Windsor considers relocating school race

Published 12:30 pm Friday, May 11, 2018

The Town of Windsor is considering asking Windsor High School to no longer hold its annual 5K on Church Street following numerous complaints from town residents regarding the road’s closing. The race was held last Friday and, according to Windsor Police Chief R.D. Riddle, resulted in the road being closed for approximately 62 minutes.

During the Windsor Town Council meeting on Tuesday evening, Councilman Walter Bernacki said he received “a plethora of calls” from residents who claimed they had not been notified of the closing in advance of the race. He also cautioned that blocking off Church Street could prevent residents from being able to get to their medical appointments and/or prevent farmers from being able to move their equipment.

“I know its something that benefits the people, but I think we need to readdress it so we don’t shut these streets down,” said Bernacki. “A lot of people coming from Chuckatuck and Driver are coming up Church and Shiloh [Drive.] Farmers can’t move their equipment. One of my constituents has dialysis.”

As an alternative, he suggested the school negotiate with Isle of Wight County to reserve the Joel C. Bradshaw Fairgrounds, located just outside the town’s incorporated borders off of U.S. Route 258, or restrict the race to the high school’s track.

Riddle responded by addressing the school’s attempts to inform the community about the 5K run and how their attempts might not have reached the large population of retired residents with no children. He was also skeptical about restricting the 5K run to the WHS track field.

“There were some 600 kids, and you can’t run them all in a circle. It was done in 62 minutes, and it was reopened 3 minutes after 11 a.m. The permit’s up at 90 minutes,” said Riddle, “I’ll give them credit for moving that many people that far in 90 minutes.”

Mayor Carita Richardson said she had received the same suggestion from residents regarding the fairgrounds.

“We can’t do this another year,” she said. “I really wish they would think about using the fairgrounds. It’s nice to have things in the town but Church Street has become much more heavily traveled. Even when residents know about [closings] it’s hard.”

Councilman Tony Ambrose, however, said that he didn’t see why a town as small as Windsor should have difficulty accommodating a 5K when much larger, more populated towns and cities hold marathons that require streets to be closed for several hours.

“I know for the Woman’s Club [5K], they raised last year around $7,000 for the Backpack Program, which provides food to elementary school students,” Ambrose said. “That’s a lot of benefit for an hour of somebody being inconvenienced.”

Councilwoman Patty Flemming suggested the town produce postcards or refrigerator magnets with the dates and times of all events scheduled in the town throughout the year so residents would have several months in advance to plan around street closings.

“They can take that to the doctor and say, ‘these are the dates I can’t get out of my driveway,’” she said.

In other business, Town Manager Michael Stallings provided an update on the renovation of the Windsor Town Center. The test for asbestos in the bathrooms of the 14,600-square-foot building came back negative, so the tearing out of tile could proceed. Ultimately, the facility will come with features such as a multi-purpose gymnasium/event space, meeting room and a catering kitchen. The construction is anticipated to be done by Sept. 14.

Stallings also presented a first draft of a letter the council had asked him to write to the Virginia Department of Transportation, which requests that VDOT include the stretch of Route 460 that runs through the town in its latest safety study of the corridor. Richardson said she also hopes to meet with Virginia House Del. Emily Brewer (R-64) to get additional input before sending the letter.

KENYA SMITH, an intern for The Tidewater News, contributed to this story. Contact her at 562-3187 or