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Published: Monday, 3/19/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago

Sylvania gears up for summertime challenge

Simultaneous triathlon, Farr golf tournament to bring extra traffic to city, township

Police expect an influx of 20,000 vehicles Aug. 12. Organizers of the triathlon cover costs for police to direct traffic for that event. Police expect an influx of 20,000 vehicles Aug. 12. Organizers of the triathlon cover costs for police to direct traffic for that event.
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An additional 20,000 cars, trucks, buses, and limousines on streets that are usually relatively quiet on a Sunday will pose a challenge for authorities in Sylvania this August.

But law enforcement and city officials say they are prepared for the onslaught on Aug. 12, when, for the first time, the local triathlon at Olander Park coincides with the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic ladies professional golf tournament at Highland Meadows golf course.

The two events will be about 4 miles apart.

“We’ve been doing this for a very long time and I have no concerns,” said William Rhodus, Sylvania police chief.

For 32 years, the Sylvania triathlon has been held on the same Sunday in August, said Jim Donaldson, co-founder with his wife, Joyce, of Elite Endeavors, host of the event.

It brings 800 participants and an average of 1,500 spectators into the city each summer, he said.

There also are 350 volunteers for the event.

“People plan their vacations and summer around this,” he said.

He met with the police chief, the Jamie Farr event staff, and the Sylvania park district to try to ensure traffic is well managed and the events run smoothly.

“Both events bring world-class athletes and a national spotlight into Sylvania,” said Mayor Craig Stough.

The Jamie Farr Toledo Classic has been held at Highland Meadows golf course, at 7445 Erie St., since the early 1980s, missing a couple of years in between.

The golf tournament is usually earlier in the summer, but the LPGA changed the schedule this year, and the tournament is to be Aug. 9-12.

Judd Silverman, director of the local tournament, said more than 15,000 spectators come to the event each day to watch the 144 golfers.

It has 1,200 volunteers, plus various LPGA staff, caddies, and sponsors who attend.

The effort to keep the traffic moving is worth it, Mr. Stough said, because the events bring in thousands of dollars to businesses in the city. He was unable to provide a more specific estimate.

Spectators and participants will use restaurants, gas stations, stores, hotels, other services.

Bill Sanford, economic development director for Sylvania, said, “It’s a boon for our economy.”

The tournament provides off-site parking at Brint and Centennial roads, near the path of the triathlon.

Mr. Donaldson, of the triathlon organizers, said the bike route part of the event has been rerouted to accommodate the heavy traffic on Sunday morning headed to the Farr parking site.

The bike route previously left Olander Park and went along Brint and Sylvania-Metamora Road, but now will head west on Sylvania Avenue to Kilburn Road, then north to Brint, west to Richfield Center Road, back to Sylvania Avenue, and west to Mitchaw Road.

It then goes on Mitchaw to Sylvania-Metamora Road and reverses back on Mitchaw to Sylvania, heading back east to Olander Park.

“When you’re driving on Erie and Monroe, you won’t even know the triathlon is going on,” Mr. Rhodus said.

An Olympic distance triathlon consists of a nearly 1-mile swim around the Olander Park lake, a 24.8-mile bike ride, and a 6.2-mile run.

Sylvania Avenue between McCord and King roads will be closed for the first two events of the triathlon, which are swimming in the Olander lake and the bike race.

Those will occur between 7 and 11 a.m.

There will be traffic police to monitor traffic and show drivers the detours, police said.

Once the runners begin — and they run through many neighborhood streets behind Tam-O-Shanter — the main roads will open again.

Sylvania and Sylvania Township police will advise drivers of alternative routes and try to keep traffic on the roads that are open moving.

Elite Endeavors hires off-duty police officers from both the city and the township to maintain the routes, said Robert Boehme, Sylvania Township police chief.

The city and the township do not pay the police overtime for patrolling the triathlon event.

The city of Sylvania allotted $13,500 in its 2012 police department budget for the police to work overtime for the Jamie Farr tournament, Mr. Sanford said.

In 2009, the city spent $13,800 on overtime, and in 2010 it spent $12,700, he added.

Contact Ashley Streichert at astreichert@theblade.com or 419-206-0356.

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