2,000 Quebec cyclists plan summer stop in Belfast

Posted May 01, 2012, at 10:26 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Next summer, the streets of Belfast may be briefly inundated with 2,000 cyclists from a Quebecois bike touring group who would like to camp overnight in the city during a weeklong loop through Maine.

Velo Quebec Evenements had asked that the city of Belfast write a letter of support for the nonprofit organization’s August 2013 Grand Tour of Maine, and city councilors responded with a unanimous “oui” at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.

City Manager Joe Slocum told councilors that the cyclists would like to set up a campsite at Belfast Area High School, book 150 local hotel rooms and use local vendors for catering. The cyclists would stay just one night in the city.

According to letters from other communities that have hosted the tour group, Slocum said, the cyclists leave the area in better shape than it was when they arrived.

In other business, councilors heard a brief update from Slocum about downtown parking concerns. Some businesspeople have been contacting city officials to complain that Belfast isn’t enforcing its $5 parking ticket law, he said. They also believe that when the law is enforced, people who work downtown simply shuffle their vehicles every two hours to avoid the ticket.

“I’ve talked to quite a few merchants,” Slocum said. “We hope to encourage cooperation to free up the choice spots as much as possible.”

He and Belfast Police Chief Mike McFadden are looking into creative ways to solve the parking dilemma, Slocum said.

On Wednesday, the city manager said he planned to hand-deliver a letter to downtown business owners, employees and others outlining the problem and asking for help in finding a solution.

“Regulatory power to secure true two-hour parking compliance could be financially costly and really harsh, if that’s what it takes,” he wrote in the letter. “Heavy fines, towed vehicles, special enforcement efforts: there are a lot of really unkind possibilities if we can’t find other reasonable solutions.”

Additionally, councilors:

• Voted to approve amendments to city ordinances which address regulatory changes in the Belfast Inner Harbor.

• Approved waiving dock fees for the August visit of the replica of the HMS Bounty. The organization that runs the ship charges a $5 to $10 fee for visitors to board during the day.

• Gave the go-ahead for a new food truck business, called Good ‘n’ You, which will be parked at 39 Main St. and offer street food from all over the world at lunchtime.

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