If the Hood to Coast Relay wants to take over Seaside for one weekend a year, it needs to contribute more to the community.

That was the suggestion many of those at a forum made to City Councilor Randy Frank Sept. 10.

Frank organized the forum, attended by more than 60 people, to gather comments by local residents and business owners about the effects of the annual relay. The event attracts at least 30,000 runners, walkers and their friends and families to Seaside on the third weekend of August.

The idea that city officials should negotiate with relay founder and director Bob Foote wasn’t lost on Seaside Mayor Don Larson, who sat in the audience.

“I think the thing I got out of this is that we need more reimbursement, both the city and the chamber of commerce,” Larson said after the forum.

The relay, which has ended the 198-mile race in Seaside for 25 years, donates $18,000 to the city. The Seaside Chamber of Commerce nets about $25,000 from beer sales during the weekend.

But several business owners who spoke Sept.10 said the weekend has traditionally been the worst revenue weekend of the summer.

“It’s a hard weekend,” said Jeff Ter Har, co-owner of a local clothing store on Broadway. “I stood in the store and watched people walk by without even looking in the windows. I went to Portland Fudge and watched people walk by.”

Like several retail owners, Ter Har said too many vendors from outside Seaside were on the beach, taking away attention from stores in town. He and others suggested that the relay be conducted in June or September when tourist season isn’t at its peak.

In addition, Ter Har noted that hotels are filled on Saturdays when the race is over, but because they require a three-day minimum booking, they are empty on the Thursday and Friday nights before the event. This leaves no rooms for guests not involved in the Hood to Coast to enjoy Seaside on nonevent days, he said.

“I’d like to see the hotels charge $1,000 for Saturday night, but leave Thursday and Friday alone for other people,” Ter Har said.

Debby Bloom, manager of the Seashore Inn near the relay’s entrance to the Prom, complained that stakes were being pounded in the sand at 11:30 the night before the relay, keeping her guests awake. The hotel’s lawn and flower beds were overrun by crowds and by vendors who set up tables to display their goods. Trash was strewn all over the beach, said Bloom, who added that she had a large bag of garbage she had collected in her pick-up truck.

Others said the Prom was so glutted with runners that no one else could walk on it. They suggested that the runners heading for the finish line should run along the beach instead of the Prom.

After the event, the beach is left with “horrible” ruts that make it difficult for people to walk to the ocean, said Bill Carpenter. “It took almost a week for the beach to return to its normal status.”

In addition, equipment that removes material from the beach kept running through Sunday night. The noise was so great that Carpenter called the police. Apparently, he added, other residents called, too.

While he said he enjoyed the relay, which passes by his house, Carpenter added that the organizers are showing disrespect to the city and its visitors.

“The beach should be returned to the condition they found it in by the Monday after the race,” he said.

Others complained about traffic congestion and packed vacation homes that went over their occupancy limits when they were rented out to running teams.

But some restaurant operators said the weekend brought in a lot of revenue and pointed out that the weekend of the relay is usually a slow weekend because people are home getting ready for the start of school.

David Posalski, who operates a sandwich shop on Broadway, said Hood to Coast usually brings in 2 percent of his annual income. He suggested that the race be spread out more on the Prom so it isn’t so crowded. He proposed that local businesses operators conduct a combined sales promotion to attract visitors.

“I think there’s a notion that if we clear up the rooms, people will take the spaces,” he said. “Maybe; I’m not so sure.”

The race also brings revenue to the Seaside Elks, which rents out its lodge and parking lot to the team from Nike.

“In one day, we raise $2,500,” said Jan Jackson. The money benefits Elks programs.

Susan Huntington, director of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce, suggested that a partnership be formed with the Seaside Downtown Development Association to improve Seaside’s visibility in the Hood to Coast promotions. Local retailers could market their items to the relay’s participants, she said.

“What products and services appeal to young runners?” she asked.

“Seaside is singularly reliant on one industry: tourism,” said Huntington. “It needs visitors, exposure and investment.”

Many asked why the city didn’t demand more investment from the Hood to Coast organization. Former store owner Marty Gill suggested the city should charge $15 per runner, which would bring in $180,000. The money could go to the food bank, to pay for sports and programs for kids and to parks, he said.

“We give up this weekend; we’re inundated by this disastrous crowd. I think we give it away,” Gill added.

Following the meeting, Mayor Larson said he was surprised at both the turnout and the concerns expressed.

“In the last couple of years, the community hasn’t spoken,” he said. “It was a real eye-opener. People brought up some real good thoughts.”

Larson said city officials should meet with Bob Foote and negotiate a reimbursement, but he didn’t know how much money would be requested.

“We struggled to get the $17,000 a year (which pays for local park improvements), and last year, he (Foote) decided to add $1,000,” Larson said.

“We need to negotiate a reimbursement increase each year,” he said. “Let’s set up an annual reimbursement plan.”


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