Despite a bit of a detour, it appears that plans to bring the 2012 Fireball Run to Watertown are back on track.
On Thursday afternoon, city officials agreed to close a section of Washington Street from the Roswell P. Flower statue to Sterling Street for several hours on Sept. 25 to accommodate the Fireball Run road rally.
They met with representatives from the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce to resolve an issue over the tour finishing up at the statue.
We should put our best foot forward, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said in supporting the road closure request.
The producers of the 2,500-mile road rally threatened to move the event to Sackets Harbor after city officials expressed concerns about closing downtown traffic for that long during the day and suggested some alternative sites, including Thompson Park.
It will now be up to the producers to give the final go-ahead for the Watertown event, said Lynn M. Pietroski, the chambers CEO and president. She will get word today from the producers if they accept the citys proposal, she said.
Were very excited, very happy, she said, adding she thanked Mayor Graham for helping to get the city on board with the request.
Mayor Graham said the majority of the City Council agreed to the road closure, although Councilman Joseph M. Butler Jr. expressed concerns about the impact on businesses in that area.
Earlier in the day, members of Advantage Watertown unanimously came forward to support the citys involvement.
Besides the mayor and Mr. Butler, interim City Manager John C. Krol, Police Capt. Gary R. Comins, City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk and William G. Wood, executive director of the Jefferson County Historical Society, attended the 30-minute meeting. Kylie S. Peck, the chambers director of membership development, joined Ms. Pietroski.
During a meeting Thursday morning, members of Advantage Watertown enthusiastically rallied around the plans. The group of business and community leaders unanimously supported it, contending that the Fireball Run will give Watertown some national exposure.
I think its fantastic, said member Brian H. Murray, who owns an office building directly in front of where the event will be held. I think you would be crazy to pass it up.
Produced by Universal Studios, the 2,500-mile tour will be filmed and made into a movie, Northern Exposure, highlighting the tours eight destinations. The city is tentatively the fourth destination on the tour. After leaving the Watertown area, the cars will visit Burlington, Vt., before finishing the tour in Bangor, Maine.
Its more exposure for a day than we can ever expect for free, said Advantage Watertown member Michael C. Miller.
Chamber officials have been planning the Fireball Run adventure competition since January, when the city was selected as a host destination for the tour that will run from Sept. 21 to 29.