CHESTER -- Problems with a Great Falls motorcycle rally have prompted Chester County leaders to essentially ban such events on the county's athletic fields, officials said.
County leaders said the tighter restrictions emerged after a man who had sponsored Great Falls bike rallies recently asked the county if he could hold another event on a ballfield.
"Those are ballfields," said Chester County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey. "Those are meant for sporting events and not bike shows."
The council voted 5-1 this week to limit the use of the athletic fields to sporting events, unless Roddey says otherwise.
Never miss a local story.
Roddey said the issue came up last year when promoter Jamie Wilmore asked the county for permission to use a Great Falls ballfield for a bike rally.
Wilmore had sponsored bike rallies in the town before.
Roddey denied the request, citing concerns he'd heard from Great Falls officials.
Great Falls Mayor H.C. "Speedy" Starnes said Thursday that the rally's problems came from "out-of-town people coming in and over-drinking and throwin' trash out."
"I have no problem with Mr. Wilmore running the event," Starnes said. "He tried to run it the best he could."
Wilmore could not be reached Thursday.
Controversy emerged before a rally Wilmore co-sponsored in Great Falls three years ago when then-County Councilman Jim Bruce was accused of racial profiling by two black councilmen because of an e-mail Bruce wrote about a predominantly black bike rally.
"History has shown that there will be numerous open container violations and drug use," he wrote.
Bruce later apologized for his remarks and said his statement referred to problems with large crowds, not race.
County leaders said this week's ballfield decision has nothing to do with race.
"I don't see color," Roddey said. "I'm just telling you that a bike rally on any baseball or football field in Chester County that we control is not permissible. I don't care who it is: White, black, green, blue, yellow."
The only opposing vote came from Mary Guy, the only black member of the council. She also said her vote had nothing to do with race.
"Those ballfields are owned by the citizens," she said. "I want things clean and in order now. You better believe it. But I just hate to say that you just can't do (it). ... It seems like we're taking more privileges away."
Roddey said he brought the issue before the council after another request from Wilmore. Roddey wanted to clear up any confusion.
"I don't have to have anybody's OK to do it," he said of restricting the field's usage. "But I wanted to go on and do it so that everybody in the whole world around would know that this is what Chester County's policy is."
He also said he wanted the support of the council.
"I get tired of them saying, 'Well, Carlisle wouldn't do this, Carlisle wouldn't do that,'" he said of his critics. "Well, this is not just Carlisle. This is the council."