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Layton Ave. in Greenfield to be closed for House of Harley rally

July 8, 2014

Greenfield — With recent city approval of diverting eastbound Layton Avenue traffic to go around a proposed motorcycle rally, the throttle is wide open on planning the Labor Day weekend event at the House of Harley, 6221 W. Layton Ave.

"I'm very happy and I think it will be a great event for the city," said John Schaller, House of Harley owner. "National and international attention will be on Greenfield because riders from all over the world will be showing up."

Planning for the rally's food, music and activities is going extremely well, said Kristin Wacker, events coordinator for the dealership.

"Vendors were so happy with what happened last year, they wanted to come back right away," Wacker said.

And the band lineup is falling into place and should be announced at the end of July, she said. Again, the rally is seeking national acts.

This will be the first partial closure of Layton Avenue for a House of Harley motorcycle rally. The city allows the entire street to be closed down there for the dealership's huge rallies at Harley-Davidson five-year anniversaries. The in-between rallies have been held in the House of Harley parking lot.

But this year, Harley-Davidson Motor Co. is more involved in making the annual events bigger, said House of Harley owner John Schaller, hence the request to use part of Layton Avenue.

The common council gave its unanimous approval to eastbound cars being diverted onto the westbound side of the street for two blocks at the Harley dealership from Aug. 25 to Sept. 2. Traffic will be back on the correct side before the busy intersection with 60th Street. The diversions will take place at the boulevard cuts.

"We don't think it would be that disruptive to people traveling on Layton Avenue," said Alderman Bruce Bailey. "I don't anticipate any traffic backups at all."

Alderman Karl Kastner said police will monitor traffic but if there are backups it will be hard to tell if it's because of all the people coming to the rally or if it's drivers passing through being inconvenienced.

Police said the plan was workable and the Milwaukee County Transit System made sure its buses could negotiate the turns.

Frances Mayhew, owner of Heads Up Hair Design at 60th Street and Layton Avenue, told the council that the full Layton Avenue closures at the five-year anniversaries hurt his business and he worried what would happen with partial closures possibly every year.

Mayhew said business was down $8,600 during last year's full closure over Labor Day Weekend compared with business the year before.

"This isn't full closure," Kastner said, although acknowledging, "this could impact his business."

City officials will take impacts to surrounding businesses into account if another request for partial closure comes in next year, Kastner said.

But the rally also could boost business in the area, he said. Although there will be food at the rally, some may want other fare or may buy gas or pick up things they need at local outlets, he said.

Kastner welcomed the opportunity to bring people into the city.

"I hate to turn away an activity in our city as long as it's in control and not rowdy and does not cause problems," he said.

The city will receive something from the rally, too, Bailey said: "We're having a nice event here in Greenfield. We want to be hospitable to business wishes, too."

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