For two days, Stage Fort Park was the bustling center of a global cycling event, with more than 1,000 riders and hundreds of spectators covering much of the park’s grounds, for the 15th annual Gran Prix of Gloucester.
Monday, however, the park was bustling again, with crews moving rocks and carrying out other efforts to get the park back into its usual order.
The park’s condition following the race had been in the spotlight this summer, as some residents raised concerns about holding the Gran Prix in the park after a messy 2012 aftermath and with the organizing Essex Velo group exploring an alternate site at Salem Willows if city officials declined to issue the needed permits.
But an approving City Council vote in late August cleared the way for the popular cyclocross event to go forward, and riders and spectators alike enjoyed the action under generally clear skies.
That, alone, provided a marked difference from a year ago, when rain during and soon after the cyclocross races made any torn-up conditions much worse, and residents and city officials questioned the delays in a post-race cleanup.
“It’s a lot better than last year,” race director Paul Boudreau said Monday.
Boudreau spent Monday coordinating with members of the Department of Public Works and the landscaping company handling the repairs, Tyler Munroe Landscaping of North Andover.
Boudreau, city councilor Joe Ciolino and Mark Cole, operations manager of public services for Gloucester’s Department of Public Works, joined others in taking a walk through the park to assess any damage and come up with an post-race action plan. That’s one of the 18 stipulations city councilors and race organizers agreed upon in the deal that let the races go forward.
“We went through a pretty arduous permitting process with the City Council,” Boudreau said. “Both parties understand what’s to be expected of each other.”
Ciolino, who initially asked race organizers at Essex County Velo to post a $10,000 bond to host the event to ensure repairs were done in a timely fashion, said the city now has a good blueprint of what the city and organizers need, and that should ease the permitting process in years to come.
Ciolino said he heard from inn owners and restaurateurs around the city who did see increased business, an important aspect.
Ronald Campbell, a DPW custodian at Stage Fort Park said the tracks can be clearly seen, but they were nothing compared to last year.
“It rained both days; it was like a mud bath,” he recalled of the 2012 event and aftermath.
Residents Chad and Julie Connors were walking along the park Monday, as they usually do once a week. Chad noted that the bike tracks were there, but he did not think there was any significant environmental damage.
“I didn’t even notice,” Julie Connors said. “I think it looks fine.”
While it drew questions and concerns for its impact on the park, the cycling event — which draws cyclists from across the globe — had been endorsed by Mayor Carolyn Kirk and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, among others.
Boudreau added that there were more spectators this year than ever, and the buzz around Gloucester and across social media sites proved that residents wanted the event to stay in the city.
Boudreau said and the riders certainly enjoyed the park, as well.
“We had a lot of really excited riders,” he said. “Everyone came here with a lot more energy.”
Boudreau said that, in the end, everyone was glad to be back in Gloucester.
“We love being in Gloucester, and the plan is to be here again,” he said. “It means a lot to the people to be here.”
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at email@example.com.