Sawtooth Mountain Challenge bike race road permit approved

Approving the special event permit for the Sawtooth Challenge Mountain Bike Race to be held September 2 was not controversial, but whether to honor the request of Tim Kennedy of the Superior Cycling Association to waive the $100 fee provoked some discussion among the county board at the July 24 board meeting.
“I think you should give some consideration to waiving that fee,” said Kennedy, also a Grand Marais city councilor.  Cook County’s nonprofits are trying to create events that benefit the community, he said.
Highway Engineer Betts said the Highway Department deals with 10-12 events a year that involve use of county roads.  They have been waiving the fee for one of them—Mush for a Cure—because it is a charitable event, raising money for the fight against breast cancer.  “Our roads aren’t parks.  They’re roads,” he said.  “Where do we draw the line?”  The Democratic and Republican parties are nonprofits, too, he said.  Would they want to waive the fee if one of those parties wanted to hold a rally on Wisconsin Street?
The people who sponsor these events do it because they like those kinds of activities and/or they get residual business profits from them, said Commissioner Fritz Sobanja.
The city doesn’t charge a fee for events like this, Kennedy said.  He asked the board to consider discussing its policy with the community organizations that sponsor such events.
These events cost the county money, Commissioner Jim Johnson said.  “…Charging a fee makes that point,” he said.  “Philosophically, I can see both sides. …It’s a philosophical issue.”
The fee is small, Commissioner Sobanja said, and most of these organizations have people on them who could easily pay it.  “It’s hardly worth the time to sit around and talk about it,” he said.
“Then maybe it’s not worth the time to collect the fee,” said Kennedy.
The board approved the special event application but did not waive the fee or make a plan for reviewing its policy.
“I think the policy…is appropriate,” said Betts.