Through asphalt, dirt, tight turns and the elements, the Gran Prix of Gloucester has brought cyclists from around the globe to compete in a race around Stage Fort Park.
But the annual may soon overlook a new waterfront, with the chief organizer looking toward Salem Willows Park.
The race, typically held toward the end of September, has been in Gloucester since 1999 and has grown from a one day race of hundreds to a two-day gathering of about 1,000 cyclists — not including spectators, and the racers’ friends and family members.
Now, because of concerns about repairs to Stage Fort Park and other factors, Paul Boudreau, president of the Essex County Velo, the nonprofit group that organizes the race, is looking toward Salem as an alternative site.
Since the fall of 2012, Gloucester residents and officials have raised concerns about how the repairs to the park are handled, as cyclists leave a mud trail in their wake, according to Boudreau.
“Discussions are ongoing, and we remain optimistic that we can reach an agreement (to keep the race in Gloucester),” Boudreau wrote in an email to the Times. “However, given the uncertainty that Gloucester would continue to be a feasible host city, we faced no other choice but to explore options for other potential host cities in the area.”
In January, Boudreau and other Essex County Velo members addressed residents as well as Gloucester City Council’s Planning and Development subcommittee, chaired by City Councilor Greg Verga with Bruce Tobey and Council President Jackie Hardy.
At that time, Boudreau addressed concerns about the racing cycling over the Lucy Brown Davis pathway, the dirt and rock path that leads from Stacey Boulevard into Stage Fort Park, as well as the condition in which the park was left.
Boudreau proposed smoothing over the Lucy Davis pathway and adding stone dust.