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Liberty Township Half-Marathon Canceled Over Road Use Dispute

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A half-marathon and 10K race scheduled for Saturday in Liberty Township has been cancelled after the township's board of trustees voted unanimously not to allow the Scioto River Run to use its roads.

Township officials didn't know which roads the race's sponsor Race Penguin planned to close down until last weekend, when local businesses contacted them to complain. The race organizers also planned on using the front entrance of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

“Between finding out about the road closures and that Monday night meeting, we also found out there were some permits from the Delaware County Engineers Office and through the sheriff’s office, 911 call center, things like that weren’t 100 percent put into place,” Liberty Township HR Specialist Cathy Buehrer says.

Some residents along the race's route would have been unable to leave their homes for four hours, according to Buehrer.

“Some of those roads, namely Seldom Seen Road has a subdivision and some individual residents on there," Buehrer said. "And with a total closure, those residents would not have been able to leave their house or get to their house."

Race organizer Matt Czarnecki of Race Penguin told trustees he rode the Columbus Zoo's portion of the course with its head of security in February. But trustees said that claim among others could not be verified.

Trustee Melanie Lenegham said at Wednesday's meeting that trustees "have received email after email after email that doesn't fall in line with what you have told us Monday night."

Liberty Township trustees ended up voting not to allow the race to use township roads to avoid blocking in residents and blocking off road access to emergency responders.

“We gave him (Czarnecki) some options, try to come up with alternate routes," Buehrer said. "He was unable to do that Monday, so the trustees gave him until yesterday morning at 9:15 to come in with new routes, more information."

Race organizers declined to comment. In a website statement released Wednesday, organizers said if registrants don’t request refunds, they will donate 100 percent of registration funds to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.

In a special board meeting Wednesday, Czarnecki told trustees 8 percent of events proceeds would have benefited the charity.