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City slaps moratorium on downtown running events. How will that affect annual regatta run?

The annual St. Stephens 5K Fun Run during the February Bradenton Area River Regatta is up in the air after the city implements a moratorium on running events until March 31.
The annual St. Stephens 5K Fun Run during the February Bradenton Area River Regatta is up in the air after the city implements a moratorium on running events until March 31. Bradenton Herald

With so much downtown construction underway and more still planned, city officials have placed a moratorium on all running events until March 31.

There were two running events planned this fall, but city administrator Carl Callahan said organizers were informed that the moratorium was likely and any applications submitted might not be approved.

However, officials admitted after their Wednesday vote that they didn’t consider one signature event that coincides with the annual Bradenton Area River Regatta in February — the St. Stephens 5k Fun Run, which draws hundreds of early morning runners to kick off the annual festivities.

“We’ll have to see,” Callahan said. “We are saying March 31, but we may see conditions improve prior to that and that’s something we’ll take a look at. Nobody was really thinking about that but in all honesty, we don’t know what will be going on with the Green Bridge with the construction on 41. I don’t think it will be a huge issue.”

A St. Stephens run organizer could not immediately be reached for comment.

Callahan said the moratorium isn’t an absolute prohibition and events are welcome to submit applications during the moratorium for review.

“Part of my job is taking a look at those things,” he said.

Callahan said construction schedules have been unpredictable. For example, the Ninth Street and Third Avenue intersection improvement project was supposed to begin on Ninth, but the Florida Department of Transportation decided to start with Third Avenue, which closed earlier this week for 30 days.

Work on Ninth, and widening the Green Bridge walking trail will begin after Third is completed, extending the 200-day construction timeline into a possible conflict with the regatta.

“These events were difficult when we had nothing going on downtown,” Callahan said. “Now with all that is going on downtown, it’s more difficult.”

Councilman Bemis Smith said city staff also is working on creating a standard route for running events in the future to make them easier to coordinate.

“It’s nice to have people using downtown, but the moratorium is important right now and I think we are going to do a committee do come up with a uniform route so they can’t just come in and do their own route,” Smith said.

The moratorium passed 4-1 with Councilman Gene Gallo dissenting.

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