose out."
Residents and business owners are invited to ask questions and comment on the routes at a public meeting Aug. 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the Heweltt Room at the Georgetown Public Library. As planning for next year's race progresses, additional meetings will be held to provide for information and gather input.