A local staple of June for nearly two decades, Awesome Biker Nights represents not only a colorful two-day celebration attended by thousands, but a community-minded event producing thousands of dollars for charities. As we have said in this space before, we recognize its popularity and commend its philanthropy.
However, we also have said we respect the position of businessmen and women who, for whatever reasons, do not wish to pay a fee to help cover event costs because they see little to no upside to them from participation in the event.
In other words, we are torn about the hoped-for return by Awesome Biker Nights to the Historic Fourth Street District this year.
On Feb. 5, Awesome Biker Nights organizers and representatives of businesses opposed to holding the event on Historic Fourth Street made their cases to the City Council. According to a Journal story, more than a half dozen Historic Fourth Street businesses don't want this event back in the district.
The council deferred a decision on the event's request until Feb. 26.
- We give credit to Councilwoman Rhonda Capron for volunteering to help mediate the dispute between Awesome Biker Nights and event opponents, but it's unfortunate the City Council was put into the position of referee.
"It just really troubles me that you all haven't sat at the same table," Councilman Alex Watters said at the Feb. 5 meeting. "I think it's silly that the City Council is where we're negotiating this and mediating it. It should have been done long before coming before council, as far as I'm concerned."
We agree with the councilman.
All local celebrations should, in fact, seek to establish strong dialogue with affected private business owners. No amount of information and conversation is too much.
- We hope Awesome Biker Nights, the local business community and the city will identify a solution to this dilemma so the summer tradition can return to the location on Historic Fourth Street desired by organizers.
We believe mutual agreement is within reach if the power of open-minded communication and the spirit of compromise are applied.
- In the end, however, no businessman or businesswoman should be forced to pay for an event he or she believes is of no benefit to him or her and, in fact, hurts the bottom line. No businessman or woman should be forced to accept a barricade in front of his or her establishment to accommodate an event.
"We lost $12,000 in business that weekend," Julie Schoenherr, who owns SoHo Kitchen & Bar, told the council about last year's event.
- If a solution acceptable to all Historic Fourth Street businesses doesn't surface, we suggest the city work with Awesome Biker Nights organizers on a move of the event to either the parking lots of the Tyson Events Center and Long Lines Family Recreation Center or the Anderson Dance Pavilion along the riverfront.
In our view, either site will meet the needs of this event.