Rollout for ‘Slow Roll’ Event Idea Criticized by North Tonawanda Common Council

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By: Brendan McDonough

Reporter for North Tonawanda

The “Slow Roll” is a bike ride set to take place this summer and Alderman-at-Large Bob Pecoraro is up in arms.

Rather than hearing about the event from his fellow alderman on the Common Council, he had to read about it in the newspaper.

“We need to hear about these things before we read about them in the newspaper,” said Pecoraro.

Alderman-at-Large Austin Tylec, along with Common Council candidate Edward Smolinski, sent out a press release announcing plans to have the event on August 31st, 2019. However, neither Tylec or Smolinski had received approval from the City for the event or worked out the details of who is going to pay for police presence to help ensure biker safety.

“We want to make sure we have this event as successful as possible,” said Pecoraro. “When Tonawanda did their’s last year, they had over two thousand bike riders and we have to make sure that whatever we do in our City is not only successful, but safe.”

A group called “Go-Bike” that organizes the Slow Roll first approached members of the North Tonawanda Common Council about holding an event in the spring of 2018. At that time the Police Chief recommended lawmakers only approve the event if two things happen. First, if the route is cleared by the Police Department. Second, that the group agrees to reimburse the Police Department for overtime expenses necessary to have officers working the route. 

The event was not held last year because the group was not able to work out an agreement with the City.

Tylec says it would cost about Three Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($350.00) for police presence at the event. He says the “Slow Roll” sponsors are prepared to pay that amount.

Also called into question is why no vendors or food trucks are planned to be at the event.

“If we were to do this, why would we potentially not try and make some money off of it and invite vendors,” said City Clerk / Treasurer Matt Parish. “I know with two thousand people they are going to want to do other things besides just hop on a bike and ride. In fact, I was at the last one held in Tonawanda and they had all sorts of things happening.”

But Tylec says that is not the purpose of the event.

“It is just supposed to be a pretty relaxed event and if vendors want to show up than they can,” said Tylec.

Second Ward Alderman Donna Braun agreed more respect should have been given to members of the Council about the event before they read about it in the newspaper.

“As a Council person, if I were to sponsor an event that would require police presence, out of respect to the Council, I would put in a letter of approval just to make sure everyone was aware of what we were doing,” said Braun. “I don’t have a problem with the Bike Roll. I just think that it would be something out of respect to the rest of the Council that a letter would be put in.”

Members of the Common Council agreed to talk more about the event at the next workshop.


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