Seaside to seek reimbursement from Hood-To-Coast

SEASIDE - The Hood to Coast Relay already brings about 30,000 runners, walkers and their supporters to this coastal Oregon town every summer.

Now business owners and residents there want it to also bring in some more cold, hard cash to add to the city's bottom line.

Hood to Coast organizers already donates $18,000 to the city, and the Seaside Chamber of Commerce nets about $25,000 from beer sales during the race, traditionally held on the third weekend of August.

But at a public forum this week, several business owners said the weekend has traditionally been the worst revenue weekend of the summer.

Jeff Ter Har, who co-owns a local clothing store, said too many vendors from outside Seaside were on the beach, taking away attention from stores in town. He and others suggested that the relay be conducted in June or September when tourist season isn't at its peak.

Debby Bloom, manager of the Seashore Inn near the relay's entrance to the Prom, said the hotel's lawn and flower beds were overrun by crowds and by vendors who set up tables to display their goods. Trash was strewn all over the beach, said Bloom, who added that she had a large bag of garbage she had collected in her pick-up truck.

Others said the Prom was so glutted with runners that no one else could walk on it. They suggested that the runners heading for the finish line should run along the beach instead of the Prom.

After the event, the beach is left with “horrible” ruts that make it difficult for people to walk to the ocean, said Seaside resident Bill Carpenter. “It took almost a week for the beach to return to its normal status.”

In addition, equipment that removes material from the beach kept running through Sunday night. The noise was so great that Carpenter called the police.

While he said he enjoyed the relay, which passes by his house, Carpenter added that the organizers are showing disrespect to the city and its visitors.

“The beach should be returned to the condition they found it in by the Monday after the race,” he said.

Others complained about traffic congestion and packed vacation homes that went over their occupancy limits when they were rented out to running teams.

But some restaurant operators said the weekend brought in a lot of revenue and pointed out that the weekend of the relay is usually a slow weekend because people are home getting ready for the start of school.

The race also brings revenue to the Seaside Elks, which rents out its lodge and parking lot to the team from Nike.

“In one day, we raise $2,500,” said Jan Jackson. The money benefits Elks programs.

Many asked why the city didn't demand more investment from the Hood to Coast organization. Former store owner Marty Hill suggested the city should charge $15 per runner, which would bring in $180,000. The money could go to the food bank, to pay for sports and programs for kids and to parks, he said.

“We give up this weekend; we're inundated by this disastrous crowd. I think we give it away,” Hill added.

Following the meeting, Mayor Don Larson said he was surprised at both the turnout and the concerns expressed.Larson said city officials should meet with Hood to Coast founder and director Bob Foote and negotiate a reimbursement, but he didn't know how much money would be requested.

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