City Officials Discuss RAGBRAI

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(Le Mars) — RAGBRAI, the bicycle ride across Iowa, was the main focal point during discussion of the Le Mars City Council meeting held Tuesday. At issue, is whether Le Mars should proceed with plans to host the opening night of the cross-state bicycle ride, or if there are enough concerns with the COVID-19 virus that Le Mars should pass on the opportunity? Le Mars was originally scheduled to host the 2020 event, but officials with the bicycle ride decided to postpone the event due to COVID-19 concerns.  Storm Lake has already indicated to RAGBRAI officials they intend to pull out from hosting the cross-state bicycle ride. If RAGBRAI should resume its ride this summer, Sac City may be the overnight community in place of Storm Lake. City Administrator Jason Vacura says RAGBRAI officials have established March 15th
as the deadline to decide whether to proceed with the ride, or to postpone the ride again until the summer of 2022. In addition to Storm Lake, the town of Maquoketa, Iowa, has also announced its intentions to no longer host the annual bike ride. The general sentiment among city council members is they would like to see RAGBRAI come to Le Mars, as it would help our community.
However, many council members are concerned about the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus. City council member Clark Goodchild expressed his opinion.
Goodchild says RAGBRAI is a great event and it would be great for the community of Le Mars, but Goodchild isn’t convinced the city should host the event this year.  City administrator Jason Vacura says RAGBRAI officials and other host towns
are excited and optimistic that a ride will be able to resume this summer.
Vacura says he asked the question of RAGBRAI officials during a recent virtual zoom meeting if other towns have shown any reluctance to hosting the bike ride? Vacura told city council members that according to RAGBRAI officials, no other town has indicated they would like to pass on hosting the event.
Brad Pick, a member of the Le Mars RAGBRAI Executive committee appeared before the city council. He says this year, RAGBRAI will not be asking people living in the host communities to open their homes to house participants. Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper also addressed the city council since he serves as an advisor for the Le Mars event. He says the city
may need to think about the additional costs beyond what was originally placed in the budget. Schipper says as an example, if social distancing requirements are still in place during RAGBRAI, the city may need to find open spaces to accommodate the 20,000 plus expected riders. Schipper says instead of just the fair grounds to hold everyone, we may need to find ten
different locations to accommodate only 2,000 people.  Councilman Rex Knapp directed City Administrator, Jason Vacura to check with city officials from other communities selected to host the ride and serve as an overnight stay, to inquire if those other communities are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 from hosting RAGBRAI.  The dates for the 2021 bicycle ride are scheduled for July 25th through July 31st, with Le Mars to host the event on Saturday, July 24th.