Permit denied for Portland Marathon over route dispute, police s - KPTV - FOX 12

Permit denied for Portland Marathon over route dispute, police staffing

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

City officials have denied a permit for the Portland Marathon in October saying they want changes made to the route, though organizers are refusing.

The route of the marathon has been the same for 25 years, with the start and finish lines along the South Park Blocks.

City officials say they no longer have enough police officers to staff the route, but organizers feel changing it would ruin the iconic race.

Last month, organizers of the Providence Bridge Pedal announced a change in their route, also citing police staffing shortages.

Every year, thousands of runners pound the pavement in the Portland Marathon, an event that CEO Les Smith calls not only a race but an economic boon for the city. The event brings in 5,000 people, many of whom spend money in local businesses and stay at local hotels.

Smith told FOX 12 the picturesque route is a big draw for many runners, and he is concerned about the effects a change could have on the event.

Last year’s route required 80 police officers to staff it, but with 43 vacancies currently in the Portland Police Bureau, Portland Bureau of Transportation officials said they can only spare 33 officers.

Smith suggested that the city could use flaggers and officers from other departments, but he said the PBOT officials won’t let him.

“We could use flaggers, and the city allows flaggers for its parkways day. Those places where cops normally have to be, uniformed cops, so they’re changing the game all the time,” he said before stating there was a chance the marathon may not happen for 2017.

Dylan Rivera with PBOT said the city sent a letter to marathon organizers last October, warning them they’d have to make changes. They’ve suggested more park space and straightaways where barricades could replace officers.

“We want to work collaboratively and creatively with the marathon staff, but they’ve refused to engage us,” Rivera said. “They’ve refused to communicate and acknowledge this new reality.”

Smith claims city leaders want the race to start and finish in industrial north Portland, but he feels that would be a slap in the face to dedicated runners and Portland tradition.

“75 percent of the people who run the Portland Marathon are from out of town,” he explained. “They are going to be one disappointed group.”

The marathon is scheduled for October 8, and Smith said the event will now begin the permit appeals process.

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