It was good to see officials and crews involved in last weekend’s Gran Prix of Gloucester cycling event already out on the grounds of Stage Fort Park Monday morning to assess any damage and begin the post-race cleanup.
While the 15th annual Prix drew a lot better weather than the previous year’s event, it was also clear that some of the grounds need reseeding, and other parts of what served as the race course need other generally minor repairs.
But while Gran Prix director Paul Boudreau of the sponsoring Essex Velo coordinated early cleanup efforts Monday, then joined city officials and others in walking the park on Tuesday, perhaps the best post-race recognition came from City Councilor Joe Ciolino, who had, at one point, seemed opposed to granting permits for this year’s Gran Prix right up to the late-August council meeting where the event ultimately gained its final permits and approvals.
Ciolino indicated that, following this year’s contentious permit process, the city — and race organizers — now have a good blueprint of what both sides can expect and need, and that should indeed ease the route to the racing in the future.
And while residents and councilors — notably Ciolino, Greg Verga and Bob Whynott — raised real concerns over the toll the racing would take on the park, and while Boudreau at one point looked into moving the races to Salem Willows park if Gloucester made unreasonable requests for permitting, it became clear that both sides wanted the event to remain in Gloucester.
In the run-up to this year’s races, local leaders from Mayor Carolyn Kirk to Chamber of Commerce CEO Robert Heidt noted that this global cycling Gran Prix is a “destination event” that Gloucester should be proud to host and eager to keep.
This year’s races and park cleanup should indeed ensure that the Gran Prix should keep Gloucester in its name for years to come.
And that should mean good news for all.